[DWJ] Hi everyone!

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sat May 6 15:40:09 EDT 2006

>sally at sallyodgers.com wrote:  I have a kind of feeling a lot of DWJ
>appeals more (or at least is
>better-appreciated by) adults. Hmmm. Why is she classed as a childrens
>writer, again?

Elizabeth G. Holtrop:
>  I'm really not sure, except that people seem to think much  of fantasy
>is aimed at the YA readership, especially if it features  teenaged
>characters in any way.  I've heard that Robin McKinley is  annoyed that
>her books are classified as YA -- not that she wants to  exclude that
>demographic, but adults and younger children also read her.

I don't know about annoyed: more like trying quite hard to say "why on
earth do you have to try to fit everyone into badly-fitting boxes?" -- just
like DWJ.  I don't think RMcK would mind being quoted direct:

"after nearly thirty years of screaming I AM NOT A CHILDREN'S WRITER,
CHILDREN READ MY BOOKS, THERE'S A DIFFERENCE," [the one she's writing at
present] "may
be the first genuinely YA novel I've ever written."

(So we can look forward to checking whether she's right, some time after
Easter next year.)

>  I can't say whether I would have appreciated DWJ at a younger age,
>since I didn't read her until I was 19.  I'm tempted to talk to my  local
>library, though, about reshelving some of her books in the adult  area --
>especially A Sudden Wild Magic, which I loved but which I  wouldn't have
>appreciated at age 12, either for its plot or for the  sexual element.
>I'm not a prude, and if younger people enjoy the  book I think that's
>great, but it seems like that one at any rate was  definitely written for
>an older audience.

Well, it was specifically commissioned as a book for adults.  Then the
editor who had commissioned it chickened out, and it was left hanging
unpublished for rather too long.  That's why it came out in America first:
the American publisher rescued it from limbo.

Memory intrudes, of self enjoying *Tom Jones* at age 12 -- maybe not
understanding all the nuance, but I did like the Authorial Voice employed
as an aside talking directly to the reader, and I found the way the
grown-ups were so hung up on sex extremely funny.  Memory of an earlier
self having to be removed screaming from the film "Bambi" because it was so
nasty.  Memory of the nightmare stuff of people deliberately hurting each
other in various "children's" books -- Struwelpeter, say, however it's
spelt, or almost any book of "folk" or "fairy" stories, not just the
Brothers Grimm but also Hans Christian Anderson and all the Coloured Fairy
Books.  Memory of the dreadful, agonising boredom caused by many of the
books that were supposed to be "suitable for children" in the late sixties
and seventies.  Memory of the nightmare horrors in *The Hobbit*.

Hmmm.  Who gets to decide for us all?  Which set of mores is a must?  Is
sex really so much more harmful to the child-mind than violence?  Why?  Who
says so?


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