Jane Louise Curry

Time Travel, Fantasy, Mystery -- Books for Children and Young Adults

Abáloc-- and this and my other worlds...

...and suddenly, it's not our farm..

October 2, 2018

Tags: on <i>beneath the hill</i>, on writing

It was the Arthur family's farm, familiar, but different...

And it happened so quickly! I had got as far in my story ideas as having five children on a farm much like our own, threatened by strip mining, who encounter mythical beings out of the past...

...Those "Fair Folk" lost at sea! Who else! (more…)

"Mythical beings out of the past..."

September 26, 2018

Tags: on <i>beneath the hill</i>, on fantasy

After the storm, lost at sea...
"Mythical beings..." Not very long after my rediscovery of E. Nesbit, I began reading up on fairy-survival tales. In Britain medieval fairy beliefs had survived through Elizabethan times, and in some rural areas on to the edge of the twentieth century. In one old book I came across and made a note of a report by a long-ago antiquarian of an old Welsh farmer’s account. He had seen one night a long torchlit cavalcade of the Fair Folk leaving the land of men forever, riding across the hillsides and down to the River Conwy. It was there that they took to boats and traveled north to (more…)

Meanwhile, Back on the Farm...

September 25, 2018

Tags: on <i>beneath the hill</i>, on writing

Our barn, home to horses Rusty, Dusty and Merrylegs.
Hello again! Almost a year later!!! No way to run a blog, you say, and I absolutely agree, but the past year has been filled to overflowing. This past week I have at least come up for a gulp of air, and my calendar ahead is showing enough little white spaces that I think it's safe for me now to vow to (more…)

The Accidental Fantasist

October 1, 2017

Tags: On Fantasy

That "book I had been looking for since fifth grade," I mentioned at the end of my last post? Here's that story...

I had a taste for fairy tales as a child, but “fantasy”—except for the OZ books and a few others—was in short supply in America in those days, so I had to sigh and make do with whatever else came to hand. Being a greedy reader, I simply devoured my way along my parents’ and grandparents’ bookshelves. Our Curry grandparents had “sets” of books, most of them soberly unfantastic: all of Nathaniel Hawthorne, all of Dickens, Carlyle, The Letters of the Presidents, George Eliot and assorted other worthies of the nineteenth century. So, even though much of it sailed right over my head, I read them all and—the mind reels—I read evenThe Letters of the Presidents, of which there must have been eight or ten volumes. (I can only hope that I skipped like mad.) Fortunately, (more…)

If at first you take a pratfall...

August 16, 2017

Tags: On writing, On <i>Beneath the Hill</i>

As I was about to say in my last post ... I sat down to "think up" a subject for a story-- but neither sitting down or Thinking produced the sort of Light-Bulb Moment I had been hoping for. Granted, when every fifteen or so minutes a heavily laden coal truck comes rumbling down your country road from the strip mine up the way to rattle your bedroom windows as it passes the front yard, it isn't easy to concentrate. I couldn't seem to get past the tired (I thought) old motto, "Write what you know," that Miss Lambert, my high-school English teacher, espoused (along with possibly every other high-school English teacher in the Universe), but that seemed to me a feeble approach. I already KNEW what I knew, so where was the fun, the excitement in that? (There are obviously answers to that question, but they're beside the point here.)

All this was so long ago that I can't swear to it, but (more…)

If at first...

August 14, 2017

Tags: On writing

After my first book, Down from the Lonely Mountain (my retellings of California Indian tales), my editor Margaret McElderry urged me to write an "all my own" book for children. I was at a complete loss. I had written short stories--and was several chapters into a comic novel, but it had never occurred to me that I might write a story for children. I was busy, so I dithered and delayed but finally came up with a picture book story titled The Ballad of Bombur Bee. A Western, would you believe? Margaret rejected it almost by return mail, but with a generous "you can do much better than this," and an invitation to do just that. I wasn't crushed about Bombur, because I hadn't taken him very seriously in the first place. Fortunately, before putting him aside, I did take the time to re-read the story both as a conscientious English Lit graduate student and-- more importantly-- as a former child. And I was appalled. It stunk! Cutesy-poo characters, cartoon-flat! A cliché (more…)

"Um... That Must be Nice for You."

August 6, 2017

Tags: On Fantasy

Back when I wrote Beneath the Hill, the first of the Abáloc books, fantasy and fairy tales were still looked on with a lingering mistrust by not a few psychologists and educators in America. The U.K. had a long tradition of fantasy written by well-known literary figures and academics from Lewis Carroll to J.R.R.Tolkein. Not so, here. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels were pretty much it for children from 1900 to mid-century, but even before 1950 there were rumblings from beneath the floorboards, where science fiction and fantasy were enjoying The Golden Age of the Pulps. And treasures from the Scots and Brits did lurk in our bookshops and libraries. Then, in 1954, American Edward Eager came out with Half Magic, Madeleine L'Engle with A Wrinkle in Time in 1963, dear Lloyd Alexander with The Book of Three in 1964, and in 1967 still more, including my Beneath the Hill . We were off and away! (more…)

My Favorite Dinosaur (of 2017)

August 1, 2017

Tags: Prehistoric Animals

I've said that my blog posts are likely to be all over the map, and here goes: my phone has just now told me that I’m running low on storage, so I’ve been scrolling through my photos in hopes of finding enough duds to delete for me to avoid the chore of downloading the whole backlog to my PC and giving them all useful titles. No such luck, but here is My Probably Favorite Photo of those I’ve taken so far in 2017, the most adorable dinosaur I’ve ever met.

And he breathes! And moves in his sleep! And blinks! He’s animatronic, and I didn’t know it when I took the photo because he was switched off at the time. I discovered it only when I looked the model up online just now and found a (more…)

On Setting Sail in a Blog...

July 31, 2017

Tags: On writing, On Fantasy

I take this dive into blogdom in spite of a certain reluctance/impatience/resentment. I love writing, the thinking-about, the planning, the genuine sensual pleasure of writing in longhand, all of it (except the endless retyping). But until lately those have been private pleasures made only more pleasurable by the welcome shift to computers for revising and polishing. A good two-thirds of the 30-plus books I've written for children and young adults-- mostly fantasy-- have been planned and crafted and then, all strings cut, sent out into the world with a nice mixture of pride and trepidation. In those days it was wave It goodbye, call out "Send a check, dear!" and close the door—then, after celebrating, to trot back to the desk to begin plotting the next harrowing trip through time. Or the next fraud detected by determined kids. Or the tale of a Stone of Power being turned to evil purposes. Well, no longer. Not in this century! Now you have to let the next book slide while you buy or build the dear just-published Thing a website, then hold Its hand and toddle out into the world with It, doing the round-and-rounds of social media. And blog about It while the Next Book sits on the back burner and mutters and twiddles its thumbs…

Hence this blog. However. Knowing myself quite well, I have given it a more skittery title than Jane’s Book Blog, for I suspect that it will end up being all over the map. After all, if I’m going to do it, I might as well have fun!

Quick Links

Book Pages

abaloc series
"full of mystery and magic." booklist; "an engrossing fantasy." Publishers Weekly
"National Book Award" finalist.
"deeply satisfying"   The Listener (BBC)
"a rousing adventure fantasy" publishers weekly
"always enthralling" Publishers weekly
"brisk and riveting"   Horn book
"fresh and exciting" NCTE English Journal
time travel
"Top Ten Fantasy Books for Youth " BOOKLIST
"Masterful suspense." Washington Post
Wouldn't you like to have a magical servant? "...thrilling, and simply splendid." Google Books reader
mystery and adventure
"A... thriller of the first order." CHILDREN'S BOOKS OF THE YEAR, u.k.
folk tales
"A stellar collection of Native American tales." --KIRKUS REVIEWS