Jane Louise Curry

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

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

Beneath the Hill

December 1, 2018

Tags: Beneath the Hill

Mr. Dekany's mine...
Mr. Dekany, in Beneath the Hill had his own dig-it-yourself little coal mine, but he understood the fascination that holes in hills have for dogs and children, so,

"At a point about six feet into the hill, Mr. Dekany had closed the passage by fastening a heavy fence gate between the two stout old wooden supports to a heavy overhead beam. Beyond the gate the children could dimly make out a heavy pick and broad shovel leaning against a wheelbarrow. Opposite the wheelbarrow was a heavy wooden bin full of coal. Farther on was nothing but damp blackness...."

But Mrs. Dekany had been at her kitchen window when the children came out again, so the next weekend Mr. D., knowing that the gate was see-through and tempting, rounded up some boards and hinges and a padlock, and cut an old door down to size to shut the outer entrance, too. (more…)

Drat! Italian Dippy's not in Rome after all...

November 24, 2018

Tags: Dinosaurs, Time travel

See what I mean? A little bit goofy... [Wikimedia Commons/Khruner]
I'm in Rome, and happily checking out additional story locations and re-organizing my notes and my research into whatever wild happened in Rome in the mid-to-late first century A.D. I hope to start in the next week or so on the second draft of a YA time-travel novel set here in Rome that I've been working on for a while... but to my distress, Dippy isn't here!

Dippy? Dippy the Diplodocus. My mascot? In the October 19th post? Well, I'd known there was an Italian Dippy, and just assumed he would be in Rome. He's not. He's apparently been in the Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini in Bologna, up north, ever since he came to Italy. Bad luck for me, because I can't change my schedule here, or go to Glasgow in January to catch British Dippy on tour. I've been in Scotland in January. Too bad there isn't one of him in Los Angeles.

JLC, Map Freak...

November 8, 2018

Tags: Beneath the Hill

I've been a map freak since I was a child. I don't remember how young I was, but Daddy had a globe on his desk that I loved to play with, tracing fantastic journeys. Later, in school, there were large, colorful maps that pulled down over the blackboards from rollers high on the wall that fascinated me. And then I began to draw my own. Imaginary landscapes. Imaginary worlds. And, much later, when it came to writing books, I found that almost every one needed a map--or maps-- if not to put into the book itself, then to draw beforehand, so that as I began to tell the story on paper, that story's world could become as real to me as the everyday one. The first story map I drew was for Beneath the Hill, at left. It had bits and pieces of the real world in it, but like almost all of my story maps, it has a warning on the back: Follow At Your Own Risk. One reader of one of my books and his mother lived not far from the real-world location at the bottom of the book's map, and set out to find the house that the burglar raided. They got lost.

My favourite dinosaur... period.

October 19, 2018

Tags: Dinosaurs

London Dippy -- a nice, goofy face.
Meet Dippy. The Diplodocus. Short for Diplodocus carnegii. I met him when I was about seven. Or eight. And fell in love-- or, to be more precise, "fell in awe." He died in Sheep Creek, Wyoming, but came to live in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. We lived an hour or so down the Ohio River, so I didn't get to visit him very often.

At least, not very often in Pittsburgh. But there are more of him. Andrew Carnegie financed the dig where he was found, and while the Carnegie Museum was still being built, King Edward VII was so impressed with the discovery, he asked Mr. Carnegie for a cast of the bones for London. Dippy Clone #1 met the public at a big formal reception at the Natural History Museum there in 1905. In 1907 Dippy Himself appeared in his new Carnegie Museum home, and it wasn't long before every king or head of state wanted a copy-- so there are now Dippys in the national museums in France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Argentina. (more…)

"And the Bane grew green"-- but not very.

October 10, 2018

Tags: Beneath the Hill, Strip mining

"And the Bane grew green" was the ending of Beneath the Hill. That was true, but I'm afraid it was also wishful thinking. Because the topsoil was gone, the grass that grew there was for a long while pretty scraggly. It's greener now, but there are no trees. In an untended pasture, the surrounding woods will creep in year by year to reclaim it, but, sadly, their seedlings do not take root in the Bane's stony soil...

The Arthurs are gone. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur retired to Florida to be near Margaret (Miggle), who is a professor of Marine Archaeology at FSU. Trish and her husband, Frank Allan, live over White Oak Ridge, in Colwyn. Morton, the youngest Arthur, lives with his wife and family in Oakland, California. The new owners of the farm are a Jack and Frances Shadwell; they're due to move in next week. The rumor is that Frances is a soils reclamation scientist. Interesting!

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

October 2, 2018

Tags: Beneath the Hill, 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: Beneath the Hill, 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: Beneath the Hill, 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, Beneath the Hill

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…)

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