Jane Louise Curry

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

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

"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!

It was years, though, before my mumbled reply of "I write fantasy novels for children," to a new acquaintance's question of "And what do you do?" earned me anything more than glazed-over eyes and "Um... ah, that must be nice for you." In this century it's usually genuine interest, even enthusiasm or downright excitement. But, yes, once in a long while you can still get, "Um... ah, that must be nice for you." You can almost hear them think, "What does that mean?" and see them wonder vaguely, "Something like...?

Or...? Or even...

Never! If someone were actually to ask, "What does that mean?", years ago I probably struggled politely to stuff my latest into a nutshell. Now, I hope I would laugh and tell the truth: you can't put fantasy into a nutshell-- and mine are not all fantasy, anyway. "But if you're ever curious enough to read one, I'd probably suggest Beneath the Hill. It begins in the real world, and you might be drawn in. Or not. I was. Eight books deep."


  1. September 15, 2017 2:57 AM CEST
    Heh. I'd read any of those (Traffle Hooberlin clearly has enough house to keep a good library in, for one thing). And I am delighted to see the Abaloc titles, among others, coming back into print and e-print, particularly Beneath the Hill. I admit, though, that there's one title I don't see on the site yet which I hope is returning sooner rather than later. That's The Sleepers, which I have been recommending to people for many, many years as my very favorite modern-day spin on the Matter of Arthur (and I have read a lot of those). One other question, mostly in hopes of perhaps inspiring a future blog entry: were there ever prospects for more books about the Birds after The Ice Ghosts Mystery? I remember watching my library shelves for a long while after reading that one in hopes of a follow-up.
    - John C. Bunnell
  2. September 15, 2017 12:11 PM CEST
    from Jane... Thanks, John, for your welcome to the return of the Abaloc books! I'm delighted to have them back myself-- and looking so great in paperback. The rest of my books I've been putting up from scratch myself, with DARK SHADE now at the cover-design stage. THE SLEEPERS, about which you ask, is at the top of the pile of those to follow this year and next, but I have so many projects going right now that I can't even guess when SLEEPERS will reappear. (I am at the moment working on a new book cover design for the upcoming reappearance of THE HOUSENAPPER as a paperback.) And-- sorry!-- no, the Bird family of Pasadena haven't yet begun slipping me hints about what they've been up to since THE ICE GHOSTS MYSTERY. I would underline that "yet," since stories adding themselves to my "Upcoming" notebook often pop up unexpectedly and shoulder their way toward the head of the line. (Several quite nice story ideas have been standing in the queue for decades; I should get the notebook out and add your query.) What I need is an additional month or two in the year!
    - Jane Curry

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