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

If at first you take a pratfall...

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 Read More 

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If at first...

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  Read More 

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

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!  Read More 

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My Favorite Dinosaur (of 2017)

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  Read More 

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