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
Abáloc-- and this and my other worlds...
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
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
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! Read More