Hathaway, send me a bus!March 30th, 2011 at 11:50
There have been so many marvellous, heartfelt posts about the passing of Diana Wynne Jones, who was not only a wonderful children’s author and, by all accounts, an extraordinary person, but also one of the most influential fantasists of our time.
If you only read one of these, let it be the very personal and emotional tribute from Diana’s friend Neil Gaiman, one of the people called to her beside at the end. He speaks about the person he has lost as well as her work, the two things integrating seamlessly, and it is as fine a eulogy as anyone could hope for.
Emma Bull has also posted about her personal memories of Diana, with a marvellous portrait of her character and the adventures she had.
Then we have a huge collection of posts by people who did not know Diana except through her books, each trying to capture the loss they feel and just what was so important about Diana Wynne Jones and her writing.
Sarah Monette talks about DWJ’s characters as outsiders with particular reference to Witch Week, about dark themes and abuse with particular reference to Charmed Life, and about the vivid humanity evident in her books.
Natalie, one of the digital editors at Voyager Books brought new insight (for me) with her post about DWJ’s use of embarrassment as an obstacle and challenge for so many of her characters, and how the true definition of a hero is someone who is prepared to risk embarrassment to speak out.
Bothersome Words talked about her childhood memories of particular DWJ discoveries and favourite moments, and the importance of properly appreciating Fire and Hemlock.
Lili Wilkinson recounts her own discoveries of each book, and the dark times in which DWJ books were scarce, balanced with the joyous time of Mass Reprints – and, of course, about Fire and Hemlock.
A brief but elegant elegy from Shana at Torque Control refers to A Tough Guide to Fantasyland (the book I have MOST gifted to people, especially fantasy writers) and Diana’s sharp, ‘skewering’ sense of humour.
Speaking of a Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Jim Hines shares an anecdote about how that book’s highly sarcastic description of ‘stew’ as the universal meal pushed (shamed!) him to create far interesting gastronomic choices for his goblins, and to stretch beyond the easy choices.
Chris Moriarty wrote about the ten life lessons she took from Diana Wynne Jones’ novels.
Many readers wrote and blogged letters to Diana Wynne Jones, as was suggested last year when she ceased chemotherapy, so that she could actually hear how important she was to us before she died. This one, reposted by Maggie Steifvater, is touching and beautiful and shows how important writers are as inspirations and role models and heroes.
Diana Wynne Jones was absolutely my hero, and I have really enjoyed reading so many testaments to the fact that she was a hero to so many writers, and readers: those who knew and loved her, and those who were deeply affected by her words, her books, her characters and her plots.
If I’ve missed a good post about Diana and/or her work, please let me know in the comments!
EDIT: An in-depth, evocative obituary by Farah Mendelsohn.