Saturday, March 26, 2011

Goodbye, Diana Wynne Jones

The news about the death of Diana Wynne Jones, one of the finest writers of Young Adult fantasy of our times, has been all over the 'nets. My younger daughter phoned me this morning to make sure I'd heard. Rather than reminisce about the importance of Jones's work, her inspiration, her humor and understanding of human nature, her wonderful characters, I'd like to talk about connection.

So often, when we love a writer's work and when that work speaks to us deeply, we feel as if we know that writer. When a writer like Diana Wynne Jones, read avidly by so many fans, dies, it feels like a personal loss, and in a very real sense it is. We grieve the originator of the stories that touched our hearts (and perhaps fired us up to write stories of our own). We mourn the stories that we will never read because they will never be written now. We feel as if we have lost part of ourselves.

To me, this is part of the magic of story-telling. I started to write, "books," but books in the broadest sense, encompassing other story-telling media as well. Writing and reading connect us to a larger community, one beyond the scope of our daily lives (or the lives of most of us). In this sense, it doesn't matter that I've never spoken with Jones in person, never shaken her hand, never heard her laugh. But also, I never told her how much I loved her books...and that's something I regret.

I've been on both sides--I've written letters of appreciation and gone up to writers at conventions to thank them for how their work has enriched my life. I've also received such letters and I treasure them. When I'm beset by tsumanis of self-doubt and feel as if I can't write my way out of a wet paper bag and everything I've tried to do is utter drek, of no meaning or even light entertainment, then I take out those letters and go, "Wow! I made a difference...maybe it's okay to keep writing..."

If there's a message to this post, it's this: Don't wait. Let the people who are important to you, and the people you love, know it now.


  1. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for continuing the story of Darkover. Reading Hastur Lord and the Alton Gift was like having Marion Zimmer Bradley back - with much more! I have to admit that I didn't really enjoy the Ages of Chaos books, they weren't upto your usual high quality, but you're back on top of your form with the Alton Gift. So thank you again.. and looking forward to Children of Kings. I hope that I don't have to wait too long for it to be released in India!

  2. @ lavanya - thank you so much for writing to me! It's always wonderful to hear that my writing has touched others, but even more amazing to me to hear from so far away.

    I'm in the middle of a first-pass revision of The Children of Kings (it's July 21 today); then it goes to the MZB Literary Trust for their approval and then off to the publisher, who will schedule it. As soon as I have a publication date, I'll let you know!