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Diana's replies to questions from fans

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DIANA'S ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

March 2001.
Part 2 of answers to questions placed between November 2000 and February 2001

From ?

  • Diana, this is not really a question but I love your books. they dont jump arround like othr books I've read. Well, how do you wight your books: hand, couligraphy compouter?What?Well, I hope you tell everybody out there and give them tips on how to wright. :-}
Other Comments
  • 13/femail/U.S.A./ lkes bookes about heroes and Goddess in the late 1800
Diana's Reply

I start writing my books by hand, always. That way nothing gets between me and the page. After that I do a very careful rewrite on the computer.

From kate M.

  • WHY DO YOU LIKE TO WRITE??
Other Comments
  • 10/femail/U.S.A.
Diana's Reply

Good question. Because I like doing it more than anything else in the world. I get miserable when I'm not writing anything.

From C.S.B

  • when were you born? how old were you when you started writing? what was your first book
Other Comments
  • love your books
Diana's Reply

Born in 1934. Started trying to write when I was eight, but this is something it takes years to learn. The first book I finished was called ROLLING RORY, but it was no good. The first book I got published was WILKINS' TOOTH, in 1973. See what I mean? It took a long time to find out how to write a book people wanted to publish.

From CHEYANNE M

  • DO YOU ENJOY BING FAMOUS??????????
Other Comments
  • 11/FEMAIL/U.S.A.
Diana's Reply

It is a very nice feeling sometimes - when I drive through another town, for instance, I can think 'Someone in one of these houses is reading one of my books, now, this minute.' But that feels strange,too.

From hayley

  • I've read your book the dark lord of derkholm and a lady at my library said the next in the series was the year of the griffin so i read that. however i can't find out which books come after it and in which order. Ive also read charmed life as my friend got it me for christmas and want to know the order of the to as it was also exellent. please could you find the time to answer my questions as i think these are the best books in the world and want to read them all.
Other Comments
  • im 13 years old and i am hooked on your books. i think all the ones i have read are great
Diana's Reply

Give me time! YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN is the very latest book I have written and there has not been time for me to do any more books in that series. I am afraid you will have to wait a while. If you have read CHARMED LIFE then the next one will be THE LIVES OF CHRISTOPHER CHANT, then you can read WITCH WEEK and THE MAGICIANS OF CAPRONA in any order, and MIXED MAGICS last of all. If you can't find those at once, you could try HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE and CASTLE IN THE AIR, or maybe DEEP SECRET. There are quite a lot of books you could look for. You might like A TALE OF TIME CITY, THE HOMEWARD BOUNDERS, ARCHER'S GOON, BLACK MARIA. These are all different.

From Merlin Magicton or Matthew

  • Dear Diana Wynne Jones, I recently purchased your whole serious of books and I was curious if there was a role playing site, where you could make up characters and write stories for them. I would appreciate it if you would email if there is one. Because I really enjoy reading your books and I am hoping to write stories having to do with them.
Diana's Reply

There isn't a playing site that I know of, though I know some people in Oxford have been doing role playing out of THE SPELLCOATS for years - one of them even calls herself Tanaqui all the time. It's possible they might have a site now, but I don't know.

From Hannah

  • Dear Diana, I absolutely adore your book Howl's moving castle and would like to know what gave you the idea of a moving castle? and also does anyone remind you of Calcifer? thanks for being such an excellent writer love Hannah
Other Comments
  • I am 12 years old and i was greatly inspired by your books.
Diana's Reply

The idea of the moving castle was given to me by a boy at a school I was visiting. I took his name down so that when I'd written the book I could put in the front who had given me the idea - then I put it in a safe place and forgot what the safe place was. If you look in the front of a copy of HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, you will see where I explain this. But no one reminds me of Calcifer. No one could.

From Ian McLachlan

  • Do you think that people personify particular elements, some being strongly fire, for example, others, water, air or earth? I have a friend who seems to make very thin contact with life. I don't know what I mean by this. He reminds me of the old Chrestomanci in the Nine Lives of Christopher Chant, but when young and wandering on the first(?) plane. I don't know why. Is there any way I can 'firm him up?' Or would this be a mistake?
Other Comments
  • In the wrong time and stuck out on the edge of nowhere. 27 and a captive of the One for seven years.
Diana's Reply

In the Middle Ages everyone was quite sure that people WERE made up of the elements of earth, air, fire and water, and that some were mostly one or the other. I think there is some truth in this, although most people strike me as neither one thing nor the other. I have a friend who insists she is a water being. Your friend sounds to be air. 'Firming him up' might take an expert magician, but you might try, very cautiously, linking him to earth a little. The trouble is, you can easily destroy a person's balance, so go very carefully.

From Kerrie Le Lievre

  • Dear Diana Wynne Jones, I am writing to request your permission to quote from your article _Heroes_, which is published on this website, in two academic papers I am currently planning. The first work is a chapter of my PhD thesis, which looks at the concept of heroism in high fantasy: I would like to reference your idea that heroes essentially 'play against themselves'. The second paper I am working on is an examination of the tomboy heroine in the YA fantasies of Tamora Pierce, for which I would like to quote your comments on both the increased acceptability of female (as opposed to honorary-male) protagonists in YA literature, and the way the facts of being physically female intrude on the way stories are supposed to work and what they are supposed to deal with. If I am able to quote from your article, I will of course ensure that references are cited correctly, MLA style, as electronic sources. Thank you for considering my request. Yours sincerely, Kerrie Le Lievre.
Other Comments
  • I am a Ph.D student at the University of Adelaide (24 yrs old) studying the high fantasy novels of J. R. R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin and Patricia A. McKillip. I have found 'The Shape of the narrative in _The Lord of the Rings_ very interesting! Also _The Tough Guide to Fantasyland_, which I loaned to my supervisor and didn't get back for six months!
Diana's Reply

Certainly you may quote from my article on 'Heroes'. It's very appropriate because I gave the lecture that was printed as this article when I was doing a tour of Australia. I hope your thesis shapes up well. And please also quote me about female protagonists. Tell your supervisor, by the way, that he/she should buy a Tough Guide for themselves!

From Nicholas Duxson

  • I would like to know where you get ideas from?
Other Comments
  • I am ten years old. I am your no1# fan
Diana's Reply

As I said to someone else earlier, I get my ideas from all sorts of - mostly unexpected - places. Sometimes people I meet make suggestions, like the boy did over the moving castle, or someone else I met in Hay on Wye recently, who asked me to please write more about Nick Mallory from DEEP SECRET (and I just have). But just as often ideas come from queer things people say, or things I see, or even from my dog or my cat. The oddest way I got an idea was when my children had a fight and knocked the radio off a table on to a stone floor. My husband did a lot of shouting about how they'd ruined the radio, and then he picked it up and turned it on and it said' 'Oh no! I can't stand any more!' This gave me the idea for a book called POWER OF THREE, but no one would know that unless I told them.

From Fuchsia

  • How do you get such brilliant and magical ideas for your books?
Other Comments
  • I am 12 years old. I absolutly adore your books. I got all four of the Dalemark books for Christmas. I've read all of the Chrestomanci books. I loooovvvveeee 'The Spellcoats'. I have wanted to be an author ever since I was four years old.
Diana's Reply

See my reply to Nicholas Duxson, for some of the answer. But you said MAGICAL. And I think I get magical ideas because I am a person that strange things happen to, some of them hard to explain unless they are magical. For instance, whenever I go to Cornwall something peculiar happens - on one occasion I met an obvious witch doing a very questionable spell in a stone circle.

From Fuchsia Wilkins

  • Yes, I did do the project. Would you like a copy? If so how could I send it to you? I got quite a lot of things from of off of this site.
Other Comments
  • I wrote to you before - do you remember?
Diana's Reply

I'm so glad you did the project - I was worried. Why don't you tap it in and send it to this site so that we can all read it?

From Taylor Gobar
  • Is there a year in which The Chrestomanci Chronicles take place?
Other Comments
  • -My teacher wants to know
Diana's Reply

Isn't that just like a teacher? As far as I know, the world of Chrestomanci keeps the same date as we do, only because they use magic in place of technology everything there seems old fashioned. So CHARMED LIFE happened quite recently, and THE LIVES OF CHRISTOPHER CHANT twenty-five years earlier. THE MAGICIANS OF CAPRONA takes place about six months later than CHARMED LIFE and WITCH WEEK happens NOW.

From Ella

  • I'm absolutely obsessed with your books and it's pretty hard to get hold of them. It was your books that got me hooked on fantasy. I like the way, in "Dark Lord of Derkholm" and "Year of the Griffin," you made the griffins sound so human and yet unique. Not many authors can do this and I think it bears comparison with what Brian Jacques does in his Redwall series. I saw a question from somebody named Mai and I really want the answer, too. I totally did not get the end of Fire and Hemlock, even though I loved the rest of it. I also loved the Dalemark Quartet, especially "The Crown of Dalemark." "Eight Days of Luke" got me hooked on Norse Mythology. By the way, I think Howl and Sophie are two of your best characters.
Other Comments
  • I'm a 7th grader from Israel who dreams of a writing career, but I can't seem to be able to write fantasy, which is the thing I most want to write. Do you have any tips?
Diana's Reply

I have done an answer to Mai now and perhaps you'd like to look at that to save me repeating myself all over the site. Do you mind? And my sympathy for the way you can't seem to write fantasy. I was just the same at more or less the same stage. I used to be afraid there was something wrong with my imagination, but I think the problem was that I was trying too hard and getting too worried about the way other people who were older seemed so good at it. You have to learn the way YOU need to do it, you see. And as you live in Israel, the sort of fantasy that is going to come naturally to you is not quite the same as it is for people who live in Britain. I suggest you relax and drink in what is strange in the air around you. I think you will find something quite unique to write about.

From hayley .p.

  • i have read the dark lord of derkholm and i thought it was exellent so i asked the librarian for the next book in the series and she got me the year of the griffin and was just as pleased the next day i went to the library and asked if there were any more and was deeply dissappointed when she said she didnt know. is there another book? i hope there is as i want to know how blade got on with eldas friend claudia and also about elda herself and everyone else. i think your storys are great and i have been reading charmed life which i got as a present and witch week but i dont know the correct order.
Other Comments
  • im 13 years old and i love your books (well everyone i have read) my friend was reading harry potter and she finished and wanted a new book to read i said " just look for a book by diana wynne jones and you can count on it to be good" she did and now she to is hooked. Please find the time to answer my question as me and my friend will be very gratefull. 8) P.S im sorry that this letter is SO long only when i start to type i cant stop !!! thanx a billion your no.1 supporters.
Diana's Reply

As I said, give me time! My sister has made me promise to write another griffin book, so I will before long. Anyway, I want to know most of things you do too.

From Lisa Savage

  • Ihaven't got a question really l just wanted to say how wonderful it is to find your books again. I am thirty one years old and have thought about your books for many a year! After reading your books at the age of about twelve, l sort of grew up and read silly "Sweet Dreams" books (teenage version of Mills and Boon), l am so pleased to have come across them again, and am reliving my youth. I am telling all my mad youthful old friends about you and they are currently buying your books for their children, l am still too youthful and irresponsible to have my own children! Sorry to ramble on, but l just wanted to tell you how wonderful your books really are and l will introduce them to my one month old nephew as soon as possible. Thankyou again.
Diana's Reply

Thank YOU. What a wonderful message!

From Faigie

  • Would you ever consider having some of your stories made out into a comic book? I think that would be quite interesting. (If you do, I'm an artist!!) Also, are you considering writing another book to the Dalemark series? I really think that what happens after the Crown of Dalemark has a lot of potential. Another question: Are your stories always based on something, or have you ever just sat down to write whatever came into your head at the time? Thanks!
Other Comments
  • I am your #1 fan in Montreal, Quebec, Canada! No kidding! The first DWJ book I read was The Lives of Christopher Chant, at the age of 12, and it is still one of my very favorites (the best Chrestomanci book, I think). Ever since, I devoured every other DWJ book I could get ahold of, and convinced the librarians at my library to get hooked on them too. I am in the midst of collecting every single book you have written, and since HarperCollins republished recently, I am very close to my goal *yay*! I don't know how many times I've read and reread your books, they are what I read when I have nothing else to do, but all I can say is, keep writing! I started my little sister reading your books, I gave her A Tale of Time City to read and she absolutely loved it, couldn't put the book down! By the way, I am now 20 years old, and as big a fan as ever. (I've considered writing to you before, ever since I was in NYC for a summer and read all the DWJ books the NYPL had, but writing through a publisher wasn't my cup of tea..)Anyway, if you're ever looking for any new ideas (as if you could ever run out of ideas) I've got a couple up my sleeve, from some crazy dreams I've had.
Diana's Reply

Oh, please tell me your crazy dreams. I get quite a few ideas from my own dreams, but I've never had any from someone else's dreams before. This would be a First. Having stories made into a comic book is quite a complicated undertaking - though I admit it would be nice. You have to interest one of the big comics firms first, usually. They are very hard-nosed and commercial and not easy to deal with. Several friends of mine have at different times been involved with these firms and they have all given up in annoyance before long. I keep an open mind about more books in the Dalemark series. I agree with you that there is room for a straight sequel to THE CROWN but there are also several gaps among the earlier volumes where I would like to know what happened. But so far nothing has demanded to be written. Very often, though, I sit down with empty paper, having told my agent that I was going to do a book on such-and-such, and then find I am doing something quite different. So something may well come along. Which brings me to your other question, to which the answer is Yes. I have often sat down and written whatever came. Mostly these writings turn out shapeless and squashy - and I call them Five Finger Exercises - but sooner or later some of what is in them goes into a proper book. The only one that has actually WORKED this way is ARCHER'S GOON, where I didn't know what was going to happen from one page to the next - that is, until I came to the part where Howard and the Goon are racing about in the digger, when I suddenly remembered that I had dreamed I was writing this bit about four years before. I had quite forgotten until then.

From Dominic

  • Hi! My name is Dominic and I am 12 years old and live in South Africa. I was in a bookshop when I found your books on the middle shelf, the covers intrigued me the most and I read Witch Week. And I LOVE IT! It is such an amazing story. It seems so modern, as if it was written this year, but then I found out that you had written it over 15 years ago. Anyway, I have ordered a whole lot of your books and I can't wait to start reading them. I especially love The Chrestomanci series. Will you ever be opening it up again? And writing more stories for it? I love them. I actually just wanted to tell you how much I love your books, and I think you are a wonderful author. Thank you!
Diana's Reply

The way my publishers have done the Chrestomanci books is quite juicily enticing, isn't it? I'm so glad you were enticed. Even gladder that you like them so much. The last one is MIXED MAGICS and that was written quite recently. It was annoying, in a way, because I'd always hoped there would be more and longer stories to come, and these were quite short. Still, I keep hoping that there will be more. And thank you.

From B. Bishop

  • Better late than never!I'm 47 years old and am just finishing up the Crestomanci series with Mixed Magics. I love you Diana! With your rich language and wonderfully original plots and excellent characters. I have savoured and doled out only a couple pages at a time to make the stories last longer. Please tell me that you will be writing more Crestomanci books.
Diana's Reply

As I have said to Dominic, so far there doesn't seem to be anything else about Chrestomanci, but I keep hoping. You wouldn't consider going on to some of my other books while we hope, would you? You'd like the Moving Castle books. Honest. And there are a lot of others.

From Caroline

  • Will there be anymore full-length Chrestomanci Novels? I've read Mixed Magics, Charmed Life, Magicans of Caprona, and Witch Week, and I would love another! Im a big fan, and I've asked for many of your books for Christmas. Also, will there be any more books involving Cat? He's my favorite character.
Other Comments
  • I'm 13 and live in Morganton, North Carolina, NC. I've been your friend since I first read Charmed Life a year ago.
Diana's Reply

Let's hope so. The trouble is that my imagination doesn't work either to order or the way I think it does. And I like Cat too, but he's a difficult person, particularly as he gets older. That's as far as I know, up to now.

From Bethany Golding

  • Will you ever write another book for the Chrestomanci series? (Please do!)
Other Comments
  • I am 13 and I live in Ludlow. My friend Klara and I are MAJOR fans of all your books, especially the wonderful Chrestomanci series. My favourite has to be 'The Nine Lives of Christopher Chant' cause it was the longest and the most intriguing. Klara and I beg you to write another!!!!!! I would be very grateful to receive a reply. Perhaps you could also send one to my friend, at: pheonix_wings@hotmail.com Thankyou!
Diana's Reply

I keep hoping I will, particularly as I so often sit down to write one thing and find I'm writing something quite different. One queer problem is that I get an idea that I think will be about Chrestomanci or Cat and then it turns out to belong to quite another book. This has happened a lot of times. But I will keep trying.

From Bethany Golding

  • What has inspired you the most to write?
Other Comments
  • I am 13 and I live in Ludlow. My friend Klara and I are MAJOR fans of all Diana Wynne Jones' books!
Diana's Reply

I don't think I was ever sort of inspired exactly. When I was eight years old, in the middle of one afternoon, I suddenly knew I was going to be a writer. So I write because that's what I am - a writer.

From Janine

  • Hi Diana I recently recieved a book called Witch Week from the Chrestomanci series for Christmas. I am really enjoying it however I don't really understand the background of it as I haven't read the first one and I do not know what the name of it is so could you please tell me what the first book in the Chrestomanci series is called? Thank - you.
Diana's Reply

The first book is called CHARMED LIFE. That tells you about the other worlds and who Chrestomanci is, but it then all gets explained further in THE LIVES OF CHRISTOPHER CHANT. You can read THE MAGICIANS OF CAPRONA without needing any of the others, though.

From Siah Shing Yeen

  • Hi Mrs Jones, I came from Singapore, and i became a fan of your books ever since i read Charmed Life.This led me to read all the other 5 Chrestomanci books.I love fantasies, and i feel that your Chrestomanci books are just right for me.I love all the characters in all the Chrestomanci books,especially Chrestomanci himself.I love Black Maria too.The jokes that Chris makes make me laugh! My question is,may i know if you are still writing any other Chrestomanci books? Please do!
Other Comments
  • I have quite a lot of trouble getting hold of your books,especially the Chrestomanci ones.They are always borrow out in the libraries and rent out in the bookstores. I really wish there are shows on the Chrestomanci books.Many people are fans of your books. I really hope that you will write more Chrestomanci books. They are awesome!
Diana's Reply

I am so sorry you have such trouble getting hold of Chrestomanci books where you are. And, as I have been telling other people on this site, I do keep hoping that I will write another Chrestomanci book, but so far this has not happened. I don't plan books, you see. They happen to me. It may well be that one will come bursting into my head tomorrow, but I can't promise it. My poor agent sighs these days and says she is used to never knowing what to expect. (An agent is the person who arranges for books to go to the right publisher. Mine is very good. She makes helpful suggestions and once she sent me a photo of a shop in the middle of nowhere that was selling magic wands).

From Siah Shing Yeen

  • Hi Diana!!! Just want to say that i love all your books and i really really beg you to write more Chrestomanci books. I love that series!!! PLease say u would write more Chrestomanci books in the future.Will you? You will make many people happy if u did that!!And,are the Chrestomanci books going to be make into flims?
Other Comments
  • I'm 14 years old and i just adore your books!
Diana's Reply

I'll try, but I can't promise.

From Heather

  • I love the Chrestomanci series, but I would really love it if you continued them with a book that's about chrestomanci's every day life. Slso do you think it would be possible to a series about one of the chretomanci's I'm still trying to figure out how many there are and if they're all tall and thin. Also do you think you could start a new more like it's about our world with a slight twist? Anyway, thank you.
Other Comments
  • Oh I'm 15. I've been reading your books since age 8 or ten.
Diana's Reply

These are very interesting suggestions. Thank you. Here I am wondering if I am ever going to do another Chrestomanci book, and you make the perfect suggestion! I will, seriously, think about Chrestomanci's everyday life. I can't promise anything will come of it, but we'll see. And your other suggestion - a book that's more like our world with a twist - makes me wonder if you have read FIRE AND HEMLOCK. This book is exactly that. But I was also thinking of various other twists to everyday life. Some I mean to do. Some, as in ARCHER'S GOON, DOGSBODY, BLACK MARIA, and THE TIME OF THE GHOST, I have already done. Have you read those yet? Or THE OGRE DOWNSTAIRS?

From Maia

  • Is Christopher Chant Chrestomanci when Cat is at Chrestomanci castle? I think so, because the Chrestomanci and Christopher both cannot use magic when they are touching silver, but I would like to make sure. Are you writing another "THE CHRONICLES OF CHRISTOMANCI" I just got volume I
Diana's Reply

The answer is Yes. By the time Cat gets to Chrestomanci Castle, Christopher is actually Sir Christopher Chant and a very grown up person. I keep wanting to fill in the gap, when Christopher is about 15 and getting terribly interested in clothes and girls, but so far this has not happened.

From Dr. Susan Ang

  • Dear Diana Wynne Jones Although it was with immense and intense pleasure that I read Mixed Magics, I was wondering if you might ever write another full-length Chrestomanci novel with Tonino and Cat in it; Janet intrigued me in Charmed Life, and it would be interesting to see her developed, perhaps, in another novel. I have also always hoped for another Howl book; and, wondering in a zany kind of way whether it would ever be possible to have Howl meets Chrestomanci meets Derk meets Rupert Venables, I thought, regretfully, that the world of the magids felt different from the others, but would like to know what you think: would such a novel be possible, and might it ever be written? On completely another note, the mechanics of the moving castle have been obsessing me for the last few days: what happens when someone is in the flower shop but the knob of the castle is turned to a different entrance than Market Chipping: do the spaces of shop and castle remain continuous and mutually accessible? Why don't Howl and Sophie live in the mansion-attached-to-the castle -- or do they? What happens to the different houses attached to the different entrances when the moving castle is stolen in Castle in the Air? Your work has given me such enormous pleasure. Thank you. Susan Ang
Other Comments
  • Someone who ruthlessly pushes little children aside in bookshops, going 'Me first, me first', whenever a new Diana Wynne Jones book hits the shelves....
Diana's Reply

I will picture you pushing little children aside! Tut, tut. As I have been saying to a lot of people on this site, there are many possibilities for more Chrestomanci books, but so far they haven't happened. This is not for want of trying. I've had many shots over the years at it and several recently - because, like you, I am interested in Janet and would like to see more of her - but they have all blown up on their launching pads so far. One of the problems came to me when you were suggesting Howl meets Chrestomanci etc. There are a thousand different types and _feels_ of magic and I have to find a story that contains the magic that is specific to Chrestomanci's world. So far I haven't. Notions of magic keep generating other books, but not Chrestomanci books. Or not so far. In the Moving Castle, you can see the other places where the castle is if you look out of the appropriate window, but you can't access them unless the knob is turned the right way. When the castle was stolen, the mansion and the other places just collapsed back to the empty premises they were before the castle was inserted. The mansion must have looked particularly dreary. I think Sophie and Howl may have moved there as soon as Morgan grew big enough. Children fill up spaces so and need places where they can > rush about and roar. The mansion should be perfect.

From ?

  • Diana please write more of the CHRESTOMANCI books??? Please? I'll be youre best friend?!?!?!
Other Comments
  • I am ten and i lllove your books!!
Diana's Reply

You're yet another person who wants another Chrestomanci book. I keep trying. Books don't happen by order, that's the problem.

From Emily Busch

  • I am reading your first book of the chronicles of chrestomanci. I was just wondering if you are caming out with a third volume of it. I enjoy reading them. Emily
Other Comments
  • Well, I am a senior in Madison High School in Rexburg, Idaho. I love to read books that deals with magic and mysteries. That's why I like your books about Chrestomanci. Well, Have fun writting more books.
Diana's Reply

I am glad you enjoy the Chestomanci chronicles. So far, I am not planning a third volume, not because I don't want to, or even because there aren't things to tell - there are lots! - but just because a new book about Chrestomanci has refused to get written. I keep trying, and none of them work.

From Katherine Lonergan

  • Dear Mrs. Jones, Ever since i read the first page of Howl's Moving Castle at age 7, I have been hooked on your amazing books. I can't say enough about the fantastic worlds filled with people who spark interest and grab attention at their first word to do them justice. And of course, everything is spiced with your special brand of witty humor that has me laughing tears. I recently purchased the new editions of the Chronicles of Chrestomanci(and they look great!) I saw that on the front cover there is a quote saying "mad about harry? try diana." I have to say that there is ABSOLUTLEY no comparison what so ever! Never have I encountered more enchanting and entertaining work than yours. Which brings me to my question.(finally) Has there ever been a female Chrestomanci? I am very curious to know. If not, do you plan on ever writing about one? Thank you very much for taking the time to read my message!
Other Comments
  • I am 14 years old, and have been a devotee since I was seven. I live in the US,(Massachusetts) and I am hoping very much that you might be planning a trip here sometime in the future. :)
Diana's Reply

What nice things you say. Thank you. You may be interested to know that I laughed myself to tears and then fell off a sofa while I was writing HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE. The rest of my family couldn't believe it. I treasure your idea of a female Chrestomanci. I don't see why there shouldn't be one, but probably in the future. Chrestomanci's world is much more old fashioned thasn ours that I suspect that their stuffy government ministers would be OUTRAGED. But what a GOOD IDEA!

From Ashley Taylor

  • Just bought Charmed life today.It will be the first book of yours I've ever read.Are you thinking of writing more books in the Chrestomanci series?Because these books are better than the Harry Potter books and I'm not making that up.If you are,please make them longer,like as long as Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling.No, not like that 'cause you write better.
Diana's Reply

Well, as I've been explaining to other people, books don't get written to order, and though I agree with you that another Chrestomanci book would be great, and I have made several attemps to do one, it so far hasn'r happened. I have written lots of other books, though. Why don't you try a few while we wait? And it's interesting that you should ask me to make the book longer. Books by other people seem to get longer and LONGER - you only have to look at Philip Pullman's and the latest Harry Potter - and, without meaning to, I find that things I write are getting longer too. My latest one, which is only half done so far, is going to be about 300 pages once it's finished. Readers seem to prefer this. Can't be bad. By the way this book is very magical, but about different people.

From Tamsin W-Smith

  • I do have a question, but the thing I really wanted to say was how much I love your books, and how much they (and your autobiography!) gave me hope and courage in my own writing. I am studying medieval literature as a postgrad and I particularly enjoy the mythic qualities of your books (I hope that doesn't sound too pretentious). But the best thing about them is the humour - that's the addictive part! It's a trait that JK Rowling has very successfully borrowed (I'd be prepared to bet she's a fan!). Lots of fantasy writers seem to prefer squeezing their readers through an emotional mangle by killing off all the empathetic characters, or trying to beat Tolkien at the game of weaving plots of such complexity that the reader goes blind or mad, or both! For the first time reading your books, I found a writing voice I could identify with, enough that I realised that the stuff I wanted to write wasn't 'wrong' and that the genre could be wide enough for all sorts of writing. And I'd like to agree with the other writer that while I love (and grew up with) your children's books, the recent adult ones are awesome. My question is a writing one, and I hope that's OK. I am always very impressed by the way you manage to make the speech of each of the different characters so evocative of their personalities. I find general and personal description easier, but all of my characters have a depressing persistence in talking in the same way (unless they suddenly take a fancy to speaking with an accent - and they don't often make up their minds about that either!). It seems a bit calculating to deliberately pick a verbal idiosyncracy and inflict it on them - I wonder if you have any suggestions?
Diana's Reply

HOW I agree with you about the fantasy writers who 'prefer squeezing their readers through an emotional mangle'! At the moment I am a judge for the World Fantasy Awards and I keep getting huge boxes of just such books, all of them over 500 pages long, too, and heavily dependent on Tolkien. They make the most depressing reading - if you can follow who is who and which order of priestesses is murdering whom and which is whose Lost Heir and what talisman is where. I wish they wouldn't. I hoped to put them all off by writing 'The Tough Guide to Fantasyland' but they just seem to have come on more strongly for it. I suppose every writer comes upon that 'for the first time' occasion, when they realise what it is they want to do and that it IS possible. I am so glad that my writing gave you your moment. Ironically enough, it was Tolkien who was mine (but this was long ago) at a point when everyone despised fantasy. I knew I wanted to write fantasy. I was wondering if I was going to have to do it as a wholly private activity when I nearly had a miscarriage and was sent to bed. In order to keep me there, they found me the biggest book they could, which happened to be 'Lord of the Rings'. And I read it and thought, Oh one IS allowed to write whole books of fantasy! It was such a relief - rather as you describe. So I suppose I am grateful to Tolkien in spite of everything. Your question about the way characters speak - from what you say, it seems as if you are visualising your people but not LISTENING to them. Have them walk about in your head and say their say and do their own thing, and you will find that you know just what they sound like. Everyone has her/his particular tricks of speech. Some of these are quite mild - no need to pick on an idiosycracy. It is often just a matter of a particular rhythm. Once you HEAR the characters' voices, you'll have no problem. (But what galls me is that when one has done this, very carefully, and written what the characters say, along comes a dim-witted copy editor and rewrites all the talk because it's not 'grammatical'. When did people ever speak grammar? I have had more rows with copy editors than I have had hot dinners.)

From Emmanuel

  • Dear Diana, I discovered lately the Worlds of Chestomanci, and the similarity with that of Harry Potter struck me. Did you collaborate with Mrs Rowling or did she get her inspirations from you for her writings ? It would be so sad that the success of Harry Potter dos not pay tribute to its origins in such a case! Thank you for answering. Best wishes for the new year ! Emmanuel
Diana's Reply

I think Ms Rowling did get quite a few of her ideas from my books - though I have never met her, so I have never been able to ask her. My books were written many years before the Harry Potter books (CHARMED LIFE was first published in 1977), so any similariities probably come from what she herself read as a child. Once a book is published, out in the world, it is sort of common property, for people to take ideas from and use, and I think this is what happened to my books.

From Heidi Ruth

  • I'm glad to know that all your books are being reprinted. Unfortunately since I live in America I don't how long I'll have to wait. I work for a book store and we just got the Chrestomanci books in on January 10, 2001. Am I going to have to wait eight months for each new book?
Other Comments
  • I'm 27 and became a fan eight or so years ago. Harry Potter has nothing on you!!!!!!
Diana's Reply

I certainly hope you aren't going to have to wait that long. HarperCollins is reissuing my books in America, although they are a different branch of the same firm who are doing the books here in England, and some should be getting through to you by now. If they are not, email their offices and ask why not.

From Antonia Herrera

  • I was wondering how do you feel about the Harry Potter phenomenon and how it reflected in your genre. It seems that most of your books are being republished because of the attention JK Rowling shed upon children's fantasy. I read the first Harry Potter and liked it, but felt that it wasn't as great as to deserve the whole world's spotlight. PS: I was surprised that no one else here had asked this, surely other people have?
Other Comments
  • I'm 16 and I have been thouroughly charmed (since the age of 12) by all your books. Specially since they helped me learn english when I lived in the US. I can now write in English just as well as in spanish, and hope to become a great writer and follow in your children-fantasy footsteps (although not imitate, god forbid! =). Also, as many people here have hinted, it would be so awesome if any of your books became movies. I would think they would go better as animation films than live-actor movies, though... Dogsbody (personal favorite!) seems simple enough so that they couldn't easily screw it up or change it too much (I know it's hard not to be disappointed when considering books versus their movie versions). Sorry for making this kinda long, I will be infinitely happy if you can find the time to answer (or rather comment on) this. Thank you!
Diana's Reply

Yes, I am surprised no one else has asked about Harry Potter. Here anyway. They do everywhere else. While I was answering everyone's questions, a man from the BBC rang up and asked. He wanted to know why I thought everyone has suddenly taken to fantasy and magical stories in such a big way. And some of it is odd. There are thousands of adults who worship Harry Potter and have never ever read any other book like it in their lives. You want to ask what on earth they were doing (or reading) as children. I suspect that the simplest answer is that world opinion suddenly hit crisis-point after many,many years of me and writers like me beavering away trying to show people that this sort of writing was one of the most enjoyable things there is. The good thing is that people are now enjoying it and not sneering at it as 'Just silly stuff for children.' You can get on and write stupendous things now yourself without worrying what their reception will be. I am glad I helped you learn English. This makes me proud. DOGSBODY is actually being considered for filming, but so much deoends on whether the company that is interested can scrape together the money.

From Lucy

  • I've got a couple of questions. One is how do you feel about the success J.K Rowling has had with Harry Potter, when so much of it is similar to your books? I think it's really unfair because your books have much better plots and are much more clever. My other question is do you believe in time travel and parallel worlds etc? Thanks for taking the time to read my questions (I wish I'd found this site sooner!) Bye
Diana's Reply

I have a bit of a double reaction to the Harry Potter phenomenon. On one hand, it has made all magical stories much more acceptable. There was a time when they were sneered at, and journalists (particularly) used to say they were encouraging children to retreat from reality, or - worse - not be able to tell what WAS real. Now the same people just say 'This is not Harry Potter so I don't like it', which is much easier to ignore. And it makes for much greater freedom all round. On the other hand, there is no doubt that JK Rowling's writing has a strong similarity to my books, which I take to be because a lot of mine were written 20 years ago and more and she read them as a child. They were sort of out there for her to use. I don't have a problem with this. What REALLY annoys me is the people (journalists) who don't look at the dates on the books and keep ringing up and asking me why I copy her. There was a time when I jumped up and down and vowed I'd be really rude to the next one. Yes, I think I do believe in parallel worlds. Quite a few scientists seem to nowadays and I have always thought it made sense. Time travel is a more difficult one, because if it WAS possible we'd have met someone from 32000 doing it. And we haven't - unless they're under orders not to disturb the > natives. But it may be possible in a smaller way. I was once driven in a car by woman who admitted to being a witch, and we were going to be late, so she said she'd tinker with time and get us there early. And she did. We took half an hour to cover fifty miles, which included winding lanes and two towns full of rush hour traffic. When we arrived I rushed in saying So sorry I'm late! and everyone said But you're not - you're early! This I was forced to believe.

From Zoe Heath (mum) and Gavin (age 9)

  • by them, maybe subconciously (don't want to get into dodgy ground here)? Apologies but we read the Harry Potters first. Glad to have discovered your stories because there are so many more of them! There seem to be quite a lot of similarities between some of your books and the HP's - though of course you came first! Anyway, as my son insists on me reading to him every night it is very important that I find stories that I enjoy as much as he does - and yours certainly fit the bill. Our favourite so far is Archer's Goon; brilliant! Thanks for keeping us entertained. PS Hathaway has definitely come to Wells and surrounding areas - all the roads are being dug up, apparently just to annoy us and make life as difficult as possible!
Diana's Reply

Yes, I do think JK Rowling almost certainly read my books when she was young. I hope someday to get a chance to ask her. But I'm glad you like mine too. Hathaway has a lot to answer for. He is at present busily digging up Bristol where I live too. And I got a letter from Dorset the other day from the mother of a family who stand by the bus stop and chant 'Hathaway, send a bus!' whenever they're going to town. And I begin to suspect Hathaway runs the railways as well.

From martin

  • i was wondering whether or not you think hexwood could be effectively adapted as a film (i.e. are there too many subtleties and complexities for this to happen); also would you want to write the screenplay yourself - not just for hexwood but if any of your books were to be made into films - for fear of others changing your hard work for the worst?
Other Comments
  • 18 years old in australia
Diana's Reply

It would be great fun to adapt HEXWOOD as a film, wouldn't it? There would be a really confusing first section in which nothing happened in its right order. A film could this rather well, since they don't film in order anyway. But I don't have any confidence in my power to do a script. When the BBC filmed ARCHER'S GOON, I was quite glad to let them give it to a professional scriptwriter, and just asked if I could be consulted all the time. In fact, the producer was the one who insisted that the script should stick acurately to the book, not me, and the poor scriptwriter had quite a hard time trying. You do have to translate a bit between one medium and another, but she wasn't allowed to.

From Claire Harrop

  • I am nearly 15 and have read Howl's movig castle, It is BRILLIANT! It's so good in fact that I would like to make a film. I am writing the script as we speak, and would like your authorisation. Please e-mail me geoff@porrah.fsnet.co.uk ASAP so I can send you the script in progress. If it's OK by you! Thanx Claire Harrop
Other Comments
  • nearly 15, Sherburn High School
Diana's Reply

I am so glad you like HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE this much. But I'm sorry. I can't say you can do a film script because the book is under offer to a film company at the moment. If their project doesn't come off, you can go ahead, but at the moment, I am legally obliged to discourage you. I really am sorry. You sounded so jubilant.

From Alison Gagen

  • This is more of a request for elaboration (though I seem to have snuck some extra questions in too): about Jung. One of the things which made me feel most at home in your books as a child - apart from the way the rules of your worlds are so gloriously explicit, yet unexpressed - and still does, was the way in which you understand and convey the notion of a collective unconcious. There are clearly in your books certain truths - usually myths or stories - which can make absolute sense across worlds and to all people (well, most). When I read Four Quartets, I understood it contained these truths too - and I thought of Fire and Hemlock instantly (in fact, one of my undergrad books on Eliot had a picture of a sunken pool in his garden and it gave me goosebumps, it was so evidently THAT pool.) I'd be interested to hear more. I think your Middle Ages influences (I had to do those chaps at University as well, I wish they'd had such an effect!) and the classical ones are probably formative because they understood and used this too? PS - I think the young Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers might be a suitable Howl (he was Steerpike in the recent Gormenghast, and everyone thought he was Welsh. He's rather unearthly-looking; plenty of young girls are desperate about him, judging by the quantity of lovelorn stuff on the BBC's message board; and he can do 'vain and spiteful', judging by that). Surely Howl must be one of your most enduringly popular characters - especially amongst women! PPS As I'm very myopic (and don't get on with contacts), I am a particular fan of your recurring motive of the mean spectacles-focused stare (from Wilkin's Tooth to Deep Secret). Where did this come from?
Other Comments
  • I've always wanted the opportunity to how grateful I am that I had your books to impact upon my imagination. My growing-up years were definitely the richer for them. Started with Luke aged 9 or so. My Mum would read aloud to me. My younger sister was similarly enthusiastic. 'Purple and orange language' is still a family saying! Am 32 now. Still delighted with every re-read (or - joy! - even new read). So delighted about the Harper Collins reprints as we've lost our family copies of many - or they fell apart.
Diana's Reply

I truly didn't know there was a photo of THAT pool. It was the Eliot one, of course. Fancy that. But FIRE AND HEMLOCK is one of Those Books - it seems to try to realify itself all the time. I was followed about by things out of it while I was writing it, and the same tends to happen to people reading it. When I worried about this to one of my sisters, she said, 'Of course it would. You went and put something real in it, didn't you? Like Shakespeare did with That Scottish Play.' (She is an actress). And I really believe she is right, though whether it's something from the collective unconscious I wouldn't know. Anyway, I have always been fascinated by Jung. I think when Howl is filmed - or perhaps I should say IF - he may well be an animation, not a real person. Pity. Isn't it a nuisance having poor eyes! I can't use contacts either, but I avoided glasses for years even though I have one really bad eye, until now, when I found I had to have special glasses to see my computer screen with. Humiliating. The wearers of glasses in my books derive mostly from my youngest son, who fooled us all that he could see until he was twelve and was then dicovered not to be able to see to the end of the dining table. And the son of a friend who did the push-glasses-against-the -eye bit to focus his dirty look.

From Liz

  • I know this isn't a question: it's more of a suggestion. Your books would make GREAT movies. Have you ever thought of trying that, especially with the Chrestomanci series?
Other Comments
  • I LOVE your books!
Diana's Reply

Yes, actually people are always suggesting they make a movie of one or other of the Chrestomanci books, but all their efforts always fall through. No money.

From madeleine st john

  • To Diana, I was wondering if you were going to write any more books about Howl, Sophie and Calcifer.I really enjoy your books and I would like to find out what happenes to them as Morgan gets older.I have read both Howl books twice since I bought them a week ago! from madeleine
Other Comments
  • I am age 11 and I have already read: Charmed Life The Magicians of Caprona Witch Week The Lives of Christopher Chant Mixed Magics Black Maria A Tale of Time City Castle in the Air Howl's Moving Castle
Diana's Reply

Heavens! Steady on! You need to save one or two books for a rainy day. At the rate you're going, you'll have finished them all by now. I can't write them quick enough to keep up with you. Howl is one of those people I'd love to write about again, but I haven't yet managed to get an idea that works for him. Morgan as a child ought to be one idea, but it just doesn't seem to go yet. I swear to you I have tried, often.


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