The Official Diana Wynne Jones Website

Those burning questions ...

ANSWERS FROM DIANA

These are Diana's answers to some of the questions which were asked between March and late July 2001. The main topics on this page are: writing; fanfiction; Fire and Hemlock; Howl's Moving Castle; Harry Potter; Dark Lord of Derkholm, and The Tough Guide. There are more separate pages of answers: Page 2 covers: a film of Howl's Moving Castle; Time of the Ghost; multiverses; The Master; men; The True State of Affairs; The Ogre Downstairs. Page 3 has some of the Chrestomanci questions including: Millie; a female Chrestomanci, and Diana's inspiration for the series. Page 4 is more Chrestomanci questions, and Page 5 contains all the wonderful miscellaneous and general questions, such as Diana's favourite of her books.

On Writing

From Elly

  • I wanted to say thank you. Your books fitted right in with my imagination and I'm glad because they gave me other worlds to go to when this one didn't start out as very nice. They weren't the only things but your books helped and I'm still here! I hope you don't mind that I wrote this. Aside from reading I guess it is inevitable that I also love writing, I can't not do it and I would like to share it. I'll only know if people want to share it too if I try to get it out there so I was wondering what your advice on getting an agent would be? It seems the best way would be personal recommendation but I don't know any authors. Anyway thanks again for the books, I'm glad you find such pleasure in what you do. Thankyou in advance for any advice and I hope I haven't taken up too much of your time.
Other Comments

  • I'm 21 now just finished my degree and off to see the world!
Diana's Reply

I'm glad you're still here and off to see the world, and if I had anything to do with this it makes me gladder still. About agents, do you write for adults, or children, or both? My agent only really handles children's writing, but if you let me know what you write, I could ask her to recommend you someone.


From Bob

  • How do you start writing? Do you just sit down and write, or do you make a lot of webs, character outlines, and drafts first?
Other Comments

  • Age: 11 Gender:F Ambition: to become a writer
Diana's Reply

Generally I just sit down and write, with a sketchy outline in my mind - which outline seldom survives as soon as the book gets going. Most of the preparation takes place in my head and I very seldom commit plans to paper. But there are exceptions. For instance, long before I wrote FIRE AND HEMLOCK - like six years - I was writing shorter and longer pieces that didn't seem to add up, except that I knew they would in the end. Most of these ended up as Polly's Tan Coul inventions. Three or four other books have started like this. It seems to depend on the book.


From Bonnie

  • What is the best way to start a book? Do you start with a conversation or a description. I usually start with a description but I find that when I do that I get into a dead end later on, having nowhere to go from there. Also, when I've read books by other people, I tend to not notice the descriptions, but just take it in. But, when I write descriptions they go very flowery and you lose interest. How can I stop this from happening?
Diana's Reply

The best way to start a book is the way you want to do it. Start with the bit that grabs you. But descriptions do make for a slow start. I suggest you write your description, if that is the way you want to start, and then go back over it and reduce it to two sentences at the most. There is a lot of this going back to it in writing. You never get away with writing a thing just once. And remember that people, and what they think and do, are the things that move a story along. Concentrate on your people.


From B Bishop

  • Dear Diana, well, after the Chrestomanci series I did go on to read your other books and I love them all! So whether or not you write another Chrestomanci book makes no difference to me anymore just keep writing! I especially liked Dogsbody, Howl's Moving Castle, Drowned Ammett. I am now down to the last two or so books you've written and am already in dread of the Wynne Jones withdrawal pains. You're the best! If you can stand a trivial question I'd like to know where you write. If it's a study what does it look like and what kind of things are in it. Thanks!
Diana's Reply

I start writing in the most comfortable chair I can find in the sitting room, in everybody's way. For the second draft I move to my study, which is very small and crowded with: one cat, trying to walk on my keyboard, about sixty pictures, hundreds of books, stacks of paper there's nowhere to put, two chairs, in hopes the cat will sit in the other one (she does in the end), and dozens of dragon-things because I love dragons. Oh, and the red stool I balance my coffee on. I have a red carpet, a red window-blind, a red cuboard, a red filing cabinet and a blue table.



From Joni Harbottle

  • Greetings, Ms. Jones! I am an advanced Creative Writer at an Arts School in Florida (U.S.A); A very good writer I am, But, I have a problem with certain story formats. I can Write in a narrative point of view, but never at an outside angle like you do. If you would be so kind as to give me some pointers and rules for how to write like this, I would be very honored to recieve you tips, for you are an outstanding, exellent writer and author! Lets keep this between us- personally, I think you are much better than J.K.Rowling. After all, her plot lines are so predictable; while your's are much more "one-of-a-kind" and interesting! Please send me a reply of some sort and once again, I'd be honored! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! Hope to hear from you soon, Your Loyal fan, Joni Harbottle- 13/F/FL
Other Comments
  • I am thirteen years of age. I Live in Florida, It is the peninsula state at the eastern corner of North America! I have read many of your books and I am a big fan!
Diana's Reply

I see and sympathise with your problem. I suspect you may be one of those writers who do brilliantly best when telling the story from INSIDE a character, and you really wouldn't want to change that (everyone has their own way of doing it and you really oughtn't to change the way you ARE). It puts you in there with Dostoevsky, the Brontes and other great writers. But I see you'd also want to learn all the skills there are. I can tell you that I learnt to write at an outside angle by reading and rereading Jane Austen - and from Dickens, too, a bit. I'd recommend you to study Austen. It is a skill one can only learn, not be taught.



From Hannah

  • Dear Diana I have been a fan of yours for about a year or so now, after I picked up Charmed Life by chance in a bookshop. I would just like to say that all your books are FANTASTIC and I really really love them. I've read almost all of them and my favourite is probably Fire and Hemlock because Tom is so likeable and, well, just plain nice. I think your books are WAY better than Harry Potter. Anyway, is Power of Three published in Harper Collins now because I haven't seen it anywhere. Also, could you give me some advice (pretty please) on writing fantasy, because my LIFELONG DREAM is to get published. Sorry this question is so long, and _please_ could you write some more books soon???
Other Comments

  • I am 13 years old, a sulky teenager whose life has been CHANGED by DWJ's books from wandering round in bookshops looking for decent fantasy books to an ardent collecter of her stuff.
Diana's Reply

Yes, POWER OF THREE is going to be republished later this year. I have done the proofs and have been discussing the illustrations, so I know it is really on the way. Writing fantasy - well, first don't ever even try to write something you are not violently interested in, and then start as near to the interesting part as you can. It helps if you can visualise (and hear and smell and touch in your mind) the most peculiar scene in your story, first, before you start writing; and then consider it and try to follow logically the reasons for its happening like that. The logic will lead you to the fantasy. This will be in places you never expected.

 

From Erica

  • Do you believe in describing the character's physical appearance right away or letting the story clues come together to form it's own mental image?
Other Comments

  • I am 12 years old and truly hope to become an author when I "grow up" I would really appreciate an answer to my question, because I am currently writing a short story. An English teacher told me that I shouldn't describe the physical characteristics right away and not out right. I'm not so sure I agree with her. I need some advice.
Diana's Reply

The fact is, everyone has their own way of writing, which they're happiest with. If you are happy describing, then do it. But I will say this on your teacher's behalf: descriptions tend to pass your reader by so that they don't remember them. Usually the best way to fix a person's appearance in your reader's mind is to SEE (and hear and even smell) the person to yourself so clearly that it will all come over to your reader without you having to decribe any of it. But PDJames, the detective story writer, evidently agrees with you. She likes to describe everyone in detail when they first appear - and she is, after all, a good and a famous writer. Perhaps you should mention this to your teacher.


From Jack Fotheringham

  • I was wondering how you first got into writing and if you could scan your signature and email it to me?
Other Comments
  • I a a ten year old and for christmas 2000 I got Fire and Hemlock and ever since i read it I have been hooked on your books. My friends think I am mad reading all these old books But they havent read any of your books From Jack
Diana's Reply

I'm sorry, I don't have a scanner, so I can't send you a signature. It was very difficult to get into writing. I was two years younger than you when I realised that was what I wanted to do, but I had to wait another 30 years until I had a book published.


From Karen Schwab

  • How on earth do you "do" your characters? There's something about many of your books that grips me in the first paragraph, and did the first time I picked up one of your books (Magicians of Caprona, about 20 years ago when I was 15). It seems to have to do with the characters and how their concerns are very ordinary. In other fantasy books a character only cares about Right and Truth and Justice but your characters seem capable of arguing about who gets the last brownie. What's your explanation or perspective on that? Thanks.
Diana's Reply

Well, I do like my characters to behave as ordinary people would - to the extent that I usually put in an actual, real person just to keep the rest honest - and as you point out, most people spend very little (if any) of their time thinking about Right and Truth and Justice (or only if their teacher seems to have been picking on them). And life for the most part is a mass of small ordinary acts, which, if you are lucky, does add up to something greater.


From Emily Manley

  • Hi Diana! I just want to say that I absolutly love all your books that I have read! I especialy love the chrestomanci series and would like to know if you are going to write any more? Oh I am writing a book too and you are the one who inspired me to, but it seems to be taking me a long time to finish the first chapter. How long did it take you to finish your book? Thanks a lot!!!!!!
Other Comments
  • I am 12 years old. love reading. Love all of your books! I go to Parrs wood high school in manchester and am in year 8. I love English but think that we should be able to do more work on books eg..reading in class and writing more stories!!!!!
Diana's Reply

The first book I ever finished writing was when I was about your age and it took most of a year. People at your stage of life never get enough time. These days I usually do a book in four to six months - but this is only usually. Some books took up to ten years. And I can't promise another Chrestomanci book, because I don't work by planning. I have to wait for a book to come up and hit me. If that one turns out to be a Chrestomanci book, then a lot of people will be happy, me included.


From Sarah R. Cattell

  • Ms.Jones, My question is how long does it nomally take you to write a book once you have gotten the idea and put pen to paper?
Other Comments
  • I absolutally love your Chrestomanci books. Granted I am only just about done the first volume, I have hardly been able to put down the book so I can get back to work, and to what else I need to do. I am 19 years old and work at Wal-Mart in Prince Frederick, Marlyland.
Diana's Reply

You asked a difficult question there. Sometimes a book will spring into my head in the middle of one afternoon and I will be writing away at it for the next six months, without any previous preparation at all. CHARMED LIFE was like this. But other books have a long, hard passage and can take up to ten years of thinking and refiguring. The odd thing is that no one knows which kind is which unless I tell them.

From Richard Starfield

  • Do you think that anyone can become an author if they really want to, or does it require a special talent you have to be born with (like magic in your books)?
Other Comments

  • I'm sixteen, and several times I've tried to start writing a book during a long holiday, but the plot often turns where I'm not expecting and then everything gets muddled... I have really enjoyed all of your books which I have read so far. The first one I read was The Lives of Christopher Chant, and I love the idea that somewhere there might be universes with magic in them... I've just read Power of Three - the next one I want to read is Deep Secret but I don't know if I'll be able to get it. I read a question on this page about time travel - my theory is that it may have occured/will occur/be occuring because if we discovered it now, would we rush off to medievil times and attempt to explain it to them? I think not - we'd probably say "leave them alone - they were happy the way they were" and anybody attempting to prove otherwise might "vanish"... In the Dalemark Quartet, does Drowned Ammet occur at a similar time to Cart and Cwidder? And is Tanaqui really Cennoreth? It seems to be hinted at throughout the book but its never said directly, although The Weaver does call Mage Mallard 'Duck' at some point, doesn't she? I think Hexwood is one of the best books I've ever read. Please keep writing, and thanks so much for answering the questions of the populace. Richard.
Diana's Reply

Anyone can be an author, of course, but it takes determination, because you have to teach yourself how to do it. Nobody else can really do it for you. It took me ten years, but I am slow to learn. I've just heard that DEEP SECRET is out of print in the British edition. get a bookshop to order you an American paperback. Yes, I agree. Time travel/crossworld travel may well be happening to us now, but they are not letting us know. There are quite a number of good sf books about this - nice one by Robert Silverberg for starters. And several by Andre Norton. DROWNED AMMET and CART AND CWIDDER overlap. CART AND CWIDDER happens in the early summer - the same gale is mentioned in each - but DROWNED AMMET starts years earlier and goes on into the autumn following the closing of Flennpass. Tanaqui is indeed Cennoreth.


Fanfiction

From Michela Ecks

  • Hello, My name is Michela Ecks. I am working on a paper for an english class at Northern Illinois University on fan fiction and copyright. For this paper I was hoping I could have some information from one of my favorite authors whom there is little to know information on this topic on the net. I was also hoping that I could have permission to post that information to my web site at http://writersu.s5.com/ and in particular to the page at http://writersu.s5.com/law/policy.html though I only really need the information for my paper. At any rate, if you have the time, I would be very happy if you could answer the following questions pertaining to fan fiction and copyright in regards to your own work for me: 1. Do you have a set policy regarding fan fiction derived from your stories? 2. If you have such a policy, what is it and why did you implement it? 3. If you have such a policy, is this a policy that you created yourself or was it created at an agent or lawyer's behest? (Which is the case with Katherine Kurtz, and Mercedes Lackey...) 4. If you allow fan fiction derived from your work, why? (Terry Pratchett was quoted some where as saying that it creates good will among fans. J.K. Rowlings said somewhere she found it flattering.) 5. What are you general feelings on fan fiction? Do these feelings differ when it is fan fiction based say on books versus television? Thank you for taking the time to read this note :o) Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Diana's Reply

My attitude to all information is that, once it is out in the public domain, then it is there for anyone to use. By all means post what information you want, where you want, but DO make sure it's accurate. Chinese Whispers sort of things can happen so easily. In answer to your other questions: 1. If I objected to fan fiction (or any other kind) derived from my stories, I'd be going mad by now. For instance, Neil Gaiman tells me - as if I needed telling - that he derived AMERICAN GODS from my EIGHT DAYS OF LUKE. I was pretty pleased. 2. I just say 'Feel free'. it would happen even if i didn't. 3. Heavens! Do some people use lawyers for this? The creeps get in everywhere. 4. Terry Pratchett, as always, speaks sound sense. 5. My opinion varies with the quality of what is written. Some is OUCH!!! Some is 'I wish I had thought of that!'


From Anna Beyer

  • I was wondering if you mind others writing fanfiction on your books and posting them online (at a place such as fanfiction.net). Most writer whose books are the center of fanfic there dont mind, but some sections have been deleted recently at the request of the author. Also, I was wondering exactlly how big an event must be to split a world. Does it need to be a war or something on that scale, or do small things such as whether or not to press the snooze button create more worlds. I ask because I wonder how it can be decided if events are large enough to create a split. In Chrestomanci's world, are females treated as equals of males, or are they stuck in the dark ages in that sense?? Are females just as likely to become powerfully magical as males, or is that rather rare? :) I hope i havent bored you have to death with my questions. I think your a marvelous writer, and I can't wait till your next book comes out!!!
Other Comments

  • I am 13 and I live in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, in the US. I can daydream new stories for days on end just by reading a chapter of one of your stories. No other writer has this efect on me, and I hope you keep writing for many years to come.
Diana's Reply

I have no objection at all to people writing and posting fanfiction based on my books. Once a book is published, it is for everyone to do what they want with. I simply can't see why anyone would want fanfiction withdrawn. Must have been some special case there. Interesting question, how big an event would have to be to split a world. The large events like battles and meteor strikes are obvious, but after that you are into chaos theory. I've been fascinated by this ever since I read Asimov and his notion of the minimum necessary change. One of his is the simple shifting of a shortly-to-be-needed cannister to a shelf where it won't be found - rather on the lines of 'For want of a nail the battle was lost...' You can think of all sorts of these. But there could be others - like butterflies in Brazil - or a tree root growing across a certain path - or a piece of paper accidentally shredded - or someone's baby crying all night so they were not their best the next day - or.. Well, I'm sure you can go on. Usually I find it easier to deal with the larger events, like Napoleon winning the battle of Waterloo (which he damn near did), causing all the aristocrats swanning around in Belgium to flee to India, thus making the world of curry and treacle pudding that Chrestomanci remarks on.


Fire and Hemlock

From Marie Denley

  • In preparing a recent lecture on Fire and Hemlock for my Children's Fantasy Literature course, I looked closely at names, titles etc. and their sources. (Well, I am a medievalist trained partly by your husband, whom I admire just as much as I admire you, so you can expect that kind of minute pedantry!) (1) The 'heroic' titles: is 'Tan' anything to do with the Welsh for 'Fire', as a sort of honorific - 'the fiery one'? (2) Does 'Coul' have any relation to Finn Mac Cool, as a prominent Celtic hero? (3) I'm stumped about the origins of the other heroic names of the Dumas Quartet members. Are they out of your head? (4) I'm also stumped with 'Obah Cypt'. I keep wanting it to be either an anagram, or related to some other form of wordplay/word-and-idea associative pattern, devices you use prominently in the book (e.g. with the permutations of Nowhere, or with the poisonous-plant female names, Ivy and Laurel). I've always been hopeless at anagrams in crosswords.However, my students weren't able to spot anything so I feel slightly less obtuse. I have read around quite a lot to try to solve these; I apologise if I've missed an obvious source. Perhaps I shouldn't be nit-picking like this, but Fire and Hemlock is such a patterned book that you offer the temptation.(For example, I assumed that Hunsdon House was the eighties version of Huntly Bank from the ballad.) Writing that lecture was probably the most enjoyable experience of my career. Thank you for writing a superbly rewarding novel, and for being willing to answer questions.
Diana's Reply

How nice that you were trained by John. Ok, answers: 1. Like most things in FIRE AND HEMLOCK 'Tan' has a double source. It is partly the Welsh word for fire, but it is also an adaptation of the medieval 'Dan' as in 'Dan Chaucer'. 2. 'Coul' does probably reflect Finn Mac Cool, but it also is 'cool!' in the way kids use it. I think there are other origins in there, but I'm not sure what. 3. The other names of the quartet are indeed out of my head, but I usually find there is some good reason for names, like reflecting 'Hannibal' and 'audacity'. 'Thare' defeats me too, though. 4. the Obah Cypt first occurred to me in a totally different piece of writing which will probably always remain as a five-finger exercise, though it gave certain things to the stories the quartet wrote. 'Obah' is an adaptation of 'Obeah', the West Indian form of (black, quite often) magic. 'Cypt' is a sort of anagram of 'ptyx' which seems to be a sort of holy vessel or container in use on Christian altars. So the whole thing means 'a container for dark magic'. 5. Yes, but 'Hunsdon House' is also a very formal country dance.


From Rachel

  • I absolutely love all your books. It's been particularly interesting to reread now what I read first years ago and see how it's changed (Norse gods--who knew!) Anyway, I have a few questions. In Archer's Goon, where in the book is it proved that "pig's fly, making them hard to catch." I get all the others, but I just can't find any pigs. Also, what are the references in Laurel, Morton, and Sebastian Leroy's names? The only one I got was 'Lorelei.' Plus one little thing that is probably irrelevent: I've never been able to figure out whether the other members of the 'family' in Fire and Hemlock, the ones at the funeral, etc., are immortal as well. Since I'm a little obsessed with Fire and Hemlock, I spend a lot of my time musing about this and researching Tam Lin. Well, that's the end of my ramblings. Thanks!
Other Comments
  • I'm a sixteen year old who lives in children's book stores and endures odd looks from the sensible adults who step over her.
Diana's Reply

The reference to pigs in ARCHER'S GOON is to Dillian and her disappearing house. Dillian farms the police and police are often (particularly in America, but here too sometimes) called pigs. 'Leroy' means 'the King' and Laurel and Morton are, in some sense, queen and king of faerie. Laurel has 'Lorelei' in there, but laurel also symbolises triumph and long (or even everlasting) life. It's only one of the names she takes over the centuries. Sebastian was the saint who was shot full of arrows. If you look at things from his point of view, he had a lot to bear. 'Morton' is a name that glances at 'mort' - death. Yes, the others at the funeral are mostly immortal too. One of them is Robin Goodfellow - ie Puck. I hope the sensible adults don't kick you as they step over.


From Libby

  • (Must start off with flattery...) I've just been reading the answers to the questions from March 2001, and I've noticed several times that you've mentioned things about your books coming true. Well, people always say "write what you know..." and I noticed that you gave Tom Lynn that gift in Fire and Hemlock. This wasn't a coincidence, was it? I loved F&H although it was so different from most of your other things -- took place in the "real" world (although we all know that it isn't the only one). Funniest thing happened -- I felt just like POlly -- I'd read the book last year, forgotten the title, and hadn't realized it until I started reading... So, was that jinx a coincidence, and will you be writing another part in the Chrestomanci series or the Dark Lord of Derkholm/Year of the Griffin series? S'il vous plait? Also -- who was the Chrestomanci in the Magicians of Caprona? Is TOUGH GUIDE TO FANTASYLAND available in the US? I haven't been able to find a copy. Thanks for listening to this loooong ramble! Thank you THANK YOU THANK YOU!! for writing such wonderful books.... don't ever stop. Know of a gateway to any related worlds in the Midwest US?
Diana's Reply

There are gateways all over, to go backwards through your message. The Tough Guide certainly IS available in the US. Ask a bookstore to order you a copy from Daw Books. The Chrestomanci was the same one in all the books - except for THE LIVES OF CHRISTOPHER CHANT, where that was Gabriel de Witt. And I can't tell you what I'll be writing next because I don't know myself usually until I start. And no, it was no coincidence about the things coming true in FIRE AND HEMLOCK. I was hoping to lay the jinx by this, but no chance. They still happen at me.

From jenni

  • about the book fire and hemlock, who is that woman Laurel suppose to be, like what kind of a moster is she and did she die?? what happened to the people after the car(horse) knocked into the rose bushes? what does the fire and hemlock picture signify? how did they overcome polly's charm
Diana's Reply

Laurel is the dreaded (and loved) immortal goddess who likes to carry off young men. She doesn't die. She has to take someone else's life to keep on living. The other people disappeared at the end when the car knocked over the rose bushes because they were immortals too and they were, for the moment, defeated. The fire and hemlock picture is the the thing called an Obah Cypt which was really a spell to enslave Mr Lynn's soul. Polly's charm was only a weak little opal. Strong magic can suck a thing like that dry in seconds.


Howl's Moving Castle / Castle in the Air

From Mashael Zaidi

  • Hi! I absolutely love Howl's Moving Castle (so much that when I first read it 4 years ago from the library, I wanted it so bad so that I could reread it that I typed it up on my computer...everyone thought I was crazy) and I wanted to know more about (I know you haven't written the sequel for it yet but you might have some ideas) life with Sophie, Howl, and Morgan, as well as what Lettie and Wizard Suliman's child's name is(is it a girl or a boy?). Basically, I wanted to know if you had any ideas for what they would be like in the future, names, traits, anything at all:) I already read that Morgan would have his parents worst traits, which is the most perfectly lovable and hilarious idea:)
Other Comments
  • I'm an almost 18 year old about to head off to university and I've cherished your characters from Howl's Moving Castle since I was 14. I also have a special affection for Poly and Thomas, as well as everyone from Castle in the Air.
Diana's Reply

I am IMPRESSED. You typed the whole book? You must know it almost as well as I do - in fact I know you do because you realise that Morgan would grow up with Sophie's faults as well as Howl's. I think Lettie's baby was a girl, wasn't it? When the book does get written I think some of the other kids in it will be the children of the two fat nieces and Dalzel. But I don't know more than that yet.


From Angela Nguyen

  • Hi! how are you? Well ive read your book called castle in the air and i'm doing a book report on that book and i would just like to know more infomation about. Anything will do just a bit more infomation will do. thank you. Angela
Other Comments
  • Well i just want to say i really enjoy reading your books. bye
Diana's Reply

I think all you need to know is either in the book or on the website.


From Katie

  • Is there any chance of another book with Howl and Sophie? (Howl's Moving Castle is my favourite)
Other Comments
  • I hope you do write another book with Howl and Sophie.
Diana's Reply

I keep wanting to do another book about Howl, but it so far won't come to me.


From Margaret

  • My favorite book of yours is Howl's Moving Castle. I've loved it for years and years. I have read the sequel to it and was wondering if you plan on writing another.
Other Comments
  • I'm 19 and am attending school in California. I am a music and technical theatre major. My mother is a librarian so you can imagine how early I started devouring books.
Diana's Reply

Yes, I would like to do another book about the moving castle, but, even though I know a lot of things that would be in it, the book has not yet shown itself ready to be written. It's something I keep in mind though. (I may say I have tried to do this book five times, and it still isn't ready).


From Aifric Ní Ruairc

  • Dear Diana, I would really love for you to write another book about Sophie and Howl. They are so interesting and I want to know more about them. I loved Howls's Moving Castle and Castle In The Air. Any chance of another?
Other Comments

  • I am 11 years old. I love reading but your books are my favourite. I think that even J.K. Rowling robs your i
Diana's Reply

I would really love to write another book about Sophie and Howl, but it doesn't happen that easily. I would love to have Morgan in it when he is older and also the kids of the two fat nieces (who I know were born with tiny useless wings and rather long teeth) but books don't come to me because I plan them. They happen at me, and so far a new book about Sophie and Howl hasn't happened.


From Aaron Casto

  • I was wondering how you came to make the story of Howls Moving Castle?
Other Comments

  • I am 13 and have read Howls Moving Castle 4 times.
Diana's Reply

I made the story of HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE because I visited a school where a boy of almost exactly your age asked me if I'd ever written a book about a moving castle. That turned out to be the spark that set the book going.


From Hong

  • I love how you twisted the Fairy Tale formula in "Howl's Moving Castle", especially the stepmother and "eldest of three" aspect. I'm someone who loves fairy tales but at the same time, enjoys making parodies of them and I wondered if you felt the same way. And will we see Michael or Martha again soon? And definitely, where can I get a Howl of my own?
Other Comments
  • Sophie and Howl are my current favorite couple, which I find surpisingly because not until the very end was there even a hint of romance. Not even romance novels have given me a couple as satisfying as those two are. I simply adore them, on their own and together.
Diana's Reply

You'll have to join a very long line to get a Howl of your own, unless you happen to run into him before the rest of us! The line now stretches all the way round the world.
Yes, I do like incorporating fairy tales into my books - and not usually twisting them, more adapting them to the present day - because they are the kind of tale that says more about life and people than any other. And, as I have written to other people on this page, nothing seems to make a new book about Howl and the others GO anywhere yet, although I have made several tries. Books will never be forced.


On Harry Potter

From Elizabeth Brown

  • Dear Diana, I'm a new reader of your books and I was wondering if you were a little upset about the Harry Potter boom and some of the "adaptations" JK Rowling made from your books?
Other Comments

  • 19 and wishing the bookshops had more of your stuff
Diana's Reply

Yes, I was a little upset, because that amount of borrowing merits some kind of acknowledgement at least. I just don't know how deliberate the plagiarism was. And I got very tired of scandal-seeking pressmen asking what my feelings were. I usually gave them a smoooth answer about how good it was for the genre and was always pleased when they said 'You're no fun!' and went away.


From nadine

  • i just have to say, i think your books are amazing, and i think you are one of the most underrated childrens author! but what do you think of the harry potter series by j.k. rowling?
Diana's Reply

Thank you. I enjoyed the Harry Potter books, but I did find some parts of them strangely familiar.


From Alisha

  • Witch book was published first, "Charmed Life" or JK Rowlings Harry Potter books. There are alot of same things in the books. Your books are great!
Other Comments

  • Im 14 years old, and I love to read alot of different kinds of books!
Diana's Reply

My books were published 25 - 20 years before the Harry Potter books. My guess is that JK Rowling read them when she was your age. I think she must have liked them.


From Emmanuel

  • First, I want to thank Diana for her answer to my preceeding question, on the possible inspiration by J.K. Rowling on her own writings. Speaking with friends about this possibility, I learned today that a writer called Nancy Stouffer is filing a lawsuit against J.K. Rowling for copying her book "The Legend of Rah and the Muggles", featuring a young hero called Larry Potter and published in 1984. An article on this matter has been published in "Le Voir" a newspaper from Quebec in Canada. So I just want to pass this piece of information to Diana for her reference.
Diana's Reply

Thank you. I had heard about Nancy Stouffer actually. The fact that she was not Rowling's only source adds to my feeling that she sopped up these things unconsciously when she was young. Did you know - this is something similar - that Beatrix Potter lived as a child near a big London cemetary where the graves are, to this day, labelled Peter Rabbett and Jeremiah Fisher, both people who died before BP was born? What I mean is that things stick in your head when you're young and you don't always know where you got them from.


From Sara Krasner

  • I absolutely love Diana's Chrestomanci series! But I also love the Harry Potter books. Does Diana Wynne Jones ever feel uncomfortable having a little "competition"? Even if she does, I still think her books are wonderful.
Other Comments

  • I'm 13 and I really appreciate Diana's work. I hope she keeps on writing. She brightens the imaginations of her readers. Her books are definetly on my favorite books list!
Diana's Reply

'Competition' isn't really a problem to most writers. Most of the time you're delighted that someone has liked your books enough to do something similar - for instance the current best-selling fantasy in America was inspired by my book EIGHT DAYS OF LUKE and the writer sent it to me before it was published to see what I thought. And I told him FANTASTIC! And look at it this way: most books are only several hundred pages long and people can't keep rereading them too often, so they will naturally then want to read another book quite like it. So nobody loses.


From Lisa Jo Rudy

  • Dear Diana, I discovered your books as a grown up -- introduced by an editor who was helping me along with my own YA novels. I believe the first book I read was Witch Week -- and I found it to be one of the most original and intriguing works of fantasy I had ever read. I'm reading my way through your entire booklist now. Yet somehow, even with an interest in YA fantasy and SF, no one had ever sung your praises to me! Knowing all that -- I have to ask you how you feel about the extraordinary reactions folks are having to Harry Potter. I had one friend of my parents tell me how marvelous it was that someone had come up with the idea of writing about a school for wizards... and how wonderful to read about MAGIC of all things! I mean -- they're great fun, well written -- but Rowling seems to be getting credit for inventing the fantasy genre! Thanks so much for your thoughts.
Other Comments

  • Would you be willing to read and/or comment on unpublished sf/fantasy? I know this is probably an outrageous imposition but hey -- it can't hurt to ask!
Diana's Reply

Best wishes for your YA novels. And, yes, I don't think I can be the only writer of YA fantasy who gets irritated that most adults seem to think Rowling invented the genre. You do wonder what all these ignorant people were reading when they were young.


From Shaun

  • Hi Diana, I don't mean to be irritating, just curious. My question is: between your own books and JK Rowling's Harry Potter books, whose would you prefer to read and why? Have you read all of the HP books? Do they fascinate you?
Other Comments

  • I'm 22 this year
Diana's Reply

Well, actually, I'd always rather read a book by someone else. I know too well what's coming next in my own books. This problem, unfortunately, arises with the Harry Potter books too. I hope I never end up on a desert island with only the choice you gave me!


From Cody Kinker

  • What do you think of the Harry Potter series? Are you going to write a sequel to your book Witch Week? (thats my favorite book you have written) Also do you write the anwers yourself?
Other Comments
  • 13years old male
Diana's Reply

I do write the answers myself. No one else knows what the answers should be. When you ask about a sequel to WITCH WEEK, do you mean something that isn't the other books about the enchanter Chrestomanci? The problem with WITCH WEEK is that by the end of that book the world that it happens in is destroyed, melted back into our own world, and it would be hard to do a sequel from here.


Dark Lord of Derkholm / Year of the Griffin / Tough Guide

From Paul Andinach

  • I've been rereading 'The Dark Lord of Derkholm' recently, and some of the character names have been bothering me; I keep getting the feeling that there's some trick to the pronunciation. Is "Derk" pronounced to rhyme with "irk" or "ark"? Is there some trick to Mr Chesney's name, or is it pronounced the way it's spelled? Are there any other character names (in any of your books) with tricky pronunciations we should know about?
Other Comments

  • I'm 20 years old, and I live in Australia. I've been a Diana Wynne Jones fan for years and years and years. I think the world would be a dimmer and less interesting place without any Diana Wynne Jones books in it. Thank you very much, Diana.
Diana's Reply

'Derk' is pronounced 'urk'. I think it is that world's form of Derek, but I wanted it to be like a knife-name, like Blade. And, well, Chesney COULD be pronounced to rhyme with Disney - I certainly had that in mind. But don't tell any lawyers. Thank you for enjoying my books. You have no idea how encouraging it is when someone tells me that.


From Liz

  • I just finished reading The Year of the Griffin and was wondering if there are going to be any more books about Derkholm.
Diana's Reply

There will be more books about Derkholm because I have sworn so to my sister, but I'm afraid I won't be able to start on one until next year at least.


From moira

  • do plan on writing any more books that are set in the world of year of the griffin and dark lord of derkholm... i really enjoyed them and would love to see more
Diana's Reply

yes, I swear, I have sworn, I love writing about griffins.


From Rose

  • When will you make the sequel to Year Of The Griffen?
Other Comments

  • I love your books andI love to read. I hope you keep up the hard work.
Diana's Reply

I am not sure when I will do the sequel to YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN. I am still thinking about what will be in it.


From Hannah

  • Hi my name's Hannah and I'm sorry if someone's already asked this but I couldn't find it anywhere. But, is there a sequel to Year of a Griffin? I bought it last week and I'd finished it the same day. It was absolutely brilliant and I read it again the following day, but I desperately need more of the same!!!! Is there a sequel? If there isn't, please please please can you write another? Write a whole series. Twenty if not more!!!! And make Kit and Elda the main characters!!! Please!!!! I first read the Skiver's guide when I found it a jumble sale and I was hooked. I didn't manage to find anymore of your books until I found a section in my local bookshop saying "if you liked Harry..you'll love this" and they had all your Chrestomanci series. Ever since, I've have been begging, cajoling and threatening my friends with death (not really) to read your books. I really love the world you've created with Dark lord of Derkholm and all that's keeping me going through my AS-levels is that someday you will write a third instalment if one doesn't already exist!!! A little bit of emotional blackmail will do my cause no end of harm but I want to say that you are a brilliant and humane writer and I think your books deserve to be as widely known as HP as they are just as good if not better. So I say it again! Please please please please please write more books about Derk's world, I know it's not up to me and I can't force you but I'm still going to try! Thanks for all you've written, Hannah (o:
Other Comments

  • I'm 16 and I live in London. I am an AS-level student and I don't know whether to study Chemistry or English at university, Arg! (o: I love reading I miss it so much, now that I have so litle time. Thanks for many hours of pleasure in the school library and at home when I've been reading your books.
Diana's Reply

My sister feels the same way as you do about YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN and has made me swear a solemn oath that I will write more about griffins in Derk's world. So, you see I have to write it eventually. I am as sorry as you are that it isn't NOW. I have been terribly busy these last two years with other things, and then I was ill, so nothing has been written at all lately. Do not despair though. I love writing about Kit and Elda and almost can't wait. Best of luck in your AS-levels.

 

From Justin

  • I'm currently reading the Derkholm books and went back to read the Tough Guide as prep (Loved the mention of "Gna'ash" in Dark Lord of Derkholm :)! ) and realized the map is Europe upside down. Then I further realized that the placenames, for the most part, are anagrams of real places (Caysib=Biscay; Rowany=Norway) and was wondering if that was intentional? If so, what does "Nuneaton" represent? Also, will Harper keep the books in constant print? I've been picking them up as I find them, but stores have been having a difficult time ordering them.
Other Comments

  • Charmed Life was actually the first fantasy I ever read, followed by the other three Chrestomanci books. Now, at 17, I've read all the big authors, including all the works of yours I can find in the Seattle area. Thanks for getting me into this wonderful genre!
Diana's Reply

The map of Europe upside down in the TOUGH GUIDE was the idea of my agent's daughter (who is also my goddaughter) when she was about 14. We thought it was brilliant of her. Then my agent and I had a wonderful day's fun filling in names, a lot of them, as you realised, normal names backwards, and some just made up, like The Scrots. But my agent said one of the things that always annoyed and amused her was the way one or two names on the maps were always names of improbably ordinary towns - like Nuneaton. So we put in Nuneaton, though it could easily have been Bognor Regis or Hartlepool or Devizes. I hope Harper will keep the books in print. But you never know with publishers. At the moment they are reissuing most of them, so I hope your bookshop will be able to get hold of them. The ordering of books is ridiculously difficult. I have had a book on order from the States for four months now and there's still no sign of it.

 



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