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Diana talks about the animé film of Howl's Moving Castle

and about Chrestomanci and dressing gowns,
The True State of Affairs
and her characters she hates

Diana at the microphone, photo courtesy of Tom Catchesides

Studio Ghibli's Japanese animé film of Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) had its official British premier during the Cambridge Film Festival in July 2005. Filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki himself had previously come to Britain to give Diana a private showing in December 2004.

As part of the Cambridge Film Festival Diana introduced the film and afterwards answered questions from the audience. Some of her comments are similar to those she gave in an interview which features on the DVD of the film.

First, she said that the film was "the most exciting film I've seen for a long time. I was rivetted, and it bears seeing again.

"Miyazaki and I think alike, so when his offer came in I was overjoyed, because I had admired him for years."

On the differences between the book and the film, Diana made the point which is familiar to everyone who has seen several Miyazaki films: "He has to have flying machines!"

Diana signing books in Borders bookshop, Cambridge
standing on the right is Stella Paskins, Diana's editor at HarperCollins
photo courtesy Chris Cowan

She added: "My vision of the inside of the castle if like the inside of a chimney – long and thin and black. Miyazaki obviously likes more detail!

"The characters are the same as I wrote them, but other things are different. Making something visual is so different from making something to read. It takes more time to make something that you see, so he had to cut things out.

"Howl is less of a drama queen in the film, and more of a hero. It didn't spoil the essence of Howl. He is glamorous to many people. Only weeks after Howl was published I had a letter from a girl reading: 'My friend wants to know if Howl is a real person and if so she wants to marry him!'

"There is probably a bit of a biographical element in Howl's Moving Castle since there are three sisters, and I'm the eldest, too, like Sophie!"

Diana's other comments included: "Sophie shows how it pays to be a bully, which is what Sophie learns to be."

Diana signing books in Borders bookshop, Cambridge, with, on the left, website editor Meredith. Photo courtesy Chris Cowan

A member of the audience asked if there would be any new Chrestomanci books. Not only will the next books, The Pinhoe Egg, feature Chrestomanci, Cat and dressing gowns, but Diana added the news that Chrestomanci has a whole room devoted to dressing gowns. "He has one dressing gown for every day including leap years and emergencies."

On the puzzling long short story The True State of Affairs, Diana confirmed many readers' belief that is is set in Dalemark, "but a different time, earlier times, more like Tudor times, back about 200 years of so from the Dalemark I usually write about."

And characters she hates? "Black Maria, Al in Drowned Ammet, and Gwendolyn in Charmed Life. She's a horrid girl. If I really hate someone I make them into a baddie in a book!"

The Oscar-nominated Howl's Moving Castle set a Japanese box office record and went straight to the top of the Japanese film charts upon its release on 20th November 2004. The film has won an award (for Technical Achievement at the 2004 Venice Film Festival).

The DVD includes an interview with Diana which begins with her welcoming the film crew to her home. She says she was "overwhelmed" by the film, mentions some of her favourite bits from the film, talks about the origin of Sophie back in 1984, and gives away what the story of Howl really is. Her message to all viewers is, "Enjoy!"

Poster photo by Christine Chang

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