[personal profile] imagines
[unlocked, in case you feel like reccing her work with it]

I'm not sure how to say this without it sounding very blunt: you've probably heard, if you read fantasy novels, but Diana Wynne Jones died yesterday.

Neil Gaiman wrote a lovely post about DWJ. I never noticed that Hexwood (one of my favorites) was dedicated to Gaiman. Bless. I also love that she and Gaiman have approximately the same hair in that photo. More bless.

The post got me thinking. (As well as crying. When people who have touched me have to leave forever, I cry.) I don't know if I have as much to say as he does, or if what I can say is as meaningful, but I wanted to say it.

It's because of [livejournal.com profile] kohl_eyed that I started reading DWJ's books (for which I will be forever grateful), and it's DWJ's fault that I admitted I love sci-fi, and also DWJ's fault that I learned you CAN mix witches and spacecraft and have it be amazing. DWJ is firmly on the list of authors who made me say, "Wait, you're allowed to do that?!" I believe that if you're a writer, it is absolutely necessary to realize you are allowed to write any and all stories that want to be told. If that's witches and spacecraft, then god damn, you go for it.

DWJ, along with Madeleine L'Engle (who is sadly also not here anymore), also taught me that women can be badass authors and badass protagonists. These two fantastic women wrote about girls who--yes--fell in love with boys, but A Wrinkle in Time and Howl's Moving Castle are not only about romance, because other things matter to these protagonists. Like having incredible adventures. And saving your family. And saving yourself. And believing in magic. And learning about the universe. And turning the average everyday fairytale on its head.

I'm fairly certain that my first brush with DWJ was through the movie Howl's Moving Castle. I loved and still love that movie, and when I realized that it was actually a book, I'm sure I threw my hands up in glee. So I read the book, and it was delightful.

Others of her books that I highly recommend are as follows:

• If you'd like to start with a taste of short stories (although it's more of a meal, at ~500 pages), there's her anthology called Unexpected Magic.

• If you're intrigued by the idea of witches and spacecraft, then A Sudden Wild Magic is for you. It's been a few years since I read it, but I seem to recall trying to decide if I liked ASWM or HMC better, and I was having serious trouble deciding.

• If you'd prefer something a little more serious, she wrote The Time of the Ghost, which I have a hard time describing without utterly spoiling. But here's an attempt: it is about memory loss, time travel, death, domestic violence, solving mysteries, identity, and (despite the ghostly protagonist) real life. I remember it also made me laugh a lot, which is quite a trick when handling the issues I listed, but DWJ was magic and could do that.

• The Homeward Bounders is NOT to be confused with Homeward Bound, for the record. The latter is about two dogs and a cat, and I liked it only when I was six or so. The former is about Them, who are playing a game with human lives. It is also about a boy named Jamie, who just wants to go home but is trapped playing his own (quite dangerous) game of choice and chance.

• Hexwood will hurt your brain. Badly. But if you love mixed-up timelines, non-linear narratives, and people actually being other people EXCEPT WHEN THEY'RE NOT--which I do--then this book is for you. You will lose track of what's going on. You're supposed to. DWJ wants you to. By the end of it, I felt I was entirely at her mercy, which was when she hit me over the head with the ending.

I have not read the Chrestomanci series, for which [livejournal.com profile] kohl_eyed might kill me in my sleep, but I hope to remedy this someday soon. I hear they are crazy good.

All of the above is to say that if you haven't read DWJ's books--or if you've only read a few (as I have)--then you should assuredly, definitely, without an inkling of a doubt, read them. Even if you don't like fantasy, because I don't think she was capable of writing "normal" fantasy. Even if you don't like sci-fi, because at one time, neither did I, and I still thought A Sudden Wild Magic was totally fabulous. Even if you've never heard of her, because no, she's not as famous as Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams and so many other boys, but she damn well should be.

Date: 2011-03-27 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaberett.livejournal.com
Deep Secret and The Merlin Conspiracy, them both. I was so hoping for more in that series. :-(

I only started reading her work seriously - other than HMC - around December time. I am sad to have lost her already.

There's a lovely posting mentioning Deep Secret here, and Raven then wrote Deep Secret fic, too.

Date: 2011-03-27 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aeromachia.livejournal.com
Hexwood is the best of things and more or less responsible for the fact that I write these days.

One of her sons is a family friend and I signed my mum's letter of condolence today. It's weird seeing the notices all round the internet. I never met her but by all accounts she was a wonderful lady :(

Date: 2011-03-27 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] candidlily.livejournal.com
Thank you for the recs! I went ahead and bought a copy of A Sudden Wild Magic, and added a couple of the others to my wishlist for later. I really love the genre of sci-fi/fantasy, and it seems I've been missing out!

Date: 2011-03-27 11:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sleepherealone.livejournal.com
Did you ever read any of Madeleine L'Engle's non-fantasy books? The ones about Vicky Austin and her family are still some of my favorite books ever.

Date: 2011-03-28 01:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kohl-eyed.livejournal.com
I. I might kill you in your sleep re: Chrestomanci, but I don't think I have the high moral ground here, seeing as I've never read Hexwood or The Homeward Bounders.

This was a fab post.

Date: 2011-03-28 01:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kateanguapotter.livejournal.com
I'm so jealous of you, I wish I had never read the Chrestomanci books and had them to look forward to. I am distraught by this news, even though it was not a surprise. DWJ was the undisputed high empress of fantasy and I am desperately sad that I have nearly read all of her work, only a couple of books to go. :o(

Personally, when I heard she was ill I wrote her a letter letting her know what she and her writing meant to me, and how it got me through some tough times. By then she was too ill to reply, but I hope it (and a flood of similar letters) helped her through.
Edited Date: 2011-03-28 01:10 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-03-28 01:19 am (UTC)
kuiskata: (Read)
From: [personal profile] kuiskata
This news? Was devastating when I found out yesterday. Diana Wynne Jones is such an amazing figure in fantasy. I bought a box set of thr first four Chrestomanci books ages ago, and kept reading her, though I admit I still have quite a number of her books to read. (Actually, I'm positive I've had Hexwood sitting on my shelf for years, though I have yet to read it. *hides*)

I've always been personally quite fond of A Tale of Time City, btw, though I never seem to meet people who've so much as heard of it...

Date: 2011-03-28 03:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] not-hathor.livejournal.com
Oh, this is so sad to hear! Especially since I've been sitting here this morning regretting that I never knew one of our late elders (buried him last week) liked to read and even WROTE science fiction as a hobby; I would have loved to talk to Lou about science fiction, what he liked to read, and to read what he wrote.

And now DWJ....oddyssia introduced me to Diane Wynne Jones' fiction many years ago, with "DOGSBODY", "FIRE & HEMLOCK", and "WITCH WEEK". Later I looked for more, including the rest of the Chrestomanci series, "Howl's Moving Castle", "Seven Days of Luke", "Archer's Goon", and "Deep Magic". I was always a little irritated that JK Rowling receieved so much praise for inventing a 'magical Britain' when Diane did it earlier, and in my opinion, better. I was so glad when "Howl's Moving Castle" was animated by Studio Ghibli, and more so that Disney gave it a greater distribution, because then suddenly Diane Wynne Jones' books were back in print, and more widely available, especially on this side of the Pond.

I am really sad about this. She was one of the best!

Date: 2011-03-28 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] not-hathor.livejournal.com
Sorry, that should be 'Eight Days of Luke'.

Date: 2011-04-02 05:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaizoku.livejournal.com
Aw, just heard about Diana Wynne Jones. I found her books when I was a wee grade school student haunting the W-Z shelves of the library (and rest of the shelves, but I've always had a soft spot for my fellow end-of-the-alphabetters).

Thanks for this post. There's quite a few of her books I haven't read yet. I loved the Dalemark Quartet, but it's such a long time since I read them I can't give specifics. Dogsbody is one of those books I reread every couple of years and it breaks my heart in a good way every time. I wrote a "fix-it" for it as a Yuletide treat a few years ago. Fire & Hemlock is my favorite - it's so twisty and non-linear and mythic.

Her books have moved, comforted, inspired and entertained me for a long time and I feel quite lucky that I have more to read.



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