Once I get going on a topic, there is not stopping me. I was happy to find that there is a new book featuring talks and essays by Diana Wynne Jones, all of which she chose herself during the last months of her life.
It’s a bit like when I read obituaries of people I might have heard of, but knew little about. They sound so interesting that I am furious they had to die before I found out. I’m beginning to favour living obituaries, heaping praise on someone while they are there to enjoy it.
I did know Diana was special, because everyone said so. I just procrastinated. So not only am I rather belatedly setting off on a DWJ-readathon, but I have these marvellous little pieces as well.
Because I wanted to bring Reflections to your attention, and because I want to slowly savour her reflections on the magic of writing, I haven’t yet read every single piece. I am dipping into the book, little by little. And I’ve only now realised I didn’t start where my adviser suggested, with ‘Why don’t you write real books?’
But then, I am quite happy with where I did start. And also with where I went after that.
Neil Gaiman was a fan. Obviously. Diana was very much a writer’s writer, which is why so many admired her so much. Neil has written the foreword to Reflections, while Charlie Butler – another DWJ fan – reflects on this collection. Diana wrote the preface. It’s good that she was able to.
There is a hilarious tale of when the 9-year-old Diana ended up babysitting half the village’s children. And, not too far from that topic, there is an amalgam of school visits that rings so true. (They ought to be ashamed of themselves!) Vomiting at Halloween, children playing in the woods, the mumbling of J R R Tolkien, and how to appreciate your talents all get their own ‘chapters.’
Even if you’ve never heard of Diana, this makes for first class reading.