The Wand In The Word
Written by: Leonard S. Marcus
Published by: Candlewick
ISBN 13: 9780763626259
If you think about it, the true portal into other-worlds is the mind of the author, and there is no better chronicler of the mind of the children’s author than Leonard Marcus.
In this book he interviews 13 authors, some of whom I was already familiar with, and more not – Lloyd Alexander, Franny Billinglsey, Susan Cooper, Nancy Farmer, Brian Jacques, Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula K Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle, Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman and Jane Yolen.
Each interview begins with the same question “What kind of child were you?” As you can imagine, there’s a whole range of answers, of which my favourite is Philip Pullman’s “An ingratiating little prig. I dare say!…”
Similarly each interview ends with a variation of “What do you like best about being a writer?”
With these two questions book-ending the conversation, he allows the middle of the interview to go where it wants to, although he does guide it along with questions about the writer’s influences growing up, and also specific questions about their fantasy books or series.
Q: Why do you write fantasy?
A: Because, paradoxically, fantasy is a good way to show the world as it is. Fantasy can show us the truth about human relationships and moral dilemmas because it works on our emotions on a deeper, symbolic level than realistic fiction. It has the same emotional power as a dream.
Each of the interviews gives a great deal of insight into the how’s and why’s, when’s and what’s, and even the who’s of each writer’s journey.
My only hope is for the next volume to include some non-white writers and some LGBTQ+ ones too!