I had another post written, but it will have to wait, since I feel compelled first to write something about Diana Wynne Jones.

I can’t pinpoint the moment when she became one of my favorite authors. I had never heard of her until college, when one of my best friends insisted I read Howl’s Moving Castle. I liked it a lot, although it took me several subsequent readings before I really understood the plot. I read several more of her books, and liked those a lot too.

And I kept reading – perhaps, in part, because I spent six months after college being poor and living in England, where her books were readily available at the local library. Or perhaps because of Fire and Hemlock, which I’d read the summer before that trip, and which blew my mind. It’s a book that does things that I didn’t realize you were allowed to do in a young adult fantasy novel – in any fantasy novel.

All I know is that over the last few years, she’s been my most read author. Her stories are elusive, complex, smart, strange, funny, and immensely magical. They’re among the only children’s books I’ve read which have the slightest correspondence with the actual experience of childhood, yet (or perhaps because of this) they have so much to say to adults.

So, somehow, without my exactly noticing it, she’s become one of the few novelists that as a reader I’ve unreservedly adored. As a writer, I’ve learned so much from her. More than that, her kindness and humor have been transmitted to me through the words of everyone who’s met her.

I’m immensely saddened by her death, but also grateful that I have so many of her books left to read, and the others to reread, and share and talk about.

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