pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Jim Hines is doing a fundraiser for Transgender Michigan, and I've donated a set of autographed books. Details below:

Originally posted by [ profile] jimhines at TGM Fundraiser: Autographed Books by Pamela Dean

Welcome to the penultimate 2016 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auction!

Transgender Michigan was founded in 1997, and continues to run one of the only transgender helplines in the country, available 24/7 at 855-345-8464. Every tax-deductible donation helps them continue to provide support, advocacy, and education.

Today’s auction is for a set of books from Pamela Dean, including signed hardcover first editions of THE DUBIOUS HILLS and JUNIPER, GENTIAN, AND ROSEMARY, along with a signed mass-market paperback set of the reissue of the SECRET COUNTRY trilogy. That’s a total of five autographed books for you to enjoy!

Cover of The Dubious Hills Cover of Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary Cover of The Secret Country

About THE DUBIOUS HILLS: Centuries after a group of warring wizards eliminate war from the Dubious Hills, the Hills are a place where knowledge and ability are parcelled out in strange ways. Only the group known as the Akoumi understand death, only the Gnosi know how to teach, and only the Physici can know pain. Dean weaves a strange and compelling examination of knowledge, responsiblity and death.

About JUNIPER, GENTIAN, AND ROSEMARY: Three sisters live comfortably with their parents: Juniper, 16, who likes cooking and computer chats; Gentian, 13, who likes plays and astronomy; Rosemary, 11, who likes Girl Scouts. Enter Dominic, handsome as the night, quoting poetry, telling riddles, and asking help for a complex and fascinating science project. Gentian isn’t interested at first–she has her own life. But gradually her life, and her time, belong more and more to Dominic and his project, and her father begins to fear that the lad may be more than a charmer…

About THE SECRET COUNTRY: Each vacation for the past nine years, cousins Patrick, Ruth, Ellen, Ted, and Laura have played a game they call the “Secret”—and invented, scripted world full of witches, unicorns, a magic ring, court intrigue, and the Dragon King. In the Secret, they can imagine anything into reality, and shape destiny. Then the unbelievable happens: by trick or by chance, they actually find themselves in the Secret Country, their made-up identities now real. The five have arrived at the start of their games, with the Country on the edge of war. What was once exciting and wonderful now looms threateningly before them, and no one is sure how to stop it… or if they will ever get back home.

Note: Books have been stored in a house with cats, and may be dusty.

This auction is open to U.S. residents.

How to bid:

  1. Minimum bid is $30 U.S. Bidding starts at the moment this post goes live!

  2. Enter your bid in the comments. Bids must be a minimum of $1 more than the previous bid. (No bouncing from $20.01 to $20.02 to $20.03 and so on.) Make sure to include an email address I can use to contact you.

  3. Each auction will run for 24 hours, starting at noon Eastern time and running until noon the following day.

  4. To discourage last-minute sniping, I’ll wait until 10 minutes after the last bid to close an auction.

  5. If you want to be notified about other bids, check the “Subscribe to Comments” box when you bid.

Winning the auction:

I’ll contact the winner, who will then donate the winning bid to Transgender Michigan. You’ll forward me a copy of the receipt, at which point, I’ll contact the donor to arrange delivery of your winnings.

About Pamlea Dean:

Pamela Dean is the author of The Secret Country trilogy (The Secret Country, The Hidden Land, and The Whim of the Dragon); Tam Lin; The Dubious Hills; Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary; a handful of short stories; and Points of Departure with Patricia Wrede. She was born in the Midwest of the USA, and aside from a few aberrant periods spent in upstate New York and Massachusetts, she has stubbornly remained there. She attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, which in a somewhat altered state is the setting for her novel Tam Lin. She lives in a cluttered duplex in Minneapolis with her chosen family, about fifteen thousand books, and a variable number of cats. She enjoys hiking, gardening, cooking, reading, being a part of local science-fiction fandom, and attending the theater. She understands that writers are supposed to have colorful careers, but on the whole she prefers as quiet a life as the family and the cats will permit.


Don’t forget about the DAW Raffle!

My publisher, DAW Books, has agreed to contribute:

6 Tad Williams Bundles: each bundle includes one copy of Otherland: City of Golden Shadow (hardcover first edition, first printing)  plus 1 Advance Review Copy of The Heart of What Was Lost.

6 DAW December Release Bundles: each bundle includes one copy of all DAW December titles: Dreamweaver, Tempest, Alien Nation, and Jerusalem Fire, plus a bonus ARC (dependent on stock).

At any time between now and the end of the day on December 23, donate $5 to Transgender Michigan and email me a copy of the receipt at jchines -at-, with the subject line “DAW Raffle Entry.” Each week, I’ll pick at least one donor to win their choice of either a Tad Williams or a December Release bundle from DAW.

You can donate more than $5. For example, donating $20 would get you four entries. However, you can only win a maximum of one of each bundle. This is separate from the individual auctions. Winning an auction does not count as a raffle entry.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Note: I've put in hardcover first editions of The Dubious Hills and Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary (one each) and one paperback set of the Secret Country trilogy, in the second edition published by Firebird.

Originally posted by [ profile] jimhines at Fundraiser for Transgender Michigan

I met Rachel Crandall more than twenty years ago, when I first started volunteering at the Listening Ear crisis center in East Lansing, Michigan.

I remember some of the conversations we had as she was coming out, and some of the challenges she talked about. We fell out of touch for a while, as happens sometimes. When we reconnected again years later, I was amazed at the things Rachel had accomplished, including founding the International Transgender Day of Visibility and working with her partner, Susan Crocker, to start what I believe was the first transgender helpline in the country.Transgender Michigan Helpline image

Transgender Michigan was founded in 1997, and continues to run one of the only transgender helplines in the country, available 24/7 at 855-345-8464.

We know transgender youth are at a higher risk of depression and suicide, and these coming months and years could be very difficult. Therefore, I’ve enlisted some very generous SF/F friends to put together a fundraiser to help Transgender Michigan continue their important work providing support, education, and advocacy.


24 Auctions in 24 Days

Each day at noon (with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend), I’ll post an auction from one of the people listed below. It could be for autographed books, a manuscript critique, a Tuckerization (where you get to be a minor character in an upcoming book), or something else altogether. Bidding will take place in the comments, one bid at a time.

The following day at noon, I’ll close the bidding and notify the winner. The winner then donates their bid to Transgender Michigan and sends me the receipt, at which point I’ll send your information to the donor so they can hook you up with your winnings.

Transgender Michigan is a 501(c)(3) Michigan nonprofit corporation, which means your donation is tax deductible.

Note: I will wait until 10 minutes after the last bid to close an auction. That will hopefully reduce the impact of last-second sniping.


Bonus Raffle from DAW Books

That’s right, there’s more! My publisher, DAW Books, has agreed to give away:

6 Tad Williams Bundles: each bundle includes one copy of Otherland: City of Golden Shadow (hardcover first edition, first printing)  plus 1 Advance Review Copy of The Heart of What Was Lost.

6 DAW December Release Bundles: each bundle includes one copy of all DAW December titles: Dreamweaver, Tempest, Alien Nation, and Jerusalem Fire, plus a bonus ARC (dependent on stock).

Have I mentioned before how amazing my publisher is?

How can you win one of these awesome bundles? That’s easy. At any time between now and the end of the fundraiser, simply donate $5 to Transgender Michigan and email me a copy of the receipt at jchines -at-, with the subject line “DAW Raffle Entry.”

Each week, I’ll pick at least one donor to win their choice of either a Tad Williams or a December Release bundle from DAW. (Which means the earlier you enter, the better your chances of winning!)

You can donate more than $5 if you want more than one entry. For example, donating $20 would get you four entries. However, you can only win a maximum of one of each bundle.

This is separate from the individual auctions. Winning an auction does not count as a raffle entry.


Our Donors

Here are the donors for the fundraiser.


Yesterday was the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, memorializing those “who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.” In my mind, that makes today the perfect time to work to make things better.

My thanks to everyone who helped make this happen. Please spread the word about the fundraiser, and about the individual auctions as they go live.

And if you want a hint about tomorrow’s auction? Well…let’s just say the Force will be with you, always.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I've donated one first-edition hardcover copy of each of The Dubious Hills and Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary to the Con or Bust auction. Bidding opens on May 25th. Even if you don't need a copy of either book, there is the usual amazing variety of other things to bid on -- dozens of books, of course, some signed, some not yet released by publishers; and everything else from custom-made chocolates and lovely jewellery, to novel and short-story critiques by people who know what they're doing

Here are the links to my books:

pameladean: (Default)
Alas, we have no blackbird, though there are cedar trees here and there.

Here is a link to an interview with me by Shauna Kosoris, of the Thunder Bay Public Library: We met at Fourth Street, and did the interview much later by email.

Also, I should mention that I'll be a guest at Vericon ( in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on March 18-20. This is the weekend before Minicon. I don't think that I have ever in my life been to conventions two weekends in a row. Even when I was young and bouncible, that struck me as excessive. However, the stellar lineup of other guests and the general lauding of Vericon made me decide that I really could not say No. David and Lydy should both be accompanying me, if all goes well.

Not much other news, I guess. David and I are are still working on self-publishing my backlist. [ profile] arkuat and I went with [ profile] clindau and Tim who is not on LJ to see Ten Thousand Things' production of "Dear World." I had not read The Madwoman of Chaillot nor seen a more conventional production of the musical. The cast was brilliant, but I had a strong feeling that I was missing a considerable amount of what this production was doing because I was unfamiliar with the background. Still, completely worth the time. On the whole I expect to continue to prefer their productions of Shakespeare, but we have a tentative agreement to see their spring production, which is a new play; that will be a different experience altogether and I look forward to it. And it's always lovely to see Cindy and Tim.

The cats are fine except for Naomi, who has early-stage kidney disease and is eating only intermittently, and usually at strange hours. (I fed her at four a.m. this morning when I foolishly thought I had just gotten up to use the bathroom.) She is the best tortie and I would like her to get with the program and stay around a few more years. She is only fifteen, and would be very good at being venerable.

I was given All the Books for Christmas and my following-hard-upon birthday, and am devouring them with such greed that I don't have many sensible reactions. Those generally take me about five years to produce, anyway. However, a list:

Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (translated by Lola Rogers), The Rabbit Back Literature Society. This is a great and very strange book. I was often not sure what was whimsical and funny and what was dark and scary, because I am not Finnish. It is a lovely wintery book full of writers whose behavior rapidly goes right off the rails in ways that seem all too likely to anybody who is or knows a writer. Includes creepy children's book creatures and a seriously terrible yet hilarious answer to the question, "Where do you get your ideas?"

Justine Larbalastier, How to Ditch Your Fairy. When I mentioned on Twitter that I had very much enjoyed the Magic or Madness trilogy but was uncertain what to read next, the author kindly made some suggestions, including this. I really admire Larbalastier's use of first-person narration. Charlie is very unlike Reason, the narrator of the trilogy, but both their voices are persuasive. Fairy is very funny, but the characters and stakes are real and the world, while strange, is also persuasive and multifarious.

Marie Brennan, The Voyage of the Basilisk. The Tropic of Serpents remains my favorite of the books about Lady Isabella Trent thus far, because of the profound and reckless intrepidity of the narrator and the splendid sections in which she lives in the wilderness with people native to it; but she is seriously intrepid in Basilisk as well. There's a bit in Serpents where Isabella says that she assumes the reader would like to hear more about the war and less about her study of dragons, to which I actually said aloud, "NO, Isabella, I would NOT!" There is a satisfying great lot of dragon naturalism in Basilisk, and interesting family and colleague relations as well. Her relationship with the people who live with the dragons is more fraught here and hence more problematic (the author is perfectly well aware of this, the characters not so much).

Yes, fine, give me five years and I might say something intelligent about these books.

pameladean: (Gentian)
In addition to the books glanced at in my last post, I have read:

Lindsay Clarke, The Chymical Wedding. This came from my tea group. Um. It's skillfully enough written, and I liked the incidental details and some of the characters. I nearly put it down at least three times. Unlike my experience with Carol Berg's Transformation, which I was glad I had stuck with, I'm not sure I wouldn't have been better off just quitting with this one. It has two parallel story lines, one set in the late 1990's and the other in 1848. Both sets of characters are looking for the same thing, and both are studying the central texts of alchemy. One of the modern characters -- a poet, for all love, who should know better -- explains that if the alchemists had just explained what they were about in clear terms, the wrong people would pervert their work; whereas if they went on and on endlessly obfuscating and writing boring, terrible prose, only people who really cared would penetrate (word used advisedly) the secrets of the universe. Later in the book, Louisa, one of the 1848 characters whom I became fond of, is thinking about her research and the conclusions to be drawn from it, and though I was passionately interested in her quest and her story, I found myself actually nodding off. Louisa's thoughts had partaken too much of the nature of her research.

There's a lot of gender essentialism in this book; some of it is undercut by events, but the importance of heterosexual sex is underlined in a way that only became more annoying as the book went on. The endings of both stories come to melodramatic climaxes (sorry) and then, oddly, fizzle out; the great promises and deeds and discoveries fade away, without any impression that I could see that that might be the point.

I was probably really the wrong audience for this one.

In stark contrast, I read Sherwood Smith's Coronets and Steel and Revenant Eve. I read them in the wrong order, which was immediately apparent from the "our story so far" passages candidly provided by the narrator of the second book. But I had misplaced Coronets and Steel, so I just went on reading.

I always have a bit of an initial struggle with Sherwood's viewpoints, whatever they are in a given work. It's not that she is doing anything wrong, but that our brains work so differently that I have to feel my way for a bit until I get used to what's happening. In Revenant Eve, she's doing a curious and fascinating thing. Kim is the narrator, but she's supernaturally stuck in the position of an observer. The story, until near the end, is happening to another girl in the early nineteenth century, who travels from the Caribbean to Napoleonic France and then into a country that doesn't exist in our universe in eastern Europe. Kim can't even see what is happening unless Aurelie, the girl in history, is paying attention to it. The only thing she can do is to try to win Aurelie's trust, and to decide how much she should reveal about what is going to happen in the near future. You can tell that she's ordinarily a very active person. She is skilled in ballet and fencing. Her modern language and ideas entwine and contrast with Aurelie's more formal and antiquated ones. The story is complicated and richly detailed, with dashes of humor. I enjoyed it enormously.

I have said that Kim is an active person, but I had no idea how active until I read Coronets and Steel. Do not kidnap Kim. She will jump out of or down from anything, however fast-moving or high, to thwart you, and she has a biting sense of humor. "The Ransom of Red Chief" is nothing by comparison. This is a less complicated, faster-paced, and lighter book, but it isn't just fluff. Kim's character sees to that.

I think that's all until I manage to hit an actual Wednesday again.

pameladean: (Gentian)
This post will be a vast untidy heap of all the books I can remember reading since the one time I participated in Reading Wednesdays. Yes, I know it's Thursday. You got a problem with that?

What are you reading now?

Diane Duane's Stealing the Elf-King's Roses. I am reading this because I find almost all Diane Duane's books compulsively readable and re-readable, even if I have a problem with them on some other level, and I am out of Young Wizard books to reread until it's been longer since I reread them. I recall having a problem with this book, but it hasn't surfaced so far.

What did you just finish reading?

Diane Duane's A Wizard of Mars. The only books about Mars I really imprinted on as a child were Heinlein's Red Planet and Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, but Duane did such a good job with the manifestations of other classic Mars fiction and film that I didn't feel left out. I particularly love Nita and Carmela in this story, and I actually feel that Duane's own Martian history more than holds its own among the jostling classics. And, as I said above, compulsively readable.

What will you read next?

I don't know. Possibly a gardening book or a nature book; I often do this in February. Possibly I will go right through all Diane Duane's Star Trek novels. Or I could read one of the volumes of Players of Shakespeare to keep up the mood for writing the Liavek novel.

What did you read while failing to post on Wednesdays?

Steven Brust's Five Hundred Years After. I had lent it to [ profile] carbonel, and when she returned it to me I absently took it upstairs instead of returning it to the Scribblies shelf downstairs. It was therefore to hand when I finished reading something else while my elderly cat was sitting on me, so that I didn't have to disturb him by getting up. I confess to having enjoyed reading the introduction more than I should have. As for the book, I continue to admire it enormously and to glory in all the Paarfiisms.

Steven Brust's The Viscount of Adrilankha. I think this is my first rereading of the published book. I still marvel at how the serious and the unserious are layered like a parfait -- Paarfi, parfait, never mind. And I love Tazendra so much. As for Khaavren, I would say the same of him except that, having spent so much time in his company, I feel he would be embarrassed at such a bald declaration from a stranger.

Leonora Carrington's The Hearing Trumpet. This was lent to me by [ profile] bibliotech after I talked about Dora Carrington and she misheard me as talking about Leonora. It is an extremely weird book. The structure is classic and predictable, but the content is hilarious and all over the map. I can't think of many books that are narrated by nonagenarians. I got bored with some of the "historical" pieces where alleged members of the Catholic Church did scandalous things. Not that I mind for the Church's sake; it's just that the subject isn't as shocking as the author seemed to think it was at the time; it's practically a cliche. Very good cat values, however, and a really excellent loopy narrative voice. Also a gleeful dismantling of, well, practically everything; into which, I suppose, the antics of the Church fall.

Carol Berg, Transformation. This was like a plunge into cold water after the previous book. I almost put it down two or three times. I think, in addition to the contrast with the Carrington book, that I was tripping over some first-novel traits. I actually stopped reading at one point and looked at the back cover, which I usually avoid doing until I am finished with a book, because there are so often egregious spoilers thereon. Sure enough, one of the blurbs referred to the book as a debut novel. It wasn't clumsy and it didn't even really have that charming but sometimes overwhelming kitchen-sink quality of some first novels. It was just very, very careful. It's narrated in the first person by a man in a very circumscribed and dangerous situation; and I tried to attribute the care to him. Some of it probably was his character, but there was just a general strong feeling of being sure to get the sentences in the right place and remembering to appeal to several senses in any given space of pages. It's hard to describe. Goodness knows, my own first novel has a mort of failures in it. I also felt that the culture the narrator was in but not of had some cliched qualities. Eventually either the author relaxed, or I did, or the additional details showed that things were much more inventive than I had feared. Also, the women did show up; I was getting very impatient, though I did understand that their absence was part of the culture -- but it was also part of the author's choice of a male narrator. The book is really quite good, and I'll be picking up the rest of the series at some point.

Constance Sidles, In My Nature. I was given this as a Christmas present, a year ago. I had asked for it because [ profile] alexfandra did the watercolor illustrations, which are gorgeous. I also really loved the essays. Some of the first ones seemed to be reaching a bit to amalgamate their points with the birding that's the main focus, but as I read on I saw that the author's mind really works that way. The birding anecdotes were wonderful. I'll be rereading this in February for years to come.

Opera just crashed, and while LJ did not, miraculously, eat my post, I think I had better put this up before something else happens. I apologize for any typos or strangnesses -- LJ, or perhaps LJ in collusion with Opera, has returned to its habit of blurring the type as I make posts and comments, and it's clear that I rely heavily on actually seeing what I'm typing rather than being a proper touch typist. I failed typing in high school and I never have learned to do it right, just fairly quickly My regards to you all.

pameladean: (Default)
I don't know why I'm so thoroughly out of the habit of posting. One of the things I like about reading my friends-list is the combination of homely everyday detail and really chewy intellectual posts. I am not very good at making the latter -- I start them, revise them, get bogged down in some detail of nuance or research, and eventually lose them somewhere. But I can do daily life.

The juncoes are here. I was concerned for a week or two that the Norway maples would not get a chance to turn yellow, instead dropping their leaves madly while still green; but they have managed, and if I walk to the end of my block and look back, there is the proper tunnel of gold, leaves drifting down onto the black asphalt of the street. They are not mallorns, and there is certainly no asphalt in Lothlorien, but the effect seems Tolkienesque in any case.

It was a peculiar summer in many ways. As I mentioned at the time, I cracked or bruised a rib at the end of April, and just when that was healing up nicely I got the Wiscon Death Cold and coughed for five or six weeks. While I put in basil, mint, thyme, and two tomato plants much earlier than I had managed in 2010, only the herbs thrived. I forgot about the thyme and have not used it for anything. David and Lydy kept the mint well pruned by harvesting it for their drinks, and it is probably going to take over the world next year. Eric and I were going to make spring rolls using the fresh mint and basil, but we never did. The basil is unhappy with the frost or near-freezes we've been having at night, but the mint and thyme are still looking fresh and happy. I should put some thyme in the soup this evening. We had a pot of rosemary on the front porch, too, and I did make good use of that; but I failed to bring it inside the first night temperatures threatened to go below freezing, and it gave up and died.

Raphael and I did fairly well with hiking, under the circumstances -- my rib injury and the horrible virus from Wiscon weren't the half of it. June was cold and rainy; then Minnesota Republicans forced the shut-down of the government because they have an insane desire to control women and oppress poor people, so the state parks closed on July 1. Raphael and I were up on the North Shore at the time, at Temperance River State Park. The park, I think like most of the parks thereabouts, is divided by Highway 61. We started with the lake side. When we went out to the lake, there were no notices. When we came back, all over were simple printed pages saying that the park was closed. We went across the highway and up the river anyway. We were there because somebody in the 1990's had seen boreal snaketails in the powerline clearance. They did not appear, but the river and its rocky surrounds were spectacular. The powerline clearance runs over a tilted slab of basalt, broken up by water, scattered with patches of thin sand shading to soil in which hawkweed and other wildflowers grow, with here and there a juniper or an aspen sapling. A young deer with just the velvet stubs of antlers wandered out of the woods beyond the clearance and set about grazing. He knew we were there, but he did not give us any wide-eyed paranoid looks, did not freeze and think about running. He looked us in the eye, swaggered, and ignored us. His dignity was upset, however, by the fact that his antlers obviously itched. He had to stop from time to time and scratch them with a hind leg, which was both impressive and hilarious.

We had planned to stop at Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock on our way back south, on the grounds that the parks would still be in perfectly good order even though officially close. However, both parks include rest areas that had been blocked off with barricades, so we had to give up, cursing the Republicans in the legislature. Even if they had behaved like reasonable beings, the closure of St. Croix State Park would have distorted our hiking year. We did have several excellent visits to Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.

Eric was working night shift until July, and then a classic mid-continental heat wave moved in, so we didn't do any hiking until much later in the year. We made one road trip to look at fall color, staying in LaCrosse but spending much of our time at Great River Bluffs State Park. We did also visit Perrot, avoiding any bluffs this year but hiking along the Riverview trail, where we saw an egret sitting atop a muskrat lodge; and also along the Black Walnut Trail, which was more hilly than we expected but full of goodness, including the biggest black walnut tree either of us had ever seen.

Writing has been frankly terrible. I don't even want to try to come up with the number of words I've written. I certainly don't need even the fingers of one hand to do so. I'm feeling a little cheerier since I did a reading of the new second chapter of the Amazing Expanding and Shrinking Novel at Conjecture -- many thanks to Laura Krentz for asking me. It was useful to see that the new structure actually worked rather than being a heap of disassembled incidents bunged together with semi-colons. I'm looking at my present projects with somewhat more equanimity, at least.

Aristophanes, although bony, seems to be thriving. A failed attempt to remove a mat from his belly us to the emergency vet late on the day before I was to go to Wisconsin with Eric. They were very nice to us, calling the wound a grooming injury, as if he had done it himself; I guess some cats do damage themselves yanking out mats. The vet tech who brought him back to us also exclaimed, "You guys, he's in such good shape for his age! You must take very good care of him!" He had to have ten days' worth of antibiotics, which Raphael heroically put down his throat; and he had to wear a blue cone, which he bore with great insouciance, much to my surprise. He did have epic grooming sessions when it was taken off though. He seems fine now. When I take him out for walks, he mostly patrols his yard, sniffing carefully, and then goes back in. But a few days ago he tore across the front yard to the maple on the boulevard, ran six or seven feet up its trunk, dropped down, tore through the side yard to the back and all the way to the garage, tore back to his favorite mulberry and ran up that, and then tore to the back door and pawed at it to be let in. I must have been a very funny sight, lumbering after him fast enough that the leash was never taut but quietly enough that he wouldn't take fright at the MONSTER FOLLOWING HIM.

I'm rereading the Aubrey/Maturin books, finding all much better than I remember. This is especially gratifying for the volumes after The Thirteen-Gun Salute, though I still expect to be very annoyed with O'Brien for one or two things nearer the end.

I am reading all of you, but I tend to forget that I actually can comment now, Opera's update having apparently fixed my problem with LJ. I'll try to provide more blather soon.

pameladean: (Default)
So first there was Charmed Life. I read it over and over until I had to stop reading it because I knew how all the sentences went on. Not long after, there was The Spellcoats. I read it a lot too, but unlike Charmed Life, it was too strange to be comfort reading. Charmed Life is very prickly and has frightening bits, but since Chrestomanci is in it, it can't be as strange as The Spellcoats. I used to try to figure out the secret of that book, and I think it's Tanaqui's voice. I was in my twenties when I found both these books, and I was startled when I realized how young Tanaqui was when the story began. There is such a weight in that voice.

In time, through the MagiQuest line, there was Power of Three, though for some years I persistently assigned it to Jane Yolen, and would read it when I was in the mood for more Janeish books. It is pretty strange too, but it has a homeiness in it as well.

For some time, that was all the Diana Wynn Jones I had. I was no longer a child when I first read her, but through her I somehow passed back into a time when I hardly knew who authors were, and books appeared by luck or happenstance and were greeted as if they were thunderstorms or fine spring days. Then I began to fumble about with the planning and writing of Tam Lin, and somebody told me that Fire and Hemlock was a Tam Lin story. I began to read it with huge trepidation. I remember being relieved that Polly was not a college student, but after that I forgot why I was reading the book. At the end I remembered, but just thought, "Well, I could never in a million years have done that, but it's done, so I can do what I was going to do. Everyone will always like Fire and Hemlock better, but that's all right."

Around this time I collected a very motley and incomplete set of Diana's books, probably as a result of one of the trips to England that David and I, or in one case Pat Wrede and I, were making to England. I found Wilkins' Tooth, The Ogre Downstairs, Eight Days of Luke, Witch Week, Archer's Goon, The Time of the Ghost, and Dogsbody. I read and reread all of them, except for Dogsbody, which was so sad and wrenching that I could only manage it about once a year, when I was really craving more books by Diana. The odd thing was that I was perfectly well aware that friends of mine were scouring Hay-on-Wye for Drowned Ammet, and that there was another book also connected to The Spellcoats. But I didn't want any books connected to The Spellcoats. In my mind it was as a star and dwelt alone.

I thought, though, that there was a homeiness in almost all Diana's books, found sometimes in very strange places, or made without place by ill-assorted groups of people. It's thin in The Spellcoats and thinner yet in Dogsbody, and threatened in a way that is part of why that book is so hard to read.

Diana was the guest of honor at Fourth Street Fantasy Convention in 1991. I wish my memory was clearer, but she was so dazzling. I remember table after table overflowing with laughter and chatter, as more and more people crowded in to talk to her; what I really remember is the way that she said, "Bathroom." This is because Pat was having her bathroom remodelled at the time, with the usual list of awful discoveries one makes in old houses, and her tales of woe caused everyone to tell bathroom stories. There was no bathroom humor except in the meta, which is probably where it belonged. Diana threw herself enthusiastically into this set of conversations, as she did into everything. Our playreading group was meeting regularly at my house at that time, and when we discovered that Diana was staying after the convention to visit Neil Gaiman, we invited them both to the next reading. They couldn't make it for the reading proper, but Neil did bring Diana by, and they ate some of the leftover refreshments and talked to everyone for an hour or so, after which they had to go out to the porch for a smoke. At some point when my hostly duties abated, I realized that they had been out there for quite some time, and furthermore that the furniture I had vaguely believed to be there was actually in the back yard. I discovered them both squatting happily on the dusty, spidery porch, with a few smoke-hardy souls, talking as hard as they could. Neil told me later that they had begun with discussing oxbow rivers and ended with the idea that became Hexwood.

I finally gave in about the Dalemark trilogy and read Cart and Cwidder. To my considerable astonishment, it made The Spellcoats even stranger. In time, good friends gave me the new hardcover set of the Dalemark books, and I found out why one would scour Wales for Drowned Ammet. I read the other Chrestomanci books, and A Tale of Time City, and, oh, heavens, The Homeward Bounders, which is almost as hard to read as Dogsbody and does such things to one's expectations of homeiness, should one have them. I bounced off some later books, including A Sudden Wild Magic and Deep Secret; and, I have to confess, I didn't actually like The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. Having heard that Dark Lord of Derkhelm was set there, I didn't read that one. I also held out on Howl's Moving Castle for years, although I did read Castle in the Air. I only read Howl's Moving Castle about a month ago. I feel that its ending, which takes place at the tops of everyone's voice in a rapidly moving magical object under several kinds of attack, is actually harder to understand than that of Fire and Hemlock, but I love it the more for that. I also read, about a month ago, Year of the Griffin, and though I realized that it was a sequel to Dark Lord of Derkhelm, it was too late for me to stop reading it. I really loved it. It was very funny and wonderfully sharp and satirical, but also deeply sweet. I had to give in and read Dark Lord of Derkhelm. This was also very funny, very sweet, and completely imbued with the theme of homeiness, and how easy it is for one to lose it and how hard people work to make it happen in strange ways and places.

I hope Diana has gone home.



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