Wand in the Word : Conversations with Writers of Fantasy

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2006-02-07
  • Publisher: Candlewick

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In a series of incisive interviews, Leonard S. Marcus engages thirteen master storytellers in spirited conversation about their life and work, providing inspiring reading for fantasy fans and future writers alike. What kind of child were you? When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Why do you write fantasy? "Fantasy," writes Leonard S. Marcus, "is storytelling with the beguiling power to transform the impossible into the imaginable and to reveal our own 'real' world in a fresh and truth-bearing light." Few have harnessed this power with the artistry, verve, and imagination of the authors encountered in this compelling book. How do they work their magic? Finely nuanced and continually revealing, Leonard S. Marcus's interviews range widely over questions of literary craft and moral vision, as he asks thirteen noted fantasy authors about their pivotal life experiences, their literary influences and work routines, and their core beliefs about the place of fantasy in literature and in our lives.

Author Biography

LEONARD S. MARCUS is one of the world's most respected writers about children's literature. His essays, interviews, and reviews appear in the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, a regular column for PARENTING magazine, and numerous other publications. His books include A CALDECOTT CELEBRATION, AUTHOR TALK, STORIED CITY, DEAR GENIOUS: THE LETTERS OF URSULA NORDSTROM, and other titles for both adults and young readers. He says of THE WAND IN THE WARD, "Anyone can wave a wand. The real magic of each of these remarkable storytellers lies in the telling."


LEONARD S. MARCUS: How did you choose the daemons for the characters of His Dark Materials?

PHILIP PULLMAN: Some I didn't have to choose. It was obvious what
they should be. I knew that Mrs. Coulter's daemon was going to be a
golden monkey. Monkeys for me have a kind of sinister quality to them.
There's a wonderful ghost story by the Victorian writer Sheridan Le Fanu
called 'Green Tea.' An apparition of an evil little monkey appears in that
story, and it made a huge impression on me when I first read it as a child.
Maybe the memory of that story was haunting me, and that's why it was
so clear what Mrs. Coulter's daemon would be.

Q: Why does Lyra's daemon become a marten?

A: There is a painting by Leonardo da Vinci showing a young woman
holding her pet, a ferret in its white winter coat - an ermine. I've always
liked that picture. I make a habit of looking out for pictures of people, as it
were, with their daemons. . . .

Q: You must have thought about what your own daemon would be.

A: Not very much, actually. I suppose I think of her as a bird, probably
one of those dull, drab-looking birds, like a jackdaw, which makes a
habit of stealing bright things. She hangs around inconspicuously listening
for little bright snippets of conversation or an anecdote and then picks them up when nobody's looking and brings them back to me, and we make a story out of them.


THE WAND IN THE WORD compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus. Copyright © 2006 by Leonard S. Marcus. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Excerpted from The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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