The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasyby Leonard S. Marcus
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (February 14, 2006)
From School Library Journal
Marcus interviewed 13 master writers of the genre.
He asked each one about wellsprings, the influence of antecedents,
writing habits, revisions, and the effects of the times
(many carry memories of World War II) in which they wrote.
In the process, he uncovered fascinating revelations about where writers\' ideas come from and the themes that the authors deal with. One common thread is homage to J. R. R. Tolkien: Susan Cooper took a class from him; Madeleine L\'Engle devoured the three LOTR volumes in as many days; and Ursula LeGuin returns to the novels again and again.
However, Philip Pullman can find little in the works now that resonates for him.
Marcus also elicits pithy quotes, such as this one from Terry Pratchett: Fantasy is like an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not actually take you anywhere, but it does exercise the muscles that will. Each lively and highly readable interview ends with some advice to would-be writers that, unsurprisingly, suggests that reading voraciously, as did Garth Nix and Nancy Farmer, and writing anything (stories for the school paper, bits of character descriptions) are ways in.
The elegantly designed volume includes photos of the authors, their working spaces, and a typical manuscript page or working outline. Interviews with Tamora Pierce, Lloyd Alexander, Franny Billingsley, Brian Jacques, Diana Wynne Jones, and Jane Yolen are also included in this essential volume for fantasy readers of all ages. Susan Hepler, formerly at Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA