|My trophy photo with Jonathan when we met at last year's|
I meant to blog about it then, but couldn't for lack of notes (my shorthand just couldn't keep up with the speed of Jonathan's delivery. Just saying).
It was a terrific lecture and I've always regretted not managing to report on it here. Googling around recently, I discovered that Jonathan's lecture has been posted in its entirety here. Hurray!
I would urge fans and writers of Fantasy to click over to the link. Jonathan covers a lot of ground, ultimately asking the question: is Fantasy relevant? What's the point of writing fantasy?
Just to give you a taster of the lecture, here are some choice cuts:
Big things are going on. Real things. Real issues. And here I am pondering about fantasy books. How do you make that relevant to anything? ... What’s the point of fantasy? What’s the point of writing it now?
... the word (Fantasy) is not necessarily a compliment. It has connotations. It has a track record. It has previous. To them it basically boils down to something involving hairy dwarfs, dragons, orcs, wizards with big hats and, if you’re really unlucky, roaming gangs of singing elves.
All writing is, at heart, a response to other stories – to ones that you’ve been told. It’s a desire to fill in the gaps they’ve left, to add your voice to the long, unbroken chain of tales stretching back into the dark. Above all, it’s about recreating the magic: you’re looking to ensnare other people the way that you’ve just been ensnared.
... all those Tolkienesque epic fantasies are the literary equivalent of inter-railing. They give you thrills aplenty, and they lead you off to obscure and exciting regions, but they do so in a way that’s fundamentally pretty safe.
For me, this dual process is an essential component of good fantasy writing. You’re employing two opposite sensibilities – the improvised and the rational – two opposing methods of creating. And this collision echoes the themes of the subject, which is about the collision of the imaginary with the everyday ...
Read The F Word: Writing Fantasy for Children (Patrick Hardy Lecture 2011)
I have very personal reasons for admiring Jonathan's writing. It was his Bartimaeus trilogy that cracked reading for my reading-averse son.
Any mother who experiences the moment her child falls in love with reading can't help but feel forever in the debt of the wizard who performed the magic.
Here is Jonathan Stroud's Tumblr blog and you can also follow him on Twitter.
*Tomorrow, Tuesday, 25 September 2012, the Children's Book Circle is hosting another Patrick Hardy Lecture, this time featuring editor Marion Lloyd.