Lessons from the Lives of Writers: Diana Wynne Jones


As with many authors, Diana Wynne Jones discovered storytelling as a child. The eldest daughter of rather strict parents, she and her two younger sisters were allowed to read nothing more than the classics, histories, and the like. So, to entertain herself and her sisters, Jones started to create her own stories. Acting as a Scheherazade, she would write a new installment to a story in the day and then read it to her sisters at night, perpetually keeping them at the edge of their seats.

After Jones grew up, went to Oxford—where she studied English under the great Lewis and Tolkien—and got married, she stopped creating stories for a span of time. Then, stressful and hectic circumstances caused her to return to the worlds of her imaginations in order to stay sane.

And it stuck. From that point until her death, she wrote and published and wrote. Jones became one of the top names in children’s fantasy, her wild imagination influencing other authors, such as Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, and Megan Whalen Turner.

What makes her writing so wonderful, though, was her education in the classics as a child. Reading Chaucer, Piers Plowman, and Spenser left her with a fertile imagination and a wide knowledge base from which to pull ideas. This meant that incorporated into every novel were ancient ideas that then enriched the twists and turns of Jones’ stories. This, in turn, make her concepts highly unique and always fascinating.

But this could only be because she loved to tell stories.

Which is what being a writer is really all about.

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