Midnight googling can lead to some rather lovely discoveries.
Long-time readers are probably aware that Diana Wynne Jones passed away in March of 2011 - I wrote a pretty harebrained blog post about it. She's one of my favorite authors and wrote some truly wonderful fantasy novels and short stories. This might be news - I tend to post mostly about poetry and literary fiction on this blog - but I really really love fantasy.
I grew up a part of the Harry Potter Generation, and I had to fill my fantasy quotient with something while waiting for new J.K. Rowling to come out. Enter Diana Wynne Jones (among other authors of course, but she was definitely the most important). I stumbled on Howl's Moving Castle while wandering Borders' Fantasy Section (how depressing is it that no stories post 2011 can involve the phrase "wandering Borders"?). There was a blurb on the cover saying "Mad about Harry? Try Diana," which was a pretty solid recommendation for someone deep in Hogwarts withdrawal. The book is just fantastic (and way better than the movie - I feel the need to point that out because so many people seem to have seen the movie and liked it but never bothered to read the novel) and I quickly started making my way through Jones' canon. She was definitely not a one-hit wonder; the Chrestomanci series, the Dalemark Quartet, Dark Lord of Derkholm, The Merlin Conspiracy, and so many other of her novels are just loverly. They're funny and incredibly clever and honestly, they give J.K. Rowling a run for her money. If you're at all a fantasy fan, you need to go out and get your hands on her books.
So when Jones passed away on March 26, 2011, it felt like the end of a wonderful ride. There was only so much more of her writing that I hadn't yet read, and it was depressing to know that I'd soon be through with it all. I've gotten pretty close - out of over 50 publications, I have her very first obscure non-fantasy novel, an essay collection she compiled, and two collections of short stories (that I suspect I've actually mostly read since a lot of the stories were included in other anthologies) to go. I haven't been looking forward to getting through it all actually - I've been kind of dreading it in fact - and so when some chance googling informed me that a new Jones' novel (co-authored with her sister) is coming out in 2014, I was ecstatic. New whimsical and wonderful fantasy to look forward to! Yes! Yay!
It's titled the Islands of Chaldea, and while I'm aware that it's probably not going to be classic Jones - the co-authorship basically makes that a done deal - it's still very exciting. Now I just have to wait at least seven months for it to come out (I suspect the UK release date is significantly earlier than the US one). I'm going to be plenty busy in between now and then - working on my thesis, teaching those precocious freshmen, assistant editing - but I'm still impatient. Commence counting down the many many days to go.
I wanted to share the excitement and new novel news for those of you who are also Diana Wynne Jones fans. As for the rest of you, take this as encouragement (or a sign) to start reading her. Just dewit. I recommend starting with Howl's Moving Castle. It's a classic.
Nazifa Islam grew up in Novi, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts at Oregon State University. Her poetry and paintings have appeared in a number of publications, including Anomalous Press, From the Depths, Fat City Review, splinterswerve, and Flashquake. Her debut poetry 'Searching for a Pulse' was recently released by Whitepoint Press.