Friday, 22 January 2010
Confessions of a Youthful Misdemeanour - Lucy Coats
I didn't discover Diana Wynne Jones at all till I was in my twenties, but I loved her books no less for that. I was working in those far off days as an editor for Heinemann, and was nominally in charge of some of the (then) new and shiny yellow Banana Books. It was terribly exciting to be editing such literary luminaries as Mary Hoffman, Penelope Lively, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Dick King-Smith (to whom I was known as the Lacy Scout) and the late, lovely Douglas Hill with whom I had possibly the longest, chattiest and best author lunch ever and never got back to work at all. It was a wonderful time, and I plunged headfirst into reading every modern children's book I could get my hands on to catch up on the ten or so years I'd missed out on.
That included Charmed Life, and I fell in love with Chrestomanci Castle and its inhabitants at once. You can imagine my delight when a Banana Book story from Diana Wynne Jones fell onto my desk. And now here comes the Dreadful Confession. I found that I wasn't actually very keen on it, and I had to write and say so to her agent. Did I do the right thing? It is a question which haunts me even now, and I'll never know the answer. Apart from anything else, I was longing to meet her. But even the best of us have an off writing day now and then. At least, I know I do. It's part of the rocky territory which goes with this author business.
PS: In mitigation, I now own every book Diana has ever written, both adult and children's and reread them often when in need of comfort--and my own children pounce on them as eagerly as I do. I do hope that's some small recompense for that one youthful editorial misdemeanour, (and if anyone else out there has a deep dark literary secret they'd like to confess, here's the place to do it!).
Lucy's blog is HERE
Her website is HERE
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