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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Memento Mori

Again, I use this blog to call attention to the works of two great authors, the ones who shaped my writing and characters. I have just found out that both Brian Jacques and Diana Wynne Jones have passed away quite recently, Brian Jacques last month and Dianna Wynne Jones last Saturday. Brain Jacques was the author of the Redwall series and Diana Wynne Jones penned one of my favorite books of all time, Howl's Moving Castle.

I really don't have words to describe what I'm feeling right now. I feel like I just lost two well-loved, trusted friends. I have never met either author, but their works have imprinted themselves so indelibly on my mind and my writings that it's like I might as well have known them.

I read the first Redwall book when I was in the fifth grade, by my brother Aaron's urging. He said it had talking animals in it, like Reepicheep in Narnia and I would like it. I borrowed the book from one of the library of a teacher at my school. That was the first book I ever stayed up until two o'clock in the morning to finish reading, because I couldn't bear to wait for morning to finish it. I couldn't believe how much I already loved this book, and I had only read it once. Brian Jacques made his creatures so real it was easy to forget that they were animals, and not, in fact, humans with paws. After that, I read every one of his Redwall books that I could get my hands on. From Brian Jacques I found noble, heroic mice, dashing, perilous hares, daring, cheeky otters and squirrels, steadfast and sensible moles, and fearsome, war-like badgers. I learned heroes didn't have to be huge and tall and epic, they could be small, humble and unassuming--like a mouse. From Brian Jacques I had the fortune to see the good guys always win, and the bad guys suitably punished. From him I learned some hard, unhappy, unchangeable facts of life--that sometimes, good people die for no reason and we lose dearly beloved friends. But I also learned that we honor those we lose by our actions, to pick ourselves up and to keep calm and carry on.

I read Howl's Moving Castle out loud over one spring vacation to my brothers in my father's hometown in rural Mexico. Diana Wynne Jones had my brothers and I helpless with laughter at her clever, inimitable one-liners, her incredible plot twists and characters who seemed to speak the words in the head of the readers as they thought them. From Diana Wynne Jones I found bossy, sensible, downright heroines, and glib, slippery, sly heroes who, despite all evidence to the contrary, have quite soft hearts. I learned magic from Dianna Wynne Jones, how to catch a falling star, and get a child with a mandrake root. I learned about dwimmer and griffins and unicorns, how cats are indeed immensely magical creatures. I learned how sometimes, those with authority don't seem to always know what they're doing, and how we have to think for ourselves.

Brian Jacques taught me courage, honor and selfless sacrifice. Dianna Wynne Jones taught me cleverness, strength and belief in yourself and how to tame a fire demon. I am not only sad because they have passed on, but because two great lights of children's literature and fantasy have gone out--and we might not ever see their like again.

My thoughts and prayers are left with their surviving families.

Over & Out,

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful tribute. Publish this somewhere besides here.