Diana Wynne Jones don’t owe me nothing

News this morning that Diana Wynne Jones has died.

I came to her works late in life, as an adult, working at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. I think the first one I read was The Ogre Downstairs, or possibly Witch Week. In any case, it was instant infatuation, and I spent several weeks happily devouring her books. She was by no means a formulaic writer, but each of her stories dependably delivered equal measures of magic, humor, and heart. It’s a winning combination.

Eight Days of Luke is my favorite. Contemporary setting, Norse gods, characters who aren’t what you think they are, Valkyries in video arcades …

Steven Boyett once pointed out the similarities between Stephen King’s The Stand and his own Ariel (similarities that weren’t obvious to me until he pointed them out). He summed it up like this: “Stephen King don’t owe me nothing.”

Well, for my book, Norse Code, Diana Wynne Jones don’t owe me nothing.

I never met Diana Wynne Jones and she very likely never read a word I wrote, but she was an important teacher. I’m sad she’s gone, and tremendously grateful for her lessons.

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