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Есть люди, у которых всегда можно найти утешение в тяжелую минуту. Иногда ты с ними никогда даже не был знаком. Вот такой и была Диана Уинн Джонс.



Сегодня я повешу здесь воспоминания о ней, а завтра перечитаю что-нибудь из ее книг.



Diana's been my friend since about 1985, but I was a fan of hers since I read Charmed Life in about 1978, aged 18. I've loved being her friend, and I'm pretty sure she loved being my friend. She was the funniest, wisest, fiercest, sharpest person I've known, a witchy and wonderful woman, intensely practical, filled with opinions, who wrote the best books about magic, who wrote the finest and most perceptive letters, who hated the telephone but would still talk to me on it if I called, albeit, always, nervously, as if she expected the phone she was holding to explode.

She adopted me as a 24 year old writer for magazines of dubious respectability, and spent the next 25 years being proud of me as I made art that she liked (and, sometimes, I didn't. She'd tell me what she thought, and her opinions and criticism were brilliant and precise and honest, and if she said "Yee-ees. I thought you made a bit of a mess of that one," then I probably had, so when she really liked something it meant the world to me).

As an author she was astonishing. The most astonishing thing was the ease with which she'd do things (which may be the kind of thing that impresses other writers more than it does the public, who take it for granted that all writer are magicians.But those of us who write for a living know how hard it is to do what she did. The honest, often prickly characters, the inspired, often unlikely plots, the jaw-dropping resolutions.

(She's a wonderful author to read aloud, by the way, as I discovered when reading her books to my kids. Not only does she read aloud beautifully, but denouments which seemed baffling read alone seem obvious and elegantly set up and constructed when read aloud. "Children are much more careful readers than adults," she'd say. "You don't have to repeat everything for children. You do with adults, because they aren't paying full attention."

She dedicated her book Hexwood to me, telling me that it was inspired by something that I'd once said about the interior size of British Woods, and I wrote a doggerel poem to thank her.

(Hang on. I bet I can find it. There.)

There's a kitten curled up in Kilkenny was given a perfect pot of cream
And a princess asleep in a thornwrapped castle who's dreaming a perfect dream
There's a dog in Alaska who'll dance with delight on a pile of mastodon bones
But I've got a copy of Hexwood (dedicated to me) by Diana Wynne Jones

There's an actress who clutches her oscar (and sobs, with proper impromptu joy),
There's a machievellian villain who's hit on a wonderf'lly evil ploy,
There's wizards in crystal castles and kings on their golden thrones
But I've got a copy of Hexwood -- dedicated -- to me! -- by Diana Wynne Jones

There's a fisherman out on the sea today who just caught the perfect fish,
There's a child in Luton who opened a genie-filled bottle, and got a wish,
There are people who live in glass houses have managed to outlaw stones,
But I've got a copy of Hexwood, dedicated to me, by Diana Wynne Jones


I crop up, in semi-fictionalised form, in a book by Diana -- Deep Secret -- and she told me once that the young Chrestomanci in The Lives of Christopher Chant was sort of based on me too. I'm proud of both of those things, even if it does mean that people who have read Deep Secret sometimes ask whether I really ate two breakfasts while mostly asleep, and I tell them that yes, I did.

So. Diana, who smoked (with joy and delight and enthusiasm) got lung cancer. And so each time I would come to the UK, I'd go and have dinner with her and her husband John, and the dinner would be cooked and accompanied by Dave Devereux, who has been helping them, and somewhere in there I would see our mutual friend Tom Abba, as well. Each time, I'd take a few minutes at the end and I'd make sure that I'd said to Diana anything I wanted to be sure that I'd said, because I knew I might not see her again, and unsaid things are the hardest.

...
Rest in Peace, Diana Wynne Jones. You shone like a star. The funniest, wisest writer & the finest friend. I miss you.

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September 2013

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