Research Guru / Moderator
Mar 26, 2011, 3:32 PM
Science fiction and fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, whose novel Howl's Moving Castle was adapted into an Oscar-nominated anime movie in 2004, died early Saturday morning after a year-long struggle with lung cancer. She was 76.
Howl's Moving Castle author Diana Wynne Jones dies
Hayao Miyazaki, Pete Docter and Rick Dempsey co-directed the adaptation Hauru No Ugoku Shiro, which was produced by Studio Ghibli and several other companies. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2006, it won the Audience Award for Best Japanese Movie at the Mainichi Film Awards. In 2004, the film was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, where it was first screened.
Jones once said that Howl's Moving Castle is "a very visual book. I think it appealed to Miyazaki because it was about magic in four or five places at once."
She believed that her characters attracted Miyazaki's imagination as well. "I imagine that Miyazaki might, almost at once, have set about thinking how to draw and animate a fire demon [Calcifer]."
According to Miyazaki's studio, the director liked the book's idea of a young girl being transformed into an elderly lady. Reportedly, Miyazaki had difficulty figuring out how to make his elderly heroine attractive.
Reflected Jones: "I discovered, writing the book, that old women are much funnier than young girls. I hope Miyazaki has noticed this, too. Turning the heroine into an old woman may not have been done before, but I always wondered why not. People are more than a little hidebound."
Jones said she had minimal contact with Miyazaki's studio. "My one real contact was when a group of studio people visited me, with interpreters. The group was trying to establish a proper visual background for the film."
Jones was dubious about having the studio set the film in Wales. "I tried hard to dissuade them from going to Cardiff, and suggested that a smaller Welsh town would be better. They seemed not to understand the nature of the moorland where Howl's castle is (most of the time), or what a fishing village looked like. I suggested examples, which was difficult as I had largely made these places up, but they seemed doubtful about going there."
The film's setting was actually modeled on the French region of Alsace, but Jones was not concerned by the changes that Miyazaki made to her book: "I have been an admirer of Miyazaki for many years. He has an ability to make beautiful, meticulous images without ever losing the rhythm and impetus of his story. It isn't really my place to have fears and reservations."
Jones enjoyed a mini-remission from cancer late last year, but this year the cancer redeveloped, and she sickened again.
She was born in London on August 16, 1934. While studying for her bachelor's degree at St. Anne's College at Oxford, she attended lectures by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Jones was the author of the Dalemark Quartet, the Chrestomanci cycle, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland and numerous other fantasy novels aimed at the young adult market, but enjoyed by many adults. Jones won the Mythopoeic Award for The Crown of Dalemark and Dark Lord of Derkholm, as well as the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
According to her fansite, two of Jones' books are forthcoming.
A short novel for younger readers, Earwig and the Witch, will be published this summer by HarperCollins (UK), Greenwillow (US) and Tokuma Shoten (Japan). This tells the story of young Earwig, who loved living in an orphanage and hates Bella Yaga, who chose her from the children's home and makes her do horrible jobs such as scrubbing the floor and powdering rats' bones. With the help of Thomas the Cat, Earwig solves her predicament with Jones' trademark humor and understanding.
Next year, David Fickling Publishers will produce a collection of her articles, lectures and talks. This will include an introduction by Charlie Butler and an interview by him with her, probably Jones' last-ever interview.
Diana Wynne Jones' papers are being preserved by Seven Stories, the museum and archive of children's books.
[Via Diana Wynne Jones Official Website -- http://www.leemac.freeserve.co.uk/]
(This post was edited by eminovitz on Mar 26, 2011, 3:33 PM)