Books that Matter: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

The first of my “Books that Matter” series of essays.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones remains one of my favorite books, close to ten years after I first read it.

The main characters, from Sophie to Howl to Calcifer to Michael feel like people I know. I care about them, I laugh at their comments, and delight in their flaws. They grow and progress as characters over the course of the book and do so organically. Their actions make sense, and above all, are believable.

Secondly, Ms Wynne Jones’s writing style. The pacing is good, and the book is genuinely funny. Like classic Disney movies and Pixar films, the book operates on two levels–the “ooh, this is fun! I like this!” level I first enjoyed as a young teen–and a different, can’t-quite-put-my-finger-on-it level I appreciate now that I’m older. I’m close to Sophie’s age (I think I’m actually a little older than she is), but I can relate to her.

The humor. The characters. As a writer, I hope to infuse my own work with a clearly humorous note, and have characters that shine, and are memorable. Her humor is traceable back to the characters, capitalizing on their flaws and little tics, such as when the terribly vain Howl fills the castle with green slime because his hair has turned ever-so-slightly ginger. While not a realistic situation, I’m sure that many of us have known a vain person in our lives or wanted to cover stuff in slime when having a bad day.

Ms Wynne Jones, you were a fantastic writer. I had always dreamed of meeting you, of telling you how much your books mattered to me when I was younger, and how much I still enjoy them today. When I have children of my own, I will be certain to share my love of your books with them. Rest in peace.

Books that Matter

An idea came to me the other day I thought about the “15 Books that Changed My Life” meme I filled out a couple of years ago, listing books that had piqued my interest and had shaped who I was as a reader and a writer.

As I dried my hair, I realized that this list had changed in the year-and-a-half since I wrote it, and that the list of books was never really stuck on 15. Also, I couldn’t describe what, exactly, made this book so important to me.

Hence this new feature. I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be updating it (I’d love to write it weekly and have it appear on Saturdays).

A Call for Beta Readers (pretty please?)

Hello dear readers!

So, I’m entering a short story contest and I was wondering if anyone would mind being my beta? I haven’t decided which story I’m going to submit, but I’ve narrowed it down to three stories I’ve written recently–two historical fiction based on the Battle of Britain and one more observational, a modern tale set in Boston.

Anyways, the submission is due on February 1st, so it doesn’t give me too much time. Fortunately, my stories are all under 3000 words, so they should take too long to read. XD

If you’re interested in being my beta, leave a comment.