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    From School Library Journal --------------------------- Grade 5 Up Using well-focused questions, Marcus interviewed 13 master writers of the genre. He asked each one about wellsprings, the influence of antecedents, writing habits, revisions, and the effects of the times (many carry memories of World War II) in which they wrote. In the process, he uncovered fascinating revelations about where writers' ideas come from and the themes that the authors deal with. One common thread is homage to J. R. R. Tolkien: Susan Cooper took a class from him; Madeleine L'Engle devoured the three LOTR volumes in as many days; and Ursula LeGuin returns to the novels again and again. However, Philip Pullman can find little in the works now that resonates for him. Marcus also elicits pithy quotes, such as this one from Terry Pratchett: Fantasy is like an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not actually take you anywhere, but it does exercise the muscles that will. Each lively and highly readable interview ends with some advice to would-be writers that, unsurprisingly, suggests that reading voraciously, as did Garth Nix and Nancy Farmer, and writing anything (stories for the school paper, bits of character descriptions) are ways in. The elegantly designed volume includes photos of the authors, their working spaces, and a typical manuscript page or working outline. Interviews with Tamora Pierce, Lloyd Alexander, Franny Billingsley, Brian Jacques, Diana Wynne Jones, and Jane Yolen are also included in this essential volume for fantasy readers of all ages. Susan Hepler, formerly at Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Read more ( javascript:void(0) ) From Booklist ( /gp/feature.html/?docId=1000027801 ) ---------------------------------------------------- Gr. 6-9. Spotlighting a genre that has mushroomed in popularity, Marcus' latest may draw in even those young people who typically prefer to read, rather than read about, the books and authors they admire. Following the same format as his Ways of Telling: Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book (2000), Marcus presents interviews with 13 fantasy luminaries, including Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Nancy Farmer, Brian Jacques, Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce, and Philip Pullman. The writers' distinct personalities and career paths emerge, as do intriguing similarities; many authors, for instance, speak of the profound impact of World War II (Diane Wynne Jones recalls that wartime hazards convinced her that "the most appalling and peculiar things are liable to happen at any time"). Each profile includes a black-and-white author's photo, a reading list, and a bit of ephemera, often a handwritten manuscript page. Although the absence of J. K. Rowling is surprising, this remains a rich resource that will be consulted as frequently by children's literature professionals as by genre fans themselves, many of whom will particularly welcome each fantasist's advice to aspiring authors--from the simple, sage words of Ursula Le Guin, "Read. Write. Read. Write. Go on reading. Go on writing," to Jane Yolen's delightfully blunt "BIC: butt in chair!" Jennifer Mattson Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved Read more ( javascript:void(0) ) See all Editorial Reviews ( /dp/product-description/0763626252/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books&isInIframe=0 )