9781589630031 / 1589630033

The Openhearted Audience: Ten Authors Talk about Writing for Children


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Publisher:Fredonia Books (NL), 2000



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About the book:

The writers of childrens’ books whose papers are gathered here have much to say about the genesis of their own writing for children, revealing influences and impulses they feel account for particular qualities that define their books. They speak convincingly also about creative writing and children's literature in general.

What is imagination and where do the ideas expressed in fiction come from? Why do some people feel compelled to write and to what end do they compose their stories? Dreams are a key, says Eleanor Cameron. She calls dreams a significant part of her life, as are the experiences held in the unconscious, where through "slow transformation over the years" they are turned into "treasure." Similarly, Virginia Hamilton points to the significance symbols hold for her, describing in particular the symbol of the street, especially meaningful to her in connoting "the need for sharing life with others." Her intention in writing is to break down symbols and "free the reality." "Standing on the brink of a work about to begin," Jill Paton Walsh finds her "mind on fire" - and indeed she must enter such an area of excitement to be able to begin a narrative fiction.

All these authors share a conviction about the worth and complexity of writing for children, looking beyond their own individual approaches to the whole existing body of literature for children. Ivan Southall, like many a children's writer, is concerned about the low regard some people have for authors writing for children. Ursula LeGuin discusses a "puritanical distrust" of fantasy she recognized in some people, who see a pathological regression and strange amorality in fairy tales, not realizing the function and worth the tales have in children's lives.

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