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Jane Yolen

Ms. Yolen writes children's and fantasy books.

11/24/97 6:58:21 PM Opening "Chat Log 11/24/97"

Berrins: Mystery writer chatters, feel free to stay and chat with Jane Yolen, who is guesting
Berrins: on our chat this next hour

URBAN H: Berrins, what's the chat?

Golf32750: Hi Jane

DRLIVES: Hi Jane, looking forward to tonight...

ANDIDVM: Stepping out of the room now. Good night!

JaneYolen: <And who has also written mysteries--for kids and short mystery fiction for adults!

Note On: Night, Lillian.

URBAN H: Bye, Lillian!!**********

Berrins: Normally we discuss a members work, like you folks, but tonight we have a special guest

PacoRug: Whats this room talking about?

Berrins: (who has beat us to the punch with a qucik bio of her own)

Berrins: We will be in protoccol, which means if anyone has a question for Ms. yolen, please

JaneYolen: Hi--Wendie!

Berrins: type in a "?"

Berrins: Trina Pink, who has graciously

Berrins: offered to moderate, will call on you when it is your turn

Trina Pink: Hi, everybody!


Berrins: ::::handing the gavel to Trina::::::

Trina Pink: Thanks. Welcome, everyone. As Berrins said, Ms. Yolen has neatly introduced herself!

Trina Pink: We're delighted to have her tonight.

JaneYolen: Well, I thought there was a more elegant intro. I was just trying to hold on to the mystery fans!

Trina Pink: LOL...well, hopefully some of them can stay and hear you too.

Trina Pink: Do you want to make a few comments, or shall we jump right into Q & A?

JaneYolen: I thought there was going to be a short piece put up, but if not--let's just say that even with 200

JaneYolen: books out there, I still get rejections!

JaneYolen: GA

Trina Pink: That's encouraging! I think.

Trina Pink: Jane, most of us didn't get your short piece. Would you like to recap quickly, or go from here?

JaneYolen: What it means is that we all get our knocks in the writing game, but the professionals keep at it.

JaneYolen: As to the piece, it was from an article I wrote some time ago and damned if I can remember what

JaneYolen: it's about! (GA)

Trina Pink: LOL. Well, let's go ahead and leap into questions then. Who wants to go first?

Berrins: Jane, it was from your essay, "Turtles all the Way Down", and it was the story


Berrins: about Will James, who had just given a lecture in Cambridge, and an older

Berrins: woman, who confronts him afterwards

Berrins: ((should I type it out quickly?))

Trina Pink: Yes, please. At least a summary. Then we'll get on to DRLIVES.

JaneYolen: The article actually comes from a speech I used to give, and the point is that in all writing it is

JaneYolen: really STORY all the way down.

Ken Lac: I"ll do it, Ber, Ive got the story open

Trina Pink: Thanks, Ken. :-)

Ken Lac: The famous philosopher WIll James had just finished giving a lecture on the solar system

Ken Lac: in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when he was approached by an elderly admirer.

Ken Lac: She was shaking her head and and her umbrella and looking very stern. (P)

Ken Lac: "Mr. James," she admonished him, "I am shocked by your motion

Ken Lac: that we live on a ball rotating around the sun. That is patently absurd."

Sushiwritr: (notion)

JaneYolen: Everyone's an editor!

Ken Lac: Politely, James waited, inclining his head toward her.

Ken Lac: "We live on a crust of earth on the back of a giant turtle," the grande dame announced.

Ken Lac: (I'm just cutting and pasting, Jane!)

Ken Lac: James, ever gentle, asked, "If your...um...theory is correct, madame,

Ken Lac: what does this turtle stand upon?"

Ken Lac: "The first turtle stands on the back of a second far larger turtle, of course," the old woman replied.

Ken Lac: James lifted his hand. "Ah, madame, but what does this second turtle stand upon?"

JaneYolen: It's NO GOOD, Mr. James, it's turtles all the way down!"

Ken Lac: And so it is with writing fantasy---whether books for adults or children,

JaneYolen: I love that story!

Ken Lac: whether a plot revolving around elves or unicorns or travel through time or

Berrins: Me too!

Ken Lac: angels stalking the earth or Chinese dragons having tea with detectives.

Ken Lac: Each book stands on the back of story.

Ken Lac: And as the old lady in Cambridge would agree, it's no use---it's story all the way down.

Ken Lac: ((END PASSAGE))

JaneYolen: Okay--ask away!

Trina Pink: Great Story, Jane! I'm glad we stopped to hear it.

Trina Pink: GA DRLIVES

DRLIVES: What do you think is the difference between a story that is accepted and one that is

DRLIVES: rejected...based on your own experience../

JaneYolen: Cocky answer? About a thousand or more readers!


Trina Pink: LOL.

JaneYolen: But the other answer, the truer answer is that often there is not a big difference. Sometimes it takes

JaneYolen: time to find your editor and your audience.

JaneYolen: And other times your story simply stinks. (Sometimes the puiblished one stinks, too.)

JaneYolen: GA

Trina Pink: Who's next?

Berrins: ?

DRLIVES: ? If no one else...

Trina Pink: Anybody want to discuss the turtles?

Trina Pink: GA Berrins

JaneYolen: I'd like to add to that answer that many editors are no better at choosing good stories than you are.

Berrins: How do you go about finding your illustrators for your children's books?

JaneYolen: It's all a matter of taste.

JaneYolen: Oops--I guess that answer goes for each question. But actually, the editors find the illustrators

JaneYolen: not the authors. GA

Trina Pink: GA DRLIVES

DRLIVES: What do you look for in a fantasy book...one that you enjoy personally

JaneYolen: I look for munchy characters great writing (or is it munchy writing and great characters.) It's hard

JaneYolen: to surprise me with plot any more. Though certain situations I find very appealing. Like the

JaneYolen: Pullman books.

JaneYolen: GA

Trina Pink: More questions, folks?

Golf32750: ?

Trina Pink: GA Golf

Golf32750: What do you mean by munchy characters?

Sushiwritr: ?

JaneYolen: I mean characters that feel real and that I can get my teeth into. Who feel palpable.

JaneYolen: GA

Trina Pink: GA Sushi (I Love "munchy," btw!)

Sushiwritr: I'm just reading your "White Jenna." Most fantasy tales are very New Age. Comments?

GAWill: ?

JaneYolen: Whoa--I don't agree at all. By that do you mean crunch granola? Do you mean eco-friendly? Do you mean

Sushiwritr: (In outlook and paganistic worlds)

JaneYolen: pyramids and colonic irrigation? Or do you mean that many fantasy novels arfe dealing with the

JaneYolen: great ideas of good/evil,honor/truth words that I have called the "pornography of innocence."

Sushiwritr: The "circle" of good and evil, etc. Opposite of CS Lewis and a few others.

Murceil: ?

JaneYolen: Paganistic worlds. Hmmm. You mean like New York CIty or Minneapolis? Or do you mean non-Christian?

Sushiwritr: LoL . Non. It's OK, just wondering.

JaneYolen: There are "Christian fantasy novels" being written and pubbed these days as well.

Sushiwritr: By major houses?

JaneYolen: I also happen to be the Hans Jewish Andersen of America, so I am afraid it's not an argument

Berrins: lol

JaneYolen: that worries me a lot! GA

Trina Pink: LOL...Jane, Sushi is our resident conservative. :-)

Trina Pink: GA GAWill

GAWill: Do you always know the ending before you start writing a story? GA

Sushiwritr: :-) (unorthodox too.)

JaneYolen: Well, what can you expect of raw fish! <g>

Trina Pink: (No offense, of course)

JaneYolen: None at all. I just find it an amusing concept. Different tastes.

Trina Pink: Jane, did you see GAWill's question, a few comments up?

JaneYolen: I rarely know the ending and I like to be surprised by it. Since an ending should

JaneYolen: really be both surprising and inevitable, I think I should have some of that surprise as well!

Murceil: pornography of innocence-a most ambiguous phrase-i like it

HlywdJoey: Good evening! This is my first visit. I'm seeking fellow screenwriters to chat with.

JaneYolen: Well, I have done a couple of small screen plays. But not what you would call a major thing.

GAWill: Thanks, Jane!

Trina Pink: Ready for the next question?

JaneYolen: (Trying to keep him/her here as well!)

Yehudit B: ?

JaneYolen: GA

Trina Pink: GA Murceil (LOL...good for you, Jane)

Murceil: pornography of innocense

Murceil: i like it

JaneYolen: Thanks!

SharmaUSA: ?

Trina Pink: GA Yehudit

Yehudit B: How many hours a day do you spend writing?

JaneYolen: As many as I can---short answer.

JaneYolen: Long answer is different:

JaneYolen: I am at my desk usually up to ten hours a day, but much of it is business these days.

JaneYolen: That is one of the drawbacks of success. (I know, no one pities me for that!) But it is nonetheless

JaneYolen: true. I get fan mail and requests and queries and revisions and etc. etc. bloody etc.

JaneYolen: GA

Trina Pink: GA Sharma

SharmaUSA: Jane, how has the writing process changed for you, over the years? Do you ...

SharmaUSA: ... craft stories differently now than when you started? ga


JaneYolen: Sharma: I still adore the writing. It's the business I cannot stand. As for the craft

JaneYolen: I think I am better (God, I hope so!) and I am more relaxed about most of the things I write, knowing

JaneYolen: I will be able to complete them. Not all, though. I have a pre-Raphaelite novel I have been meaning

JaneYolen: to get to for about five years now and don't think I am good enough. I have A.S. Byatt on the brain,

JaneYolen: you see. And that stops me cold. I think she should write it, not me.

JaneYolen: GA

Trina Pink: GA DRLIVES

DRLIVES: Do you have a method/system for tracking plot development, character development, etc

Strebe: ?

JaneYolen: Yes--it's called re-reading. I am not being facetious. That's what I do--reread to get into the voice

JaneYolen: of the book and the characters all over again.

Berrins: reread aloud?

JaneYolen: As to plot, isn't that what copy editors are for???? And husbands? <g> GA

DRLIVES: How do you avoid obsession with re-reading?

JaneYolen: Yes I read out loud most of the time. GA

Trina Pink: GA Strebe

Golf32750: ?

JaneYolen: Obession? What makes you think I avoid obsession? GA


Strebe: Why is writing important to you? Do you care what your readers get out of it?

Strebe: GA

JaneYolen: I am a storyteller. I think storytelling is what distinguishes us from animals, It is a most human

JaneYolen: activity. That's why I am obsessive. And yes I care tremendously that my readers get it, but I will

JaneYolen: never write down or write badly in order for them to "get" it. If they have to stretch, fine. GA

Trina Pink: GA Golf

Golf32750: Is there one major pitfall that writers fall into

Strebe: Hmph. I always got in trouble when I told stories.


JaneYolen: Probably lack of details. I see a lot of bad or junior writing, in which the details are not there.

Berrins: ?

JaneYolen: You don't need a LOT of details, but the difference between saying "She went outside. It was cold." and

JaneYolen: "She went outside and the minute she was away from the comfort of the house, the cold air struck her

JaneYolen: cheeks like a slap." is enormous. GA

Golf32750: You are saying "show" not "tell"

JaneYolen: Always.

Trina Pink: GA Berrins

Berrins: You have said research is very important in fantasy, both in place and in use of

Berrins: creatures like elves and such

Berrins: when do you begin to depart from what you have learned and what you create?

Ken Lac: ?

JaneYolen: The problem with most new writrs of fantasy is that they read only recent books and never primary

JaneYolen: materials. Read the old folklore before you indulge in fakelore. Then you will begin to get

JaneYolen: fantasy right! As to departing from what you learn--one of the things you learn from folklore

Sushiwritr: ?

JaneYolen: is how many different ways there are to write an elf! (And almost all of them nasty, amoral, aloof.)

Berrins: fakelore vs folklore - like it! GA

JaneYolen: Kipling had a poem about that, the 9 and 90 ways of constructing tribal lays! GA

Trina Pink: GA Ken

Ken Lac: Rhetorical question: What are your reasons for finding fantasy important?

JaneYolen: (Fakelore is not my term, but the folklorist Dorson's, and he was not using it to be nice!)

Ken Lac: (or is that an essay question?)

JaneYolen: An essay question. A rhetorical question would mean you were planning to answer it yourself!

Ken Lac: Essay away, please: I have no answers!

JaneYolen: I have written essays on it, and couldn't give you a one word answer., Read my book TOUCH MAGIC.

JaneYolen: Which is--alas OP--but you can find it in libraries.\

Trina Pink: GA Sushi

Sushiwritr: Could you please name a few of the most influential "primary" writers?

Derbyday1: ?

JaneYolen: Get your hands on folk tale collections: Grimms, of course. Asbjornsen & Moe for the Norwegian.

JaneYolen: Afanesev for the Russian. Pantheon has a series of folk tale collections. (One of which--I say without

JaneYolen: embarassment--is my FAVORITE FOLK TALES AROUND THE WORLD. University of Chicago has a brilliant line

Golf32750: ?

JaneYolen: of books. There are wonderful collections of feminist fairy tales. I am working on GRAY HEROES

JaneYolen: for Viking about folk tales starring elderly heroes. Anything put together by Jack Zipes. For

JaneYolen: starters!

JaneYolen: GA

Sushiwritr: <thanks!>

Trina Pink: GA Golf (Derby's been bumped!)

Golf32750: Any special place to look for Irish Folklore

JaneYolen: Pantheon and UChicago both have Irish collections.

Yehudit B: ?

Trina Pink: GA Yehudit

Yehudit B: How about Chasidic tales for children?

JaneYolen: There are a number of wonderful Jewish/Yiddish tales--try Barbara Diamond Goldin's books, Howard

JaneYolen: (oops lost his last name), Penina Schram. GA

Trina Pink: What a great list of folklore, Jane! Can't wait to get to the library!

Yehudit B: I've herd of Penina

Trina Pink: Queue's empty, BTW, Folks.

Berrins: ?

Trina Pink: GA Berrins

JaneYolen: Penina is one of the world's great storytellers, and she's put together several books including

JaneYolen: many of the stories she tells. If you heare she's in your area, go, go, go and listen. You will be

JaneYolen: giving yourself a treat!

Berrins: Do you try and create totally new characters for every book you write, or do you ever

Berrins: find yourself "borrowing" characters from previous books

Berrins: GA

JaneYolen: Well, if I am doing a series (like Commander Toad) of course the characters will be the same. But if I

JaneYolen: do other books, I always try to do something new and interesting. I mean--I have to be kept

JaneYolen: interested and I have a very low threshold of boredom!

Berrins: ?

Strebe: ?

JaneYolen: But I do find myself borrowing phrases from myself every once in a while. I hate it when that happens!

Trina Pink: GA Berrins

Berrins: Does the "malling" of bookselling terrify you as it does most of us?

Strebe: Hey. I'm not terrified.

JaneYolen: I try very hard to do my book signings in Independent stores. The mall stories do not need me.

Berrins: (I miss the Globe) GA

JaneYolen: I am not 100% on that. For example, my daughter lives in Myrtle Beach and there's B&N there--and Christian

JaneYolen: bookstores. So I go and sign at B&N.

Trina Pink: GA Strebe (LOL)

Strebe: No... I abdicate. Next, please.

SharmaUSA: ?

Trina Pink: GA Sharma (LOL, Daan)

Strebe: Oh, I remember: ?

SharmaUSA: GA

Trina Pink: ROFL...GA, Daan.

Strebe: Do you engage in word play in your books, Ms. Yolen?

Berrins: ?

JaneYolen: Somebody go ahead! We're running out of time.

Strebe: Some authors seem very, very fond of 'transparent' writing.

Sushiwritr: (Actually we're the last group for the day-

Sushiwritr: It's OK if we go long.)

Strebe: I like wordplay.

JaneYolen: Moi? Word play? The woman who invented Commander Toad in the good ship Star Warts? Heavens forfend.

Strebe: I see so little of it.

Strebe: <--- illiterate

JaneYolen: You are already two hours past my bedtime!

Strebe: <--- never read Commander Toad

Strebe: Thank you. GA

Trina Pink: (Yes, But Sushi...poor Jane's on Eastern time!)

Sushiwritr: LoL

Trina Pink: GA Berrins...last question.

Berrins: You write children's, young adult, adult books- do you decide your audience first

Berrins: or write the story, then decide in the reread?

JaneYolen: I write my story--and then decide. Though obviously Commander Toad is not for adults. But I have written

JaneYolen: a lot of stories that have been published both as adult and as children's. And all of my adult

JaneYolen: novels have been taken over by YAs. BRIAR ROSE,

JaneYolen: written and pubbed for adults, is a YA best seller.

JaneYolen: And--I have to admit--a lot of adults like Commander Toad.

Strebe: YA?

Wendie Old: Young Adult

JaneYolen: Young Adult.

Berrins: <<ribit>>

JaneYolen: Toadally awful.

Topianno: Hey Matt

Topianno: Whats up, Its Gabe

JaneYolen: Is this an alternate universe?

Trina Pink: Well, I had a question of my own...but we're out of time. :-(

Trina Pink: Perhaps another time.

Berrins: we prefer the term, "complementary" universe

JaneYolen: Please note how my typing is degenerating.

Trina Pink: Jane, this was great. Thank you very much for staying up late for us.

Strebe: Out of time? We have five more minutes.

Strebe: Four now.

JaneYolen: We DID start late! So ask away Trina!

DRLIVES: Oh, Trina, you of all people should get to ask your question

Ken Lac: The alternate universe is 5 minutes ahead.

Trina Pink: Really? My turn?

Ken Lac: GA Trina.


Trina Pink: Well, (stuttering slightly)...

Trina Pink: do you write differently for adults vs. children vs. YA? How so?

Strebe: ?

JaneYolen: I actually don't write differently, but the subject matter dictates the style, not the age of the

JaneYolen: audience. However, I am known as a "literary" writer, meaning my books tend to stretch my

JaneYolen: readers' vocabulary and interest. (I hope.) To some people that is what is wrong with the way I write.

Trina Pink: So you don't downgrade the vocabulary or sentence length, etc?

JaneYolen: So what I see as virtue, they see as. . .well, not vice, but not a positive thing.

Ken Lac: Literary writer ought to be a redundancy, but as we know... ;-/

Strebe: ?

JaneYolen: I never downgrade. And I fight editors to keep vocabulary! My latest book, CHILD OF FAERIE I even made

JaneYolen: up a word "flabberghast". Or if I didn't make it up, I reinvented it. And fought to keep it in!

Trina Pink: I LOVE flabberghast.

Trina Pink: Well, I agree with you. Jane, will you take Strebe's question? Last one (honestly, this time!)?

JaneYolen: In my new lullaby book I DID invent a word: hullabalooning.

Sushiwritr: I'm flabberghasted to hear that. Right on!

JaneYolen: Strebe--strike on.

Strebe: I was just wondering if Ms. Yolen likes cashews. I have a surplus at the moment.

Trina Pink: (ROFL like a fool...hullabalooning, indeed)

Strebe: GA

JaneYolen: I love cashews. But I like almonds more.

Strebe: Okay. I'll endeavor to encourage a surplus of almonds.

Trina Pink: Hee hee...snicker, snicker...guffaw. Cashews, indeed!

Strebe: Thank you.

Strebe: And good night.

Trina Pink: Well, let's say our thanks.

JaneYolen: Just the cash would do.

DRLIVES: Nuts!!!

Trina Pink: Jane, you were delightful.

JaneYolen: Fun to be here. Invite me back. At an earlier time!

JaneYolen: <G>

SharmaUSA: Thanks, Jane.

DRLIVES: Jane, enjoyed it lots..%->

Ken Lac: Thank you Jan

Ken Lac: e

Sushiwritr: Thanks muchly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JaneYolen: E says welcome.

DRLIVES: And a hallabalooning good night

JaneYolen: That's too big for me.

Trina Pink: LOL, Jane.

JaneYolen: Good night all. Happy turkey.

Berrins: A thousand thanks (sorry, they all won't fit on this line...)

Trina Pink: Gobble, gobble back at you.

SharmaUSA: Good night. Am also on east coast.

Ken Lac: (is that the E that Annie Proulx just lost?)

Berrins: Hope your dreams are full of almonds

Trina Pink: LOL, Ken

DRLIVES: <<<thanks to Trina>>>>

DRLIVES: good job

Trina Pink: Wow, this was fun. I see jane's off to beddy-bie.

Trina Pink: Thanks, DR.

Berrins: Paul, just to remind us, who is on for next week?

SharmaUSA: 'Night all. Thanks Trina.

Sushiwritr: Will close the Log. You can goof off now. Hullabaloon a bit, even.

Mstrebe: Bye

Berrins: Hi and bye, Matt

DRLIVES: See you all next week...we have a submission, right?

Berrins: Thanks, Trina, you done good

DRLIVES: Was it Paul?

Trina Pink: Thanks again, everyone. This was delightful.

Mstrebe: Trina--does your schedule allow more time for monday nights?

Mstrebe: (mine will soon)

Sushiwritr: I'll go next week.

Sushiwritr: Judy the week after.

Trina Pink: Well...I'm not scheduling ANYTHING until after the baby comes!

Berrins: I hope Judy will be able to make her own chat!

Sushiwritr: Trina is a guest, not a member now.

Mstrebe: Good idea. I think I'll adopt that tactic, and I'm not even pregnant.

DRLIVES: great...Happy turkey day to everyone


Sushiwritr: However, we're always accepting applications.

Berrins: yes, everyone eat too much- its allowed, and even encouraged/

Mstrebe: Bye!

Berrins: good night one and all- its been a great two weeks, see you next- and thanks to daan

Berrins: and Paul for bouncing

Sushiwritr: Bye all.

11/24/97 8:15:41 PM Closing "Chat Log 11/24/97"

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