Locus Online

Interview Thread
<< prev | next >>


Complete ToC
Miéville Interview
Jan Siegel Interview
Locus Bestsellers
New & Notable

March Issue Thread
<< prev | next >>

Mailing Date:
28 February 2002



Change Address Form
Order Back Issues
E-mail Locus
Contact Information

Indexes to the Magazine:
Book Reviews

Related Pages
The Locus Index to Science Fiction
  Site Directory

The Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards

External Links

Links Portal



Jan Siegel: Twisting Reality March 2002

Jan Siegel was born Amanda Jane Askew and published her first work under her married name, Amanda Hemingway. Though her first novel, Pzyche (1982), was SF, her publisher persuaded her to write thrillers instead; four followed, from Tantalus (1984) to Soulfire (1994). Then she decided to pursue writing fantasy under a new name, Jan Siegel, beginning with Prospero's Children (1999), followed by The Dragon-Charmer (2000), and continuing with Witches' Honour (The Witch Queen in the US) forthcoming in 2002. She currently lives in Brighton, England.
Photo by Charles N. Brown

Excerpts from the interview:

‘‘The origin of Prospero's Children went back a few years. My friend Julian Bell, a really wonderful artist, is the grandson of Vanessa and Clive Bell, therefore his great aunt was Virginia Woolf. They all lived in the country near where I lived – the Bloomsbury set, all that lot. Julian married one of my oldest friends, and I've known him since my teens. And their three children are my godchildren. I'm their fairy godmother, because I've never been christened. Besides, it's kind of appropriate for a fantasy writer! I have seven godchildren all together, and the three eldest are the Bell children, Kate, Tom, and Sophie. When they were younger, they lived in a cottage in a little village, and I'd do some house-sitting. One day they said, 'Tell us a story.' So I had to come up with a story that would involve all three of them.

''The first half of what became the novel had been an idea I'd played around with since I was a teenager. I took that idea, thought for a bit, then pulled it together. They all sat there in the kitchen. Low lighting, it was getting dark, and we'd all had dinner, and I was telling them this story. It was just magic. This is what was so exciting – you don't get this when you're writing, the live communication with somebody. They said, 'That was really good. You should do that on the radio.' I kept it on file, mentally, for a long time. Eventually, it became Prospero's Children, but it started off starring my three godchildren!''


‘‘All along when I wrote Prospero, I saw it as just a starting point. It was partly a reaction to reading writers like Alan Garner, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. I hadn't read many of the 'sword and sorcery' writers at all, but I read the children's classics. What got me about those books is that they always chickened out about what happened when the people grew up. My whole idea, therefore, was to start out a little bit at that level, with my protagonists children or almost children, and then find out what happens if you bring in the whole fantasy otherworld when they're older and combine it much more with an adult's real world. So the whole idea was to give myself a starting point in Prospero's Children and grow from there.’’


‘‘I think people should take mythology much more seriously, because it tells us an awful lot about the history of the human race. We tend to dismiss it as 'fairy tales,' when it isn't. Fairy tales in themselves are about fundamentals of human nature. And they keep being reinvented in different ways. Fantasy acknowledges that, whereas a lot of modern literature is trying to distance itself from 'story,' never mind anything else. Which is why a lot of books are read by the critics, then people buy them, put them on their shelves, and don't really read them much, because they're not very interesting!’’

The full interview and biographical profile is published in the March 2002 issue of Locus Magazine.


© 2002 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved. | Subscribe | E-mail Locus | Privacy