Sizzling hot and just off the press is our first ever What Was on His (as opposed to all the previous What Was on Her). We couldn’t be luckier, because kicking things off for us is the liberally talented and very clever Tim Wynne-Jones!
An author of novels for adults, radio dramas, Fraggle Rock songs, and an opera libretto, we of course know Tim for his children’s literature, which ranges from picture books to middle grade stories to young adult novels. His list of honors and tributes runs pages and pages long, culminating in two of his most recent: The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for his YA novel Blink & Caution and his induction as an Officer into the Order of Canada! When not writing or acting as a Writer-in-Residence (currently at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario), Tim is one of the megastars at the renowned Vermont College of Fine Arts. We are lucky, indeed, to catch Tim in a rare moment between projects.
So, with no further delay, here is Tim Wynne-Jones, telling us in his own words, What Was on His . . .
Mind: The early shimmering signs of wanting to write again. I sent off a difficult novel in September (The Emperor of Any Place) and sent the desire to write, right along with it. This is not a bad thing, really, I keep reminding myself; the well needs to fill again; the desire needs to build up a head of steam, if that isn’t a mixed metaphor (And it isn’t really, since steam requires water and fire). I used to have this propensity to come up with what always seemed like a brilliant idea just as I was finishing a book, only to find that the brilliance of this embryonic notion soon proved to be brittle if not stillborn. I’ve learned that such ideas are a kind of run on. Like the way car engines used to keep turning over even after you’d switched off the ignition. Or dare I compare it to the proverbial headless chicken, running around the yard, not having the eyes, any longer, to see that the sky has, indeed, fallen? This run-on thing is craving, I guess. Not wanting to lose the momentum of full-out writing, the wonderful endorphin rush of taming a novel over months and months – the part of writing that is truly satisfying. Where was I… Ah, yes the early signs of something new. I know that the urge to write is growing when I don’t want to read anything (see “Nightstand”) and all I want to listen to is sorrowful (see “Playlist”) and I don’t really want company. The what of it is still a way off. There is as yet only the stirring of it in some deep fissure of my brain. A slow, dark seeping.
Agenda: I’ve got sixteen novels in manuscript form to read before the end of the year! I’m going to Nairobi in February, under the auspices of CODE a Canadian literacy NGO, to work with Kenyan writers and be a judge in a literary competition. CODE does wonderful work and this pro bono gig is my way of giving back a little for all the luck and guidance I’ve had in my writing life.
Nightstand: A pile of really good books I can’t seem to read more than a paragraph of (see “Mind” above). So, an old Kate Atkinson, a Henning Mankell mystery, William Boyd’s Waiting for Sunrise (good for wallowing in), Jonathan Saffron Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Wayne Grady’s, Emancipation Day. Oh, and Tom Birdseye’s Attack of the Mutant Underwear – that might be my speed right about now.
To Do List that Didn’t Get Done: See all of the above!
Stovetop: My ultimate comfort food, especially on a raw winter night. Thai fish stew: a warming collation of tilapia, oyster mushrooms, aubergine sizzled in red curry paste, and simmered in coconut milk, nam pla and a good handful of fresh basil. Served with rice and eaten with a spoon, preferably in front of some trashy movie or a football game.
Playlist: Melancholy tunes to fill me up with yearning for the ineffable: Michael Nyman’s score for The End of the Affair, Marjan Mozetich’s Scales of Joy and Sorrow, played by the Gryphon Trio, and – oh, you’ve got to hear this — Eric Whiteacre’s Goodnight Moon, played by the London Philharmonic and sung by his wife, the beautiful soprano, Hila Plitmann. (Whiteacre’s pretty beautiful himself.) I have to think Margaret Wise Brown would have been pleased.
So all in all, Maggy Muggins, right now is a time of transition; a time, not for taking stock, but for leaving stock behind. And then of course, there’s Christmas, soon to take over my mind, entirely, what with the kids coming home, for an all too brief time, and the unbounded joy of all that.
You can keep up to date with Tim Wynne-Jones, by following him at www.timwynne-jones.com.
And be sure to stop by again on December 20, when author Varian Johnson will be joining us for our second What Was on His . . .