We’ve posted further information about Lloyd Alexander here. And below, fervent Alexander fan and my best friend Elizabeth Law offers some of her own thoughts:
Lloyd Alexander is one of my favorite writers of all time, as well as one of my most influential. As a child and young adult, I read the Chronicles of Prydain at least once a year. I often slept with one of the books in my bed, so that it was the last thing I read at night and the first thing I read when I woke up. I don’t mean to over-analyze it, but those books had everything for me — good plots, a character I wanted to love and cuddle (Gurgi), a girl I wanted to be (Eilonwy), a friend I wanted to have (Fflewddur, after whom I named a cherished stuffed animal), and Gwydion, who seemed as glamorous to me as the teenager down the street who starred in all of the high school plays. (Years later, I still have a crush on Taran. Where, oh where, is the man who would sleep all night on the floor outside my door just to protect me?) Most of all, the books created a completely convincing, layered world that I wanted to be a part of.
Professionally, I learned an enormous amount from a piece Lloyd Alexander wrote years ago in the Horn Book, “The Flat-Heeled Muse.”:
Once committed to his imaginary kingdom, the writer is not a monarch but a subject. Characters must appear plausible in their own setting, and the writer must go along with their inner logic. Happenings should have logical implications. Details should be tested for consistency. Shall animals speak? If so, do all animals speak? If not, then which—and how? Above all, why? Is it essential to the story, or lamely cute? . . . (from “The Flat-Heeled Muse,” Horn Book Magazine, April 1965)
I have quoted again and again from my dog-eared Xerox of that article in editorial letters. The point of the piece was that every fantasy world has an internal logic it must follow. Yes, it’s a pain for a writer to work that logic out, and to stick to it, but without it the writer’s story will feel fake and too convenient.
On a personal note, I send my thoughts to his now-retired long-time editor, Ann Durell. It was Ann who read the manuscript for The High King, intended to be the 4th and last book in the Prydain Chronicles, and said to Lloyd, “There’s a book missing here.” She saw the piece of the saga that Lloyd himself hadn’t yet seen, the book that became Taran Wanderer. That’s the greatest kind of editor/author relationship.
I’m so grateful to both of them. — Elizabeth Law