Gary D. Schmidt on What Came from the Stars

Reviewer Deirdre F. Baker asks What Came from the Stars author Gary D. Schmidt about the function of elevated language in the novel. Read the full starred review of What Came from the Stars here.

Deirdre F. Baker: For the book’s fantasy elements, you hark back to biblical, Old English, and Tolkienesque language, imagery, and style. How do these inform the story’s contemporary-realism scenes?

Gary D. Schmidt: What we know about our world — and ourselves — is mediated through language, so when I decided to try a fantasy, it seemed right to enter that alternate world through a fitting medium. And since I wanted a high, noble, epic world for some chapters, I turned to Old English, which, as C. S. Lewis rightly noted, sounds like castles coming out of your mouth — an apt contrast to Tommy’s everyday life. The two languages’ representations of their worlds create the conflict — which is echoed in the story’s events.

From the September/October 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Deirdre Baker
Deirdre F. Baker
Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the past tense.

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