Diana Wynne Jones was one of the secrets of my childhood. I would trawl my library to find any book I could by this genius author the rest of the world seemed to have forgotten about. I know now that DWJ fans are like freemasons - secretly everywhere and recognise each other through obscure references (story of fandom in general really…).
Most people will now her as the writer behind Howl’s Moving Castle - a heavily rewritten version forming the Studio Ghibli classic. The better informed might know the Chrestomanci series, or stand-alones like Fire and Hemlock.
But today I’m going to introduce you to my all time favourite DWJ novel; one of her oft neglected YA/adult crossover titles, the title of which you might have already guessed from the image above - Deep Secret.
The brilliance of this book lies in its ability to turn mundanity into something thrilling, engaging and poignant. As much for its sharp plot, witty characterisation and imaginative world building, I chose this book for my first rec on An Adventure with Tea and Ink because ultimately this is a book about us. It is a love song to fandom, conventions, the general epic bat-shittery that makes our lives as fans that bit better.
In her story of mistaken identity, complex scheming and a centaur being driven round in the back of a car, DWJ is clearly writing what she knows. The meat of the plot centres round a genre-writing convention in a fictional English town; for anyone who has ever attended a con or a meet up - or even just stayed up too late on tumblr and seen the terrors of nightblogging - will recognise the characters that people the world of Deep Secret. Characteristically wry and intelligent, DWJ weaves her gripping adventure story into the fabric of fan life. Into our passion, our extremes, our creativity - this is not a rosy portrait, it is honest and at times cringe-worthy, but it is above all loving.
Diana Wynne Jones passed away in 2011. Prolific writer of fantasy, keen participant at conventions, ground breaker, childhood-maker, student of Tolkien and Lewis at Oxford, inspiration and general all round BAMF. She was one of us. For all these things, and so much more besides - I salute her.