Acceptance Remarks – 2011
Author, Redemption in Indigo
Thank you so much. I am truly honoured that the Mythopoeic Society has found something of the Inklings in Redemption in Indigo. Some of my best memories are associated with their work: the first time I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the gift of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings from my mother on my sixteenth birthday, and my first half-pint of cider at The Eagle and Child. I must also thank my publishers Small Beer Press; Nalo Hopkinson for her kindness and encouragement; and the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment, whose recognition gave me the resources and confidence to take my writing seriously.
I wish I could have made it to Albuquerque to collect my Aslan in person, but from my house in Barbados I salute you with raised glass* and heartfelt thanks. To myth, to wonder, and to all that reveals a world far greater than we can imagine!
* If anyone asks, Jameson twelve year old Special Reserve.
Megan Whalen Turner
Author, The Queen’s Thief Series consisting of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings
On Monday, I will be getting on a plane, with the four other members of my immediate family — assuming I haven’t mislaid any of the children — to fly to Norway for a year. It is an enterprise which has consumed most of my attention for some time.
Please believe that were it not for the unfortunate timing of that plane flight, I would have cashed in my frequent flyer miles in a heartbeat to join you tonight to accept my award in person. I am deeply honored to be listed among authors who have inspired and delighted me since my childhood.
When I sat down to write The Thief, all I knew for certain was that I wanted the myths incorporated in my story to seem as real to my readers as the mysterious and never fully explained immortals in Diana Wynne Jones’s series, The Crown of Dalemark. I trace my connection to the Inklings through Diana, who heard Lewis’s and Tolkien’s lectures while attending Oxford, and I am both flattered and humbled to join her and your other authors as a Mythopoeic Award winner.
Thank you very much.
Author, Planet Narnia
The Society defines mythopoeic literature as “literature that creates a new and transformative mythology, or incorporates and transforms existing mythological material”. Lewis had an abiding love-affair with the mythology of the seven heavens of the pre-Copernican cosmos; he incorporated and transformed that mythology explicitly in his Ransom Trilogy.
The discovery that he incorporated and transformed this planetary mythology implicitly in the Chronicles of Narnia was, so I believe, a discovery waiting to happen, and that it should have happened “on my watch”, so to speak, is entirely unimportant. As Lewis wrote in The Personal Heresy, a poet is someone who makes of himself not a spectacle, but a pair of spectacles: we see through his eyes, and the object seen is the important thing, not the eyes themselves, still less their owner. And if that is the case with the poet, it is all the more so with the critic.
The critical object being considered in Planet Narnia is, therefore, not, I hope, my own reading of the Chronicles so much as the Chronicles themselves, and then, within and beyond them, the ‘spiritual symbols’ of the seven heavens for which Lewis had such an intense and life-long fascination, a fascination that should help focus our eyes afresh on the actual heavens above our heads, those heavens which in turn reveal something of their creator, for, in the words of Psalm 19, Lewis’s favourite psalm, “the heavens are telling the glory of God”.
It is in that spirit, the spirit of one’s mind running always up the sunbeam to the Sun (to quote a phrase from Letters to Malcolm), the Sun in whose light we see light, that I gratefully accept this scholarship award.
Author, The Victorian Press and the Fairy Tale
I am truly delighted (and surprised!) to receive this award. It is an honour to appear on a shortlist with such fantastic books, and I certainly didn’t expect to win. I would love to be telling you this in person at the Mythcon banquet tonight, but I’m expecting a baby in September, and airline seats now appear too hobbit-sized for my expanding proportions. But I’m with you in spirit, and it seems appropriate that I’m writing to you from Belfast, birthplace of C.S. Lewis, and home (it is alleged) to a rather famous wardrobe.
Growing up in England, I was introduced to the political uses of fantasy at a tender age, when my father told me that the Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher was actually the White Witch from Narnia. Little did I know that more than twenty-years later I would be delving into archives to uncover the use of fairy tales by Victorian socialists, by a subculture of gay writers, and by readers grappling with the consequences of nationalism, industrialism, and Darwinism. In the course of writing the book, I came to realise that it was not just the middle classes, but the new mass readerships of the penny press who made folklore and fairy tales their own. Academic publications can hardly dream of reaching such large audiences, but it is a great privilege to know that my book has found its own expert readers. Although far from costing a penny, I hope that the paperback edition that is due to appear in January will make The Victorian Press and the Fairy Tale a little more accessible to all.
I owe debts to many, but for fear of your banquet congealing, I will simply mention my most recent. My partner Garrett Carr, who wiles away his days writing about monsters, will be as excited as I am to hear that Aslan is making his way to Belfast.
Thank you, Mythopoeic Society. I hope that you have had a wonderful conference.