J.L. Bell is a writer and reader of fantasy literature, with a special fondness for L. Frank Baum of Oz fame. He is the editor of Oziana, creative
magazine of the International Wizard of Oz Club, and an Assistant
Regional Advisor in the Society of Children’s Book Writers &
Illustrators. A judge in the Fantasy and Science Fiction category, he recently answered some questions for us.
Q. What’s your blog?
A, Oz and Ends, musings on fantasy literature for kids (and publishing in general, and whatever other stuff I can sneak past the blog police).
I also maintain a blog called Boston 1775, about the history of New England during the Revolutionary War.
Q. When did you start blogging?
A. May 2006
Q. Why do you blog?
A. a) Discipline in writing (I post nearly every day);
b) Taking advantage of how blogging is a way to build a website gradually and flexibly, rather than having to design it in detail before going live;;
c) The secret certainty that vast crowds will be interested in my opinion once I figure out what it is.
Q. What’s your favorite book that didn’t make the shortlist:
A. This is hard for me to answer since I always feel like I’m catching up on the latest books. For example, one of my favorite first-time reads in 2006 was George MacDonald’s The Light Princess, and that was written in 1864. And as it stands now, halfway through the process, the 2006 fantasy book I’ve most enjoyed reading is one that darn Cybils nominating committee forced on me.
Q. Do you and your kids ever disagree on reading choices? Tell us about it.
A. Certainly not! My children trust my choices about literature without question, as well as my advice on all other matters. As you can tell, those children don’t exist.
My godson and his twin brother, on the other hand, have had a four-year love affair with train literature: Thomas the Tank Engine, Watty Piper, etc. Considering that all trains can do is move forward or backward, I’m amazed at how many stories are told about their choices in life.
Q. Send us links to two or three of your favorite blog posts from 2006 so we can showcase your writing on Cybils.
A. Some postings on what defines fantasy stories and what, if anything, sets them off from "magical realism" or other genre labels have produced interesting comments from other writers and readers: