Accolades

"...making fun of meaningless erudition...."


John Bellairs was a one-of-a-kind writer. [He] was a truly erudite man, able to make wicked fun of meaningless erudition, and his unique wit romps through every page of this book, whether you understand Latin, logic, linguistics, logorrhea or not. To read [his books] is to realize what a loss his death was--not simply to fantasy, or to children's literature, but to the English language, and to the art of storytelling, which he served so well in the short time he had.

Peter S. Beagle, author


"...stand the test of time...."


The Blue Figurine books by John Bellairs are wonderful, and I only wish I could find the next John Bellairs one day soon. They stand the test of time, are fun to read, honest, emotionally involving and shivery enough to appeal to the 10-year-old in all of us. My mother, now 75, who's particular about what she reads, got hooked 15 years ago or so when, while visiting my parents, I happened to be reading the galleys (Toby Sherry, John’s editor, had asked me to read them when we worked together at Dial). My mother still asks me to get her the new books. My daughter, who's 10 and is also very particular about what she reads, loves the books in just the same way. And who can resist the Edward Gorey covers and frontispieces?

Paula Wiseman, Editorial Director, Silver Whistle Books


the oeurve of john bellairs


John Bellairs was a guest of honor at the 1987 Mythopoeic Conference in Milwaukee. He was one of three guests of honor, together with (officially) Christopher Tolkien and (unofficially) Peter S. Beagle. Since 1987 was the 50th anniversary of The Hobbit, naturally Christopher Tolkien was the big draw. But Bellairs wasn't ignored. There was a panel discussion of his work ("The Oeuvre of John Bellairs") on July 24, with Georgie Schnobrich, Peter S. Beagle, and John D. Rateliff; and Bellairs talked about and read from his work on 26 July for a very entertaining hour. I wish now that I had taped these!

The only point that I recall from Bellairs's talk is that he wrote The Face in the Frost while in Bristol, England -- by chance my wife's former home. Otherwise, I remember that he attended some of the papers -- he wasn't one of those guests of honor who can't be bothered to mingle with the ordinary folk -- and he hung out much of the time with Peter Beagle. I heard that they were often to be found in Miss Katie's Restaurant, an old-fashioned diner-type eatery in Milwaukee near Marquette University, where the conference was held. I had only a very brief conversation with Bellairs myself, as John Rateliff and I picked him up at the airport, and I had him sign one of his books at the autograph session -- his queue was embarrassingly short, compared with Christopher Tolkien's.

Wayne Hammond, author


"...very kind and giving of his time."


I did not know John Bellairs very well but he used to come to the local schools around Haverhill where he lived and talk to the children about books. I taught in a neighboring town and once had lunch with him at a local Friendly's Restaurant to talk about children's books, as I was writing one at the time and wanted to hear his views on the subject. This was in the early eighties, I believe. During this meeting I mentioned the similarities between M.R. James story "O Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad" and a scene in The Face in the Frost, specifically the empty garment in the wizard's cellar that takes on a life of its own! He said yes, there was a connection and that I was the only person who had ever I was the only one who had smoked it (detected the connection between the two stories). He was very kind and giving of his time.

Jean Anderson, author


a "shy and self-effacing" speaker


I was the children's librarian at the Dedham Public Library (suburb of Boston) from 1976-79 and it was during that time that John Bellairs came to speak. I remember we had a very poor turn out -- only about 5 kids. But Mr. Bellairs was so nice. He sat in one of the easy chairs we had in front of the fireplace and the kids sat with him and he talked to the kids about his books. I remember he brought some objects that he used in the books, but alas, I don't remember exactly what they were. Stuff like a stone or a jewel inside a little box, that sort of thing. I also remember him as being kind of shy and self-effacing.

He probably read a section from one of his books, too, but I can't remember. I do know it was my idea to bring him to the library because I loved his books. And since I knew nothing about author publicity back them, I'm sure I found out he lived in the area and wrote to him at whatever address I could find -- possibly his home address.

I can still see him sitting there in front of the fire, showing the kids the objects he had and talking pleasantly. He wasn't cracking jokes, nor was he being super serious or self-important. Just kind of quiet but interesting.

Fran Lantz, author


hinting at the horrible


Bellairs still the only author whose work legitimately scares me on a regular basis, with the exception of Lovecraft, of course. "Young adult" books be damned, Bellairs wrote some of the most effectively frightening gothic fiction ever, which is saying something for a genre so maligned by convention. Yes, his stories are predictable, but the little demonic tidbits which occupy all the crevices and margins that are never explained or fully explored are just as scary to me as any of the stygian cities of the Elder Gods. It all comes down to the difference between horror and terror: King is horror, Bellairs is terror. Barker occupies a space somewhere in between. Anyways, Bellairs hints at horrible truths or revelations, but never actually allows his characters to hit the ocean floor: they always have to return for air, get out of the burning building before it collapses. John Bellairs is a master, although having Edward Gorey doing the cover art doesn't hurt either.

Bruce Lord


"...much-lamented john bellairs...."


In 1987, I attended a Mythopoeic Society convention (in Milwaukee, I think it was), mainly to meet the late and much-lamented John Bellairs, whom I'd admired for years. We hit it off very well, and were sitting side by side at the Awards Banquet when the criteria for a novel's being judged Best of Breed were read off. I had just finished whispering to John, 'Well, in that case, so much for The Folk of the Air, when my book was announced as the winner. John literally fell out of his chair laughing. I like to remember him like that.

Peter S. Beagle, author ( Winner of the 200 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature)


"...a focus on the more basic fears?"


I've tried reading a few adult horror stories, and, despite being !notoriously jumpy and easily startled such that I avoid horror movies, I rarely get creeped out by novels. Maybe it's that good children's authors focus on the more basic fears? I know that in any book store that you see me in, you can track me from the sci fi and fantasy sections over to the kid's books and then on to general browsing.

It may be the memory of fear. I still get creeped out by most of Bellairs's stuff. I remember reading them and being so terrified that I was afraid to go to bed at night, and as I see the farmiliar words and drawings I'm instantly 11 years old again and sitting in my dad's big armchair with a mug of hot chocolate.

Kelly H. Watts