HCB to publish posthumous Diana Wynne Jones tale

HCB to publish posthumous Diana Wynne Jones tale

HarperCollins Children's Books fiction publishing director Ruth Alltimes has bought a posthumous novel by fantasy novelist Diana Wynne Jones, The Islands of Chaldea, completed by her sister Ursula Jones.

Alltimes acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from agents Laura Cecil and Celia Catchpole and plans to publish a "gorgeous" hardback edition in March 2014.

The Islands of Chaldea is about a young girl and her bossy White Witch aunt fighting to free a king's son held to ransom behind an enchanted forcefield, encountering a giant invisible cat and a fiery lizard along their way. HCB called it a "uniquely humorous picaresque adventure".

Alltimes said: "I feel privileged to have the opportunity to publish this final book from such a treasured and talented author. Especially when the book itself is so delightful—packed with magical twists and turns to keep you guessing from beginning to end. Ursula has done an amazing job of tying together the several story strands that Diana so expertly set in motion—we are very lucky to have had someone with such an intimate and meaningful connection to Diana in a position to help bring the book through the final writing stages to publication."

Jones said: "Working on the ending of The Islands of Chaldea I think I became even closer to my sister than I was during her lifetime. I began to feel as if Diana was leaning over my shoulder. So writing the last sentence was an unbearable second parting from her: as if she had died again."

Diana Wynne Jones, who published her first book in 1972, wrote fantasy adventures for adults and children including the Chrestomanci stories and the novel Howl's Moving Castle. Jones's plays and stories for children include the The Witch's Children picture books, illustrated by Russell Ayto.