Last month, we gave YOU a chance to put your questions to Philip Pullman! We got so many questions in, and below are the few that we liked the best, along with Pullman’s answers. Congratulations if your question was asked! When you were writing His Dark Materials, did you randomly take objects from your environment and make them meaningful, or did you take places that meant something and make them stand out? I have tried to write a novel myself and it just sounded incredibly stilted. - Craig
PP: I don’t think there was anything random about it. Either I chose things because they were meaningful already (such as Iorek Byrnison’s name – it had to be Nordic, of course) or things that just appeared to me turned out to be full of meaningful connections later one (such as the idea of dæmons).
As for finding your writing stilted, don’t worry about that. Just keep going. Your own style will develop the more you write. Do you have extensive experience in dealing with adolescents/ teens? The ability to connect with that age group is singular and really only found in the best authors. Do you use your own children/ grandchildren as a model or do you actually drop back into that feeling yourself? - Craig
PP: I did teach children of Lyra’s age for twelve years, so I suppose I was familiar with the sort of thing they were interested in. it’s not so easy using your own children for that sort of research, because they grow up so quickly. Teaching is better, because every year there’s a new lot of twelve-year-olds or whatever. And there’s my own memory, which as I grow older becomes more and more important to me. Why is the name of Lyra’s dæmon “Pantalaimon”? I know, that “Pan” means “all” in greek and “Eleimon” means “merciful”. So is it correct, that the name should be “Allways merciful” – if so, why? It doesn’t seem to me, that Pan is more merciful than the others. Or is it just because you liked the name of St. Panteleimon? – Alex
PP: I didn’t know anything about St Pantaleimon. I just knew that that would be his name. I suppose I just liked the sound of it. Perhaps that’s one of those things that turn out to be meaningful later on (like the answer to the question above). Clearly parents name a child, but who names the child’s daemon? – Lincoln
PP: The parents’ dæmons, of course. Exeter College in Oxford is the basis for Jordan College, in Lyra’s Oxford. Exeter has its own logo, does Jordan College have its own logo/coat of arms? If not, what would you consider its logo should represent? – nanaki
PP: Well, firstly, it wouldn’t be called a logo. It would be a coat of arms. If I had to design a coat of arms for Jordan College, I suppose one element of it might be a representation of a river (for the river Jordan). Then I’d have to think about who founded the college, and when, and in what circumstances, and work out how to represent those things, if they were important. Do you watch Doctor Who, and if so how would you go about writing an episode for it? – Peter
PP: I do sometimes, but I don’t know enough about it to write an episode. Anyway I prefer to work with my own characters than with someone else’s. Are there any plans for an adaptation of The Tiger in the Well? – Ronni
PP: Not at the moment. There was a script that someone wrote to follow the BBC productions of The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, but I wasn’t happy with it. Nor did I like the first two enough to be very keen to see them do a third. All in all, I was disappointed. But there we are.
Stay tuned for our October contest, coming soon!http://www.bridgetothestars.net/news/september-contest-qa-with-philip-pullman/