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Ursula K. Le Guin
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Ursula K. Le Guin   Ursula K. Le Guin is the world-renown author of the Earthsea Cycle, The Lathe of Heaven, The Left Hand of Darkness, and Lavinia. Several movies have been produced from her books. She has received many honors, including six Nebula and five Hugo Awards, the National Book Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Newbery Silver Medal, the Pilgrim, the Tiptree, World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, Margaret A. Edwards Award, Boston Globe-Horn Book award, Pulitzer finalist, and at least 19 Locus Awards.

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This episode originally aired on 11/12/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin

 
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Bonus Question(s) that Didn't Air on the Live Radio Show

Note that you can also listen to this while you read it.


Matthew Peterson: Let me ask you a bonus question: Weíve been talking a little bit about the movie . . . in a perfect world if you could choose a director and a screen writer to do justice to the Earthsea Cycle, who would they be?

Ursula K. Le Guin: Golly. You know, a few years ago, I would have said, well, Hayao Miyazaki, who would take it and make his own movie of itm but it would be a wonderful movie. But since thatís kind of out of the question, at this point, I really donít know. With screen writers, I donít know the screen writers well enough, to tell you the truth, at this point.

Matthew Peterson: Mm hmm.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Itís a good question, Iíll think about it. But I canít really give you a name, at this point.

Matthew Peterson: Well, thatís one of those things Iíd like to see happen. You never know. I remember growing up watching the animated Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

Ursula K. Le Guin: [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: That was my staple growing up. I loved those! And then, when I heard that a movie was going to be made, it definitely did it justice. Your series needs justice.

Ursula K. Le Guin: You know, to me, the movie is a very much smaller thing than the book, but itís a beautiful movie. And itís accessible to younger kids, than the book is, and so on. So, it was done with a lot of heart and a lot of intelligence.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Ursula K. Le Guin: So, Iíve got a lot of respect for the Lord of the Rings movie.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I do too. Well, thank you so much for being on the phone today, Ursula.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Sure.


Extra Material That was Cut from the Show Because of Time Constraints

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Matthew Peterson: And I was a little surprised to see that you have a new childrenís picture book that came out called Cat Dreams.

Ursula K. Le Guin: For little, little kids.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, for little . . . yeah, I didnít know you did illustrated books.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Well, yeah, actually, my four Catwings books which are, you know what they call Chapter books for kind of 6 to 8 year olds? Those are pretty popular.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I can imagine.

Ursula K. Le Guin: I hadnít done an actual picture book for kind of babies before, you know. But itís sort of embarrassing, the whole text of the manuscript was on one typed page.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Ursula K. Le Guin: And the guy who has to do the work is a Mr. Schindler, who draws the pictures, Ďcause really itís a picture book, you know. So he just takes my text and runs with it and of course, he did a beautiful job.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I noticed, and I didnít know that you did those. And I looked and I saw, ďOh yeah! The Catwings series.Ē

Ursula K. Le Guin: Oh, I do many things. [laughs] Whatever comes to mind.

Matthew Peterson: Well, you write books and stories for all ages.


* * * * * * * * * *


Ursula K. Le Guin: [regarding Annals of the Western Shore] Well, I find it very exciting that it happened at all. They were published as young adult because itís what category publishers love to publish in, because it has a fairly reliable market.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Kids are still cominí.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Thereís nothing particularly young about them except the protagonists are under twenty, I guess. But you know thatís true of Romeo and Juliet and a few other people. Theyíre just sort of a new departure in fantasy for me, with a different setting than Earthsea.

Matthew Peterson: And you have 3 books. Are there going to be any more in that series?

Ursula K. Le Guin: I donít know. I never can say. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: Well, like the Earthsea . . . like . . .

Ursula K. Le Guin: After the fourth book of Earthsea I said, ďOh this is the last book of Earthsea.Ē

Matthew Peterson: Yeah [laughs]

Ursula K. Le Guin: ĎCause I really thought it was, you know. Well, then a couple years later I started thinking, ďHey, I didnít finish that story. Thereís a whole lot left hanging here.Ē And sort of how did it get that way? And so I had to go and write two more books. Which is sort of embarrassing. So, Iíve learned not to say never, and not to promise.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Thatís safe to do.


* * * * * * * * * *


Matthew Peterson: You know, itís based, like you said, back in history, so we get all . . .

Ursula K. Le Guin: Itís really in mythology, not history, because this is 8th century BC.

Matthew Peterson: Oh yeah! Itís hard to trust much what happened.

Ursula K. Le Guin: So we really donít know every single . . . but weíre at the edge of these great legends about the Trojan War and all those guys. ĎCause Aeneas is the man who escapes from Troy. Heís a Trojan. He gets out when the city burns and takes his people. You know, the gods tell him, ďYou gotta take them to Italy, get married there, and found a new dynasty.Ē And thatís of course what heís doing. Although, he doesnít know heís founding the city of Rome. This is a Roman legend. And itís kind of fun to deal with those people, you know.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Ursula K. Le Guin: I could leave the gods out, itís a novel, I donít think the gods really belong in novels very much.


* * * * * * * * * *


Matthew Peterson: I read and listened to the audio books actually also, a long time ago, and all of a sudden, ďThereís more!? Whoa, when did this happen?Ē Itís like the last unicorn series. You know, after all these years thatís coming back, a couple more in there. Itís an exciting thing when youíve read a book years and years ago and all of a sudden another one comes back.

Ursula K. Le Guin: It is, isnít it?

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Itís just another exciting thing.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Completely! It was exciting to me when I was sort of like, ďIíve got to write at least one more book!Ē And one more didnít do it; it took two.

Matthew Peterson: Well, The Wizard of Earthsea and those novels are just amazing. [speaking to audience] If you havenít gotten a chance to read them, go ahead and read them.


* * * * * * * * * *


Matthew Peterson: I mean, I did watch the mini-series, and by itself it was okay. But it wasnít Earthsea. I liked it because I like Danny Glover, you know, and I watched it for him.

Ursula K. Le Guin: There were a couple of very good actors in it.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, there were.

Ursula K. Le Guin: But [laughs] the parts they were playing were pretty darn silly.

. . .



Matthew Peterson: Yeah. The animated one, which is in Japanese, hasnít come to the U.S. Iím going to watch it no matter what.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Well, probably, theyíve got only a year more, I think, on it. So, theyíll probably release it next year.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Ursula K. Le Guin: It will be released through Disney because Ghibli Studios works with Disney here. And Iím going to just try to keep out of it. But itís not the movie that I . . . well it wasnít made by Hayao Miyazaki, it was made by Goro Miyazaki. Heíd never made a movie before and apparently hasnít made one since and itís just not at all what I hoped from Ghibli Studios.

Matthew Peterson: Hayao Miyazaki did Totoro and Howlís Moving Castle. Heís just amazing.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Oh yeah. He is just . . . absolutely . . .

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Ursula K. Le Guin: I met him and I liked him very, very much. But he handed this one to his son for reasons I do not understand. [laughs] It was a big mistake.

Matthew Peterson: I donít know if you can trust everything you see on Wikipedia, but last night I was reading about Goro, Ďcause I hadnít heard of him. And I understand there was some conflict between him and his father. His father didnít think he was ready to direct a film like this.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Yeah. I have to say, ďNo comment, here.Ē You know, itís none of my business what goes on behind the walls of Ghibli Studios. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: Yep, yep.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Except that the movie made of my book is my business and I have to say I think it was a mistake, but anyhow, itíll come out here and I donít think itíll do very well, but you know, you never know.

Matthew Peterson: Well, hopefully weíll get another re-make of Earthsea someday. I know theyíre doing that with the Dune books. I mean I loved all the Dune movies, actually the re-makes, and I hear thereís another one, and so . . .

Ursula K. Le Guin: You know, if anybody seriously made an Earthsea movie, it wouldnít even be a re-make. It would be a first time that anybody had really made an Earthsea.

Matthew Peterson: A first time, yes. [laughs]

Ursula K. Le Guin: ĎCause the other two have nothing really to do with the book. They just use the names.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.


* * * * * * * * * *


Matthew Peterson: And I have a question for you, before we end this interview. I have a question for you that I think is on everyoneís mind, and you kind of answered it a little earlier, but will there be another Earthsea cycle novel?

Ursula K. Le Guin: Well, you know, I donít think so. I donít want to say never, but it seems to me that with The Other Wind I did bring the story around to where it was always going, finally. It took me six books, but I got there. And so, I kind of feel like, Ged and Tenar are together and people donít have to go to that awful place when they die. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Ursula K. Le Guin: And so I think maybe that story got where it was going. But who knows!



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