Kids@RandomKids@Random
Kids@Random
.
. KIDS TEENS TEACHERS LIBRARIANS ABOUT US RANDOMHOUSE.COM .
. FAVORITES NEW RELEASES AUTHORS GAMES and CONTESTS .
.
. READ AN EXCERPT .
.
  

Advanced Search

 
NEWS AT THE HOUSE

NEWSLETTER

Sign up for the Read & Play Newsletter for age-by-age recommendations, discounts, news about upcoming books, literacy activities and more!
Click here for more info...

NEW RELEASES


Hot off the press! Check out some of this month's reading highlights...
See New Releases

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT
Author Photo

Meet Jeff Stone, author of Phoenix

Jeff Stone lives in the Midwest with his wife and two children and practices the martial arts daily.

Read more

RANDOM HOUSE RECOMMENDS


Click here for age-appropriate recommendations on our bestselling pre-school, chapter, and middle-grade book series!

For a full list of book recommendations try Search by Theme!

FAVORITES
Seussville


From Dr. Seuss to Dora the Explorer, Random House has books featuring your favorite characters!

.
.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
READ AN EXCERPT
Buy this book online
Buy this book from a local store
Ordering information
Search Again
.
His Dark Materials

Written by Philip PullmanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Philip Pullman


· Knopf Books for Young Readers
· Boxed Set · Ages 12 and up
· August 28, 2007 · $60.00 · 978-0-375-84238-2 (0-375-84238-1)

.
His Dark Materials
Enlarge View
Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse and search through your favorite titles
  • Add to Barnes and Noble Wish List
  • Add to Good Reads
  • Add to Librarything
  • Add to Shelfari

EXCERPT

Preface

I began to write this novel with little sense of the plot, even less notion of the theme, and only the vaguest idea of the characters. I'm convinced that that's the way to do it. I tried to work out the plan of a novel once, when I was young, ahead of writing it. It was an excellent plan. It took me months and covered page after page, and in the end I was so fed up with the damn thing I threw it away and started a quite different novel with no preparation at all, which came out much better. I suppose these things are partly temperamental; I know that some excellent writers make a great thing of planning every book before they write it; but it doesn't work for me.

One thing such a technique prevents is what I think every long book must have if I'm not to go mad writing it, and that's the element of surprise. I had no idea what Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear, would say when Lyra first came face to face with him. His vulnerability to strong drink was a huge surprise. I knew there was going to be a boy called Will, but his reason for running away and thus meeting Lyra was a complete mystery to me until it happened. As for Lee Scoresby, I was as ignorant of his existence as the gyptians themselves the sentence before he turned up. These surprises are pleasant and exciting; they feel like a kind of reward. If I knew they were coming I wouldn't enjoy them at all.

In the first sentence above, I mentioned something I called the theme. By that I mean what the book is about, in some fundamental sense. I've heard that some writers decide on a theme first, and then make up some characters and a plot to exemplify it. They seem to get on all right, but again, it wouldn't work for me. A book, especially a long book like His Dark Materials, has to have some sort of theme, or else you'll be working for a long time (this story took me seven years) in a moral vacuum. But that doesn't mean you have to decide what the theme is. If you're working as seriously as you know how to, for a matter of years, then a theme will emerge whether you want it to or not. It'll be something you think very important. It might be the most important thing you know. Once you know what it is, you can shape the story more precisely to help it show up, but it's a mistake to rely on the theme to lead the story for you. I think I did that in a couple of places in this book, and it's the worse for it. But there we are, we're never too old to learn. Next time I shall remember: the story should lead, and the theme will emerge in its own time and its own way. Besides, if you want to write something perfect, write a haiku. Anything longer is bound to have a few passages that don't work as well as they might.

So here is a story that was the best I could do at the time, written with all the power and all the love I had, about the things I think most important in the world. I think it was worth writing. I hope you think it's worth reading.

Philip Pullman


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpted from His Dark Materials by Philip PullmanCopyright © 2011 by Philip Pullman. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

.

.
.
. .
.