It’s dark here in England, as dark as I’ve ever known. Even at seven in the morning, it’s night. The sun doesn’t rise till just past eight, and it goes down before four. And if it’s cloudy, light is even scarcer.

But there are compensations.

One came last night, when I found myself sitting in the warm glow of an Oxford pub with other children’s writers, talking about how we write and why we write and why it’s worth the struggle. It doesn’t hurt that the pub is one where Tolkien and Lewis and the Inklings sometimes met, and where Thomas Hardy is thought to have written Jude the Obscure. But really, it was the writers who were there last night, gathered around the battered table, who made my evening bright.

And although it’s bitterly cold here, there are compensations for that, too. When I was growing up, I often woke to winter windows etched white with whorls and ferns of ice, but here in England Jack Frost works on a larger scale, gilding every twig and leaf and blade of grass. The other night he outdid himself, and we woke up in faerieland:

Wishing you all brightness and light in these dark days!