Books can truly change our lives: the lives of those who read them, the lives of those who write them. Readers and writers alike discover things they never knew about the world and about themselves.
Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.
I used the imaginary kingdom not as a sentimentalized fairyland but as an opening wedge to express what I hoped would be some very hard truths.
In whatever guise - our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death - the problems are agonizingly familiar. And an openness to compassion, love, and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom.
Using the device of an imaginary world allows me in some strange way to go to the central issues - it's one of many ways to express feelings about real people, about real human relationships.