Ursula Le Guin is amazed that critics find Rowling "wonderfully original" and complains that the writer "could have been more gracious about her predecessors". Her Earthsea quartet featured a school for wizards long before Potter was a twinkle in Rowling's eye.
As a fantasy writer, she learned that new worlds are not "so much invented as discovered". She says that she learned from Tolkein "... the trick of hinting at a whole background with a few names, so you'd feel situated in a real world, not a fantasy bubble."
She found C.S. Lewis less palatable: "simply Christian apologia, full of hatred and contempt for people who didn't agree."
And she lists works which she considers part of the lineage of modern fantasy writing: Shelley's Frankenstein and Phillip K. Dick, and also some more unlikely literary writers Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Jose Saramago and Marquez. She says she was also influenced by Dickens and Tolstoy. "You have to shoot as high as you can shoot," she says. (Good advice this, for wanne-be fantasy writers nearer home!)
Read more about Le Guin's life and writing in today's Guardian. Her 20th novel, Gifts, now out kicks off a new fantasy series for young adults.