Sell us on your favorite overlooked or underappreciated writer.
G. K. Chesterton. These days recognized — that is if he is recognized at all — as the man who wrote the Father Brown stories. My grandmother actually knew him quite well and pointed out that she herself lived on Chesterton Green in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, here in the U.K. And the man was so well venerated that on one memorable occasion, he was late in sending a piece to The Strand Magazine and a railway train actually waited at the local station until Mr. Chesterton had finished writing his piece. When she told me that, I thought, Blimey, now that is celebrity.
Who are your favorite fantasy novelists?
O.K., I give in. J. R. R. Tolkien. I wrote a letter to him once and got a very nice reply. Just think how busy he would have been, and yet he took the time out to write to a fan.
What makes for a good fantasy novel?
The kind that isn’t fantastic. It’s just creating a new reality. Really, a good fantasy is just a mirror of our own world, but one whose reflection is subtly distorted.
Which books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
Right now I am looking at a very good book called “Feeding Nelson’s Navy,” having just browsed through another on the usage of arsenic through the ages. Mostly, my shelves are full of nonfiction with interesting titles such as “The World of Snot.” A writer never knows where he’s going to find those little gems.
What kind of reader were you as a child? And what were your favorite childhood books?
I barely read a book for pleasure when I was at junior school and got into reading only because my mother promised me a penny for every page I read to her properly. That cost her some money in the beginning, and then I found a book called “The Wind in the Willows,” by Kenneth Grahame, and I just exploded. There were rats and moles and badgers and they were all acting like humans, and I thought to myself, This is a lie, but what a fabulous lie! After that I scoured the local library and read everything. I even got myself a part-time job there so I could legitimately have multiple library cards.
Whom would you consider your literary heroes?
I would have to say that Mark Twain is up there with the gods and probably cursing it. “Life on the Mississippi” blew my mind. And, of course, reading him meant that I got to read “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” I hope it’s still read and that people read the book he wanted people to see, because I know that some editions leave out the fact that the Yankee boy killed most of the famous Knights of the Round Table using electricity. Now that is fantasy.
Which novels have had the most impact on you as a writer? Is there a particular book that made you want to write?
It has to be “The Wind in the Willows.” It fascinated me. He had toads living in great country houses and badgers and moles acting like British gentlemen. I read the pages so often they fell apart, and God bless him for leaving in the pieces called “Wayfarers All” and “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” I am sorry to say that certain publishers, who really should know better, have produced editions with those pieces cut from that wonderful book, stating they were simply too heavy for children. I scream at stuff like that. After all, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” was a book written for children. A good book, no matter its intended audience, should get people reading, and that’s what started me writing. And once I started, I never stopped.
If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be? And the prime minister?
Well, it would have to be “The Man Who Was Thursday.” It’s a damn good read that I believe should be read by everyone in politics.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
Mark Twain, G. K. Chesterton and Neil Gaiman, because he’s a mate who knows how to order the most excellent sushi.
And if you could bring only three books to a desert island, which would you choose?
“Boatbuilding for Beginners,” “Poisonous Plants of the South Pacific” and a very good seafood cookery book.
What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
Probably the first draft of the first one I ever wrote, but I think I’ve got better since then.
Read the full article on The New York Times.
The Great British Book Shop is proud to sponsor Paul’s bench, which depicts the orangutan Librarian character from Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and was commissioned as part of the Books about Town campaign by the National Literacy Trust, in association with Wild in Art.
The Great British Book Shop is excited to announce that Paul Kidby has kindly agreed to visit the Librarian BookBench for a signing event on Saturday 9th August 2014, between 11am and 3pm. Join us at the bench – which is located in a prominent spot on the Thames Riverbank overlooking HMS Belfast – for an opportunity to receive an exclusive signed print of the bench artwork, only available on the day. The Great British Book Shop team will be giving away 100 FREE copies at 11.30am and a further 100 at 1.30pm. Paul will also, time permitting, sign copies of books brought to the event.
Lisa Bass, Retail Manager of The Great British Book Shop, said:
‘We’re really looking forward to a day on the Riverside with Paul and his fans. We would like to thank Paul and More London Estates for making this event possible, and we’re delighted to be working with them and the National Literacy Trust on such a worthy and imaginative campaign.’
Drumroll please…… The book will be called: The Shepherd’s Crown!
More news will be published here as soon as we have it. In the meantime, have a look at I Shall Wear Midnight if you’d like to mentally prepare yourself.
The e-short, titled The Abominable Snowman, which will be published on 7th August and priced at £1.49, is about Captain the Honourable Sir Herbert Stephen Ernest Boring-Tristram-Boring (known to his friends as Bill). Sir Herbert is very bored but life gets more interesting when the famous explorer Amos Tence shows up at his front door and takes him of to the mountains of Chilistan to look for the abominable snowman.
The story is being published ahead of the September release of Dragons at Crumbling Castle (hardback, £12.99), Pratchett’s first collection of children’s short stories, illustrated by Mark Beech.
Kirsten Armstrong, fiction editor at RHCP UK, bought the world rights for Dragons… from Pratchett’s agent Colin Smythe, and said: “These stories are full of Pratchett’s trademark wit and imagination and will be adored by anyone aged eight to 108… they are a joy to read and share with young readers.”
A spokesperson said RHCP hopes the book will connect the author with younger audiences but confirmed there are no events with Pratchett planned.
Read the full story on The Bookseller’s website.
Preserving the ‘real’ orangutans
As part of our activities around the Librarian bench, we are really pleased to be supporting the Orangutan Foundation.
Until the 15th September 2014, by using the checkout code Discworld5, customers will activate a donation of 5% of the sale price of their order from The Great British Book Shop to the Orangutan Foundation, and receive 5% off the price of their order too. The code may be used as many times as customers wish, for the duration of the offer.
The Oranguatan Foundation is supported by Sir Terry Pratchett and works to conserve the threatened orangutan and its globally important habitat , the tropical forests of Borneo and Sumatra.
Visit The Great British Book Shop’s website for more details.
You started writing the stories in Dragons at Crumbling Castle when you were 17 and an apprentice on the local newspaper. What did you before?
I went to a reasonably good school, though I think I hated the headmaster just as much as he hated me. Time and again I come back to the library as where I got my real education, and The Way of Terry Pratchett is this: you go through the very, very top of a very big library and you read every last book, which effectively is what quite a lot of my adolescence was made of.
Read more on the Guardain.
‘The 50 benches are dedicated to books, characters and authors: from Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Hercules Poirot to Peter Pan, The Gruffalo and Paddington Bear. Each bench has been designed by an artist.’
Read more from the Guardian’s article on the Books about Town launch.
I have been putting off writing this little announcement for quite some time and on good days thought I wouldn’t have to write it at all. However, it is with great reluctance that I have to tell you all that I will not be able to attend the upcoming UK Discworld Convention. I am very sorry about this, but I have been dodging the effects of PCA and have been able to write for much longer than any of us ever thought possible, but now The Embuggerance is finally catching up with me, along with other age-related ailments. I know people will have already made plans far in advance and some will be travelling a long way, but this is the first time ever that I have been unable to attend a UK convention and I really am very sorry. They say time marches on, and it does, even though I have been running very fast to keep one step ahead of it. I really was looking forward to seeing your smiley, happy faces. Have fun everyone. Yes, on this occasion, have lots of fun.
Read the Guardian’s article on Sir Terry’s announcement.
Terry was on great form that day and had vivid memories of childhood and the teacher who said he would never become anything….! We then all went to the local pub for a fine lunch and chat. Fond memories of fond memories.
‘Just to let you all know, the book that’s on the screen in front of us – and is well underway – will be the 5th Tiffany Aching novel.
And before you ask – NO – we don’t know when it will be published because we don’t know when it will be finished.’
Follow Sir Terry on Twitter for more live updates.