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.
My collaboration with Terry Pratchett on the books that became the Long Earth series came about because of shared enthusiasms.
Terry has always been a science fiction fan. He has fond memories of meeting Arthur C Clarke at a convention when Terry was around 16. And two of his early novels were full-blooded SF, The Dark Side of the Sun and Strata, though in retrospect the latter can be seen as a kind of dry run for Discworld. Perhaps in another universe Terry Pratchett could have become a rather good SF writer – but he put his SF ambitions aside when the Discworld novels took off, and he found his true voice.
But he remained an enthusiast. After we first met at a Clarke Award event in 1992, where my first novel Raft was a nominee for best SF novel of the year, Terry followed my work as I did his, and we kept in touch, at conventions and dinner parties. ‘What news of the quantum?’ he would ask me over the starter.
At one such dinner party in 2010 Terry mentioned fragments of an unfinished SF novel, abandoned in the 1980s in favour of work on Discworld. This would have featured adventures in a series of parallel Earths, reachable by anybody with the aid of a simple gadget – Earths like our own save for an absence of humans, Earths that became more exotic the further away you travelled. Terry’s sketched episodes hinted at a tale of a new frontier with a quite American feel, like much of the classic SF he and I had grown up with – like the work of Heinlein, Simak or Niven perhaps. This struck me as a classic SF idea, simple to express but with ramifications that could take you anywhere. We talked about the idea until we got thrown out that night, we started to think about collaborating on developing it – and our mutual agent, seeing an opportunity, set up a publishing deal.
After that Terry sent me his 1980s material, and we went from there, first with long phone calls and then get-togethers, mostly at Terry’s office in Wiltshire, lubricated by pickled eggs and brandies in his local pub. It quickly emerged that we had quite different writing styles. The Long Earth (as it became) is a kind of extended landscape which you could map, and as the series went on it evolved a history spanning decades, so from the beginning I showed up with sketch maps and timelines, all subject to revision but settings for the stories we would tell. This was ‘hard SF’ after all, SF of the kind I’d always written, where you stick to the laws of physics (given the odd tweak such as the existence of the parallel worlds in the first place) and you convince the reader through internal consistency. Whereas Terry likes to find his way into a story by following the people: give him two characters sitting in a room and the story will come, he says. As it’s worked out, the tensions between the two methods have basically been constructive.
I remember a moment when it came together. We sat before his voice-recognition computer system and worked through a revision of Terry’s early material, as our Daniel Boone-like hero Joshua Valienté is summoned to the presence of the mysterious artificial intelligence Lobsang for the first time. Terry veered off unexpectedly into a flashback to Joshua’s past, when he was a troubled thirteen-year-old on ‘Step Day’, the day when the Long Earth suddenly opened up for mankind. Terry likes to drill down into the heads of his characters; I think young Joshua had something in common with Tiffany Aching. We had Joshua saving other, less capable kids who got lost in the forests of the parallel worlds – and then I took over, thinking of my world mappings, and had Joshua go off alone deeper into the Long Earth, until he suddenly came upon one world locked in an Ice Age. So between us we ended up with a nice character study concluding with a hard-SF dash of wonder.gs and brandies in his local pub.
In practical terms after that, we came up with a rough outline for the whole of the first book, and went off for a few months to write up the separate narrative strands we’d agreed on, with occasional meetings at conventions and the like – and including field research at Madison, Wisconsin, where we attended that year’s Discworld convention, and were shown around a key setting for the books by kindly local fans.
I got the job of splicing together our separate contributions, only to find that we’d both diverged wildly from the outline – but this after all is in the nature of creative writing; you discover the material as you create it. I took a rough cut down to Terry and then we literally read through it, amending it chapter by chapter, line by line. (This being Terry Pratchett, some of this had to be done in a car on the way to a reception in Downing Street.) I think we became confident that this had worked; we had put Terry’s characterisation, humour and wisdom together with my sense of the hard-SF structure necessary for establishing the universe of the Long Earth.
But we had signed up for two books, and had always had an eye on the sequel. Early in the game Terry had come up with a sequel title: The Long Mars, no detail then, but clearly a way to move the idea on. However as we worked on Book 1 we realised that we’d taken the story too far, that we were hinting at a what-happened-next story of colonisation and conflict in the Long Earth that should be following our initial tale of pioneering and discovery. So Book 1 split into two, and Book 2 was pushed back to become a Book 3. And as we discussed how we would explore the ultimate meaning of the Long Earth Universe, Books 4 and 5 shivered into existence . . .
I’d collaborated before, and will again. Writing is a solitary profession, and while collaborating can be ego-collision frustrating, it’s also terrifically exciting when some idea sparks into life in the conversation between the two of us. It’s like a holiday from the narrow corridor of my own mind. And it’s at its best when we look back at a sentence or a paragraph, and can’t remember who originated it, as if there has been a third person in the room…
Books about Town will feature a series of BookBenches, individually designed by top artists, to celebrate stories linked to London and to promote reading for enjoyment. The benches, shaped as open books, will be unveiled in various locations across the capital from July 2014.
A bench based on the Discworld novels has been designed by Paul Kidby. The book benches will be grouped into walking trails for the general public to follow and the Discworld bench will be incorporated into a trail by More London. The location of the Discworld bench will be unveiled soon!
At the end of summer 2014, all the benches will be auctioned to raise funds for the National Literacy Trust.
Who is running the project?
Books about Town is led by the National Literacy Trust working in partnership with Wild in Art, the UK’s leader in the development, management and production of spectacular mass-appeal public art events.
Find out more on Books about town.
‘A few years ago, my novel Dodger took the reader back to times long gone to meet famous names of fact and fiction, and brought them together on a journey – ultimately – of chivalry. Enduring danger and peril, they chase a woman who needs saving and do their best to protect her. In the book, Dodger (who is based on Dickens’s masterful portrayal of the original Artful Dodger) gets into a number of scrapes for Simplicity’s sake. As a reward, we see him climb the social ladder of acceptance until, by the end of the book, he is honoured and revered.
Without appearing a curmudgeon, I worry that such kindness could be a thing of the past. As you may already know, I live with dementia. ‘
Read the full article here.
Terry Pratchett’s Mort
To be performed at the William Penney Theatre
in Tadley on the Hampshire/Berkshire border
Showing between 6th and 10th May
Death comes to us all. When it came to Mort, he offered him a job.
But when Mort is left in charge for an evening, he allows his heart to rule his head and soon the whole of causality and the future of the Discworld itself, are at risk.
Along the way, Mort encounters not only Death’s adopted daughter, Ysabell – who has been 16 for 35 years – and his mysterious manservant Albert – whose cooking can harden an artery at ten paces – but also an incompetent wizard with a talking doorknocker and a beautiful, but rather bad-tempered and dead, princess.
He also, of course, meets Death.
Please visit the Boundary Players’ website for further details, or leave a message on the box office voice mail system and you’ll get a call back.
Random House Children’s Publishers UK (RHCP) are excited to announce the acquisition of a new collection of children’s stories from bestselling author Terry Pratchett.
World rights for DRAGONS AT CRUMBLING CASTLE were bought by Kirsten Armstrong, Fiction Editor at RHCP UK from Colin Smythe. RHCP will publish the collection in print and ebook in September.
Kirsten comments: ‘We’re so thrilled to be publishing this collection – Terry’s youngest work yet. These stories are full of Pratchett’s trademark wit and imagination and will be adored by anyone aged 8-108. Brimming with knights, dragons, abominable snowmen and even more abominable crooks, they are a joy to read and share with young readers. We can’t wait to introduce Terry’s genius to a whole new generation of future fans.’
RHCP will also be publishing a collector’s special edition of DRAGONS AT CRUMBLING CASTLE with extra content in November.
About DRAGONS AT CRUMBLING CASTLE:
Aged seventeen, Terry Pratchett began work as a journalist for the Bucks Free Press. As well as covering news articles, he began writing short stories under the pseudonym ‘Uncle Jim’; as he later recalled, ‘Nobody wanted to do the children’s corner so I volunteered. I would do little children’s stories, one-offs and running narratives.’
Published together for the first time with over a hundred full-page black-and-white illustrations from Mark Beech, this is a book to make children laugh and introduce them to the wit and magic of Terry Pratchett. And the discerning Discworld reader will discover in each of these stories ideas which Terry developed elsewhere in his later novels.
About TERRY PRATCHETT:
Sir Terry Pratchett is a superb satirist who has been compared to Jonathan Swift and described as the Dickens of the twentieth century. He is one of today’s most popular and successful authors, creator of the phenomenally successful Discworld series which has enjoyed global sales of over 80 million copies, and been translated into 37 languages. He was knighted in 2009 for services to literature. His first junior Discworld novel, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, was awarded the Carnegie Medal, and Nation was shortlisted for the same prize. Several of his works have been adapted for television.