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29 October 2014
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Terry Pratchett in conversation
Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett
BBC Wiltshire caught up with Terry Pratchett at the Swindon Festival of Literature for a chat about his favourite characters and the inspiration for his latest book 'The Wee Free Men'.
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audio Listen to the complete Terry Pratchett interview (dur 5 minutes)
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FACTS

Terry Pratchett was born on 28 April 1948 in Beaconsfield, Bucks.

His first novel, The Carpet People was published when he was only 20.

The Discworld novels have been translated in 21 languages and have sold over 10 million copies world-wide.

Each new Discworld title sells in excess of 400,000 paperbacks and 100,000 hardbacks in the UK.

Terry is also reputed to be the most shoplifted author in Britain.

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In terms of book sales 'Pratchett' can only be defined as the UK's most prolific, best-selling author of the last decade.

To his fans, 'Pratchett' means to sign anything that he can get his hands on - including a workstation once dragged in by a persistent fan.

’Entering and Pratchetting" is to break in to people's houses and sign their books," says Terry.

But what does it mean to him?

"To Pratchett – I think to live in good health for 150 years."

Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett at the Swindon Festival of Literature 2002.
With his last 20 or so books being number one best-sellers and with multi-million sales Terry Pratchett seems to be living up to his name.

Educated at High Wycombe Technical High School, and with frequent trips to The Beaconsfield Public Library, Terry was writing by the age of 13 and published commercially by the age of 15.

A few years later his first book 'The Carpet People' was in print. His debut book follows the adventures of the little people living in the hall carpet and their struggle to escape the dreaded scourge – fray.

It was the first of Terry’s alternative universes.

Discworld, however, has been the fantasy world that has had fans clamouring for more.

The Discworld novels have been translated into 21 languages and have sold over 10 million copies worldwide

With over 25 books (at the time of writing) in the series and the next one due out at the end of the year the popularity of the books seems unflagging.

With the bizarre and diverse characters populating Discworld surely there must be one with more than a passing 'Pratchettesque' quality? Vimes for instance?

One of the Discworld books 'The Last Hero'.
One of The Disc World books 'The Last Hero'.
"Well no because they’re fictional - I’m real, well actually they’re nearly fictional and I’m nearly real," says Terry.

He does however have his favourites:

"The Characters I enjoy writing are people like Granny Weatherwax, Commander Vimes and Susan because they’re screwed up characters and that gives them depth and that makes them more fun.

"They’re not necessarily the characters the readers like but they give a book some kind of bulk because they’re more than two-dimensional."

Although not identifying with any specific character he says that they do speak for him.

But once created are his characters ever rebellious and outside his control:

"Outside my control but not in control of the narrative," he says "in other words they don’t act in a way that is contrary to their natures.

"If you wind them up properly you can set them walking and they’re going in the right sort of direction. Which may not be the one that you initially planned."

Several years ago Terry and his wife Lyn moved to a manor house in the depths of South Wiltshire.

Surrounded by the rolling chalkland of Salisbury Plain, has a little bit of the Wiltshire countryside crept into the back drop of his books:

"I do like walking up on the downs. You can get a special kind of silence, which is quite a noisy silence, but it’s silence with texture.

"The book I’m working on at the moment which is called 'The Wee Free Men' is set on chalkland on Discworld. It’s a Discworld book but a lot of the mythology of the chalklands and the feeling of the chalklands and some of the mythology and folklore of the chalklands is built into it."

'The Wee Free Men', scheduled to be released in May 2003 is another Discworld children's novel and promises to be a classic fairy story.

Terry once said that being asked why he wrote made as much sense as being asked ‘What noise does yellow make?'

Now he says he has an answer:

"What noise does yellow make? Actually curiously enough I think I could probably tell you what noise yellow makes.

"Because of the way humans think about things there are nuances - in the same way that you instinctively know."

I think that answers that then.


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