Pratchett in conversation
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'.
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
’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."
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.
Pratchett at the Swindon Festival of Literature 2002.
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
It was the first of Terry’s alternative universes.
Discworld, however, has been the fantasy world that has had fans clamouring
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
With the bizarre and diverse characters populating Discworld surely
there must be one with more than a passing 'Pratchettesque' quality?
Vimes for instance?
no because they’re fictional - I’m real, well actually they’re nearly
fictional and I’m nearly real," says Terry.
of The Disc World books 'The Last Hero'.
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
"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
"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
'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.