Interview with Sir Terry Pratchett


The second day of the World Fantasy Convention 2013 had a major treat – an interview with Guest of Honour, Sir Terry Pratchett. Half the time was allotted to a discussion of work currently under way or about to be announced, and half was a reading from the now-released Rising Steam. I’m not going to regurgitate that, partly because the book’s now on sale so you can go buy a copy if you’re interested, and partly because I can’t take down dictation fast enough to have recorded the whole reading. So instead here’s a list of the news-worthy points:

  • At the beginning of the interview Sir Terry was presented with an award granting the title of Grand Master by the President of the European Science Fiction Society. This is apparently their greatest accolade.
  • The Watch is being turned into a TV series by the BBC, co-written by Guy Burke and Rihanna Pratchett (Sir Terry’s daughter).
  • Rihanna Pratchett is also currently working on the next in the Wee Free Men series. I got the distinct impression, from the way he talked about it, that if she didn’t do a quality job her dad would have no qualms about taking the project off her.
  • Mort and The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents are both currently in film production with Sir Terry’s own production company, Narrativia.
  • Sir Terry and Neil Gaiman are currently working on another collaboration – their first since Good Omens. Public announcements on this can apparently be expected shortly.
  • A CD of music based on Wintersmith – a collaboration between Sir Terry and Steeleye Span – came out on Monday 28th October. Apparently ‘Making of a Man’ is Sir Terry’s favourite track. There’s a YouTube trailer, including words from Sir Terry, here.
  • There’s a folder on Sir Terry’s hard drive called The Pit, which is full of random bits and pieces. His assistant is under strict instructions to destroy it when Sir Terry dies. He calls it ‘the recyclable school of literature’, and that’s where the ‘Hunt the Megapode’ scene from the beginning of Unseen Academicals came from.
  • Sir Terry has two pet chickens – Biggles and Houdini – and three pet tortoises – Mr. Big, Masher and Big Spotty.

Before going into the reading from Raising Steam, there was a brief conversation about the story and particularly its technology. According to Sir Terry, technology in fantasy ‘has to be real’. He spent some time figuring out how to make steam power work in the Discworld, and what the ramifications would be. Steam power is a technological line in the sand and, if he’d done it earlier, it would have meant he couldn’t have explored other things. By doing it now, it may be that he’s cut off avenues even as he opens up others.

Sir Terry’s assistant read the opening passages, which deal with the early development of steam power in the Discworld by a young man with a Yorkshire accent. Sir Terry’s assistant can’t do Yorkshire accents (he freely admitted this). It transpires that, when said in a bad Yorkshire accent, the word ‘prototype’ sounds utterly hilarious.


2 responses »

  1. I’ve got an audiobook of Raising Steam and Prototype still sounds hilarious when said in a hopefully less bad (But still pretty bad) Yorkshire Accent.

    Great to hear there’ll be more films and the Watch sound perfect for a TV Series. Police procedurals are a pretty tried and true formula

  2. I think that’s a really interesting point about technology – anything you add into your stories also takes away some other options, if only because of the restrictions it lifts from the characters.

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