Inkpop Blog

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Inside the Mind of Terry Pratchett

Posted by inkpopbecki on September 17, 2010

We’re so fortunate to have Terry Pratchett on inkpop today talking about his new work I Shall Wear Midnight. If you’re interested in winning a free copy of I Shall Wear Midnight as well as other HarperTeen titles, enter the I Shall Wear Midnight Writing Challenge.


Q: You’re best known for writing satires. How do you choose a subject to satirize? What does it take to make such a topic funny and relevant?

A: I was interviewed about I Shall Wear Midnight, and the journalist said, “But it’s all real, once you take away the broomsticks and the Feegles.” She was probably right. I think the best fantasy is built on a skeleton of reality, so that even if it is in theory about a bunch of goblins it nevertheless has something which resonates with the “real” world.

Q: You are also known to be quite prolific. What does an author have to do to maintain a pace such as yours?

Work until they’ve ruined their health  . I can barely use my right hand now, because of arthritis brought on I’m sure, over three decades of massive booksigning.

Less flippantly, it is a trade and so you start off as an apprentice to every other writer there has ever been. By the time I was fourteen years old I had read every copy of a magazine called Punch, which was published in England between about 1840 into the late 1960s. Throughout that period it was the leading satirical magazine, and every writer in the English language wrote for it a sometime or other—and I’m including Americans as well, Mark Twain in particular. I read it like a locust devouring a field of grain. I was reading for enjoyment, buying secondhand copies for very little money from old bookshops. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was getting a master class in how to write humor, satire, and indeed how to write in general from the best that there were. I have read omnivorously ever since: you can always learn more, and the best thing is it’s also fun.

Q: What are some of the major differences you have found writing for an adult audience versus writing for a teen audience?

A: Sometimes I think it is more fun to write for teens, or as they are known in England “young adults,” that it is to write for people who are adult or at least have got past sixteen. It seems that one of the things I have had to learn is that kids now are not the same as kids were when I was a kid. There are plenty of books from that period still around, and they are often very good, but these days we have a whole new vocabulary, and any teen will read things in newspapers and see things on the television that we certainly would not have seen when I was their age. How you deal with this is hard to explain. There are some tough scenes in I Shall Wear Midnight, but the important thing is that they are there for areason because they present hard truths about the world. They are not there to be scary or gross, but to say “It can be like this, deal with it.” And indeed in I Shall Wear Midnight Tiffany has to deal with it. I’m coming to think therefore that the most important thing is simply to tell the truth.

I don’t know whether t makes things easier or harder that the Tiffany series is set in word that is practically Victorian, but on the whole I think that the distancing helps.

Want another chance to win a free copy of I Shall Wear Midnight? Enter the I Shall Wear Midnight GoodReads give away.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld, #38) by Terry Pratchett

I Shall Wear Midnight

by Terry Pratchett

Giveaway ends September 27, 2010.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

3 Responses to “Inside the Mind of Terry Pratchett”

  1. Safs said

    Wow, I am such a huge fan of Terry Pratchett! I hope he’s going to do a live-author chat. The discworld’s are the funniest books I’ve ever read, I especially liked Going Postal and Making Money. I wowed all my classmates with my knowledge of economics that was based solely on a Pratchett book. I hope Moist Von Lipwig is making a return in this book!

  2. Tiny1 said

    I love the Tiffany series – and the entire discworld series. But the book give away is only avaliable for the US? What about England and Austrailia? (and any other countries I haven’t thought of)
    I really want that book! 0_o

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