The L-Space Web: Interviews

Wyrd and Wonderful
The Young Telegraph No.345 May 17 1997


Provided by Iwan Lamble (iwan@lamble.demon.co.uk).

Wyrd and Wonderful

Author Terry Pratchett takes us to a land far, far away...

Have you ever been to Discworld? This magical land travels through space on the back of four elephants, who stand on a giant turtle! Author Terry Pratchett created this potty place and has written 20 novels about its inhabitants. Now one of these riotous read, Wyrd Sisters - a tale of three witches and a murderous king [sic] - has been turned into a new animated series. Starting on Channel 4 tomorrow, now's the perfect time to take a trip to Terry's territory.

Terry, how would you describe the animated version of Wyrd Sisters?

A feast of fun for all the family! The animation is incredible. I was shown several versions of one episode and the just kept getting better and better. A lot of effort has gone into it. When a character takes a deep breath, it's so lifelike it makes me cheer out loud.

Did you decide how the characters should look?

I had several discussions with the animators about the clothes the characters should wear - but it was mostly a case of fine-tuning. We talked a lot about Granny Weatherwax's boots which should look like they came from a Victorian farm. In fact, she looks like a cross between a 19th century farm worker and Clint Eastwood's nanny!

Why aren't the Discworld books divided into chapters?

I don't think in chapters - I can't understand why they are required. As far as I can see their only purpose is so that people reading at night can say, 'I'll read to the end of the chapter and turn the light off!' You can turn the light off whenever you like - that's what bookmarks are for.

But when I'm writing books for children, I use chapters. I go back through the finished text, decide how many chapters I'm going to use, then find suitable places for them.

Do you ever base your characters on people you know?

A couple are based on people I used to know, who are now dead. But most of the characters are based on recognisable types of people. Readers from all over the country write to me saying, 'You must have met so-and- so - she's exactly like Granny Weatherwax.' I haven't, but they insist I have. It seems that people are very keen to appear as characters in my books!

How long does it take you to write a Discworld novel?

About five or six months. But while I'm writing one, the last one is being edited and I'm planning the next one in my head. I always do a lot of re-writing, and then spend about two months going back to fill in the gaps. Nobody would want to read one of my first drafts!

Do you get a lot of letters?

I recently went to Australia and when I came back it took me a week to go through the mail! I used to answer every single one, but I just don't have the time any more. Emails are easier - it doesn't take any time to hammer away at they keyboard and press 'send'. But at the end of the year, my text file for letters I've written is always twice as big as my text file for my books!

What do you enjoy reading?

These days I usually read books about history and science. I only seem to read fiction when I'm on aeroplanes. I think I've read so much fiction that by the time I've got to page 16, I've worked out how the book is going to end!

Sounds Familiar

Lots of famous faces have lent their voices to Wyrd Sisters. Jane Horrocks, Les Dennis, June Whitfield and horror king Christopher Lee are some of the names involved - how many more will you recognise?

Here's Johnny!

You might think creating Discworld would take up all Terry's time - but you'd be wrong! He's written loads of other brilliant books, including a trio of titles about a young hero, Johnny Maxwell. Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead and Johnny and the Bomb will have you gripped one minute and giggling the next.


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