Tuesday 7 September 2010

Author Signing: Terry Pratchett - 1st September 2010

When Clare from RHCB sent me an email about a London signing with Terry Pratchett for his newest book I Shall Wear Midnight I knew I had to go.  My Dad & I have been massive Terry Pratchett fans for about 15 years now so I got our tickets as soon as they went on sale.  I absolutely love the Tiffany Aching series - The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith and the final book I Shall Wear Midnight (click on the links to read my reviews) - Tiffany and The Nac Mac Feegles are some of my favorite characters in the Discworld series.

The event started at 11pm but as we weren't too sure where we were going & how easy parking would be we left home at about 8:20pm.  I'm glad my Dad offered to drive & that we had sat nav as I don't think we would have made it through London otherwise but in the end we had quite an easy journey & managed to get parked less than 5 minutes away from Waterstone's.  We were there early so had time to browse in Waterstone's before it closed (both of us were very restrained & didn't buy anything though!) and I was able to say a quick hello to Clare & Corinne from RHCB.

The contents of my goodie bag

We joined the queue outside just before 10pm and were obviously just in time as there were only 7 people in front of us & it didn't take long before there were loads of people in line behind us! We were allowed into Waterstone's at about 10:30pm & handed a lovely goodie bag with our copy of I Shall Wear Midnight, a pen and a badge. Lauren from RHCB was handing out drinks, I'm not a wine drinker so I was happy with water but Dad had a nice glass of red. Dad stopped to write down a couple of questions for Terry so by the time I'd found him again & encouraged him to hurry up we ended up further back than I was hoping considering how close we had been to the front of the queue.

As the shop is long and narrow we ended up with quite a few people in front of us & didn't have a fantastic view but we were still a lot closer than most of the people there.  They had arranged chairs on the stage for Terry and Tony but they did the whole interview standing up to give people near the front a better view.  I thought this was very nice of them as we wouldn't have been able to see them from where we were standing otherwise.  It wasn't easy to get good photos as we weren't allowed to use the flash but I managed to get a couple that weren't too bad, especially when we got to the front to get our books signed.

Dad with his copy of I Shall Wear Midnight

Before the signing Tony Robinson (best known for presenting Time Team and for playing Baldrick in the Blackadder TV series) interviewed Terry Pratchett.  You could tell they are good friends and they bantered really well together - I really enjoyed listening to them talking.  I can't hope to capture the humor of their conversation or tell you everything they mentioned in their 45 minute chat but I'll bullet point a few of the things they talked about that stuck in my mind (any mistakes in the list are due to my poor memory but I've done my best to get things right!).

Tony Robinson & Terry Pratchett
  • The book that Terry would like to be remembered for is Nation (I loved this book, you can read my review here).  He thinks that this is the best book he has ever written but he said his best writing is in his children's books.  He believes that this is because he has to think about things in more detail to make sure children will be able to understand them.
  • When asked at what point in his career he started his best writing he said that he is expecting that to happen sometime within the next year.  I think he was just making the point that there is always room for improvement and I really do think that his books get better with every new release.
  • What is the difference between his adult and YA Discworld books?  The advance - he earns more for the adult books but enjoys writing both.
  • I Shall Wear Midnight is the last book in the Tiffany Aching Series but he did say that Tiffany will probably be making appearances in future Discworld books.
  • His favorite characters to write are Vimes and Tiffany who both seem to write themselves.
  • When asked which character was most like him Terry wished he could say Vimes but said he would probably have to go with Rincewind.
  • Where do the victims of the luggage end up?  Elsewhere
  • Advice Terry's older self would give to his younger self would be to have more sex while you can!  A more child friendly answer would be to start his writing career earlier but he doesn't regret the way his career has turned out.  He worked as a journalist for years which allowed him to see people with their trousers down (& I'm guessing gave him lots of details for his writing).  Journalism taught him how to both listen and talk to people which improved his skills as a writer.
  • When asked what books he would recommend Terry confirmed that he doesn't tend to read fiction often any more as he has both read & written so much of it over the years.  He reads more non-fiction books these days and often finds they will give him the beginnings of a story.  One he mentioned was about moving blocks of ice across North America in the 70's and from the way he was talking I wouldn't be surprised to see this appear in a future story.
  • Asked if he was a precocious child Terry wasn't able to say but he did mention that growing up as an only child his mother spent a lot of time talking to him which he thinks had an important impact in his life.  He did grow up with a group of neighbourhood friends his age & remembers their parents organising measles parties whenever one of them was ill to make sure they all caught it at the same time & got it over with.
  • Although he has been happy with all of the TV adaptations for the Discworld series Going Postal is his favorite - it had a bigger budget so they were able to spend more money on the little background details like posters.
  • Terry explained that he doesn't tend to plot the story for his books in advance, he lets the story evolve as he's writing and sees where the characters will take him.  He often doesn't know what the ending will be until he actually starts writing it.
  • I was very excited when Terry mentioned that he is currently writing his next adult Discworld novel, he did mention the name but unfortunately I can't remember what it was (I'm sure it started with the letter S though!)
Terry Pratchett

I could have listened to Terry & Tony talk for hours but the signing was due to start at midnight so they left the stage at about 11:45pm for a quick break.  When Terry re-appeared just before midnight he was ready for bed in a tartan nightgown and matching nightcap.  He posed for some press pictures before the signing started.  We were lucky to be near the front so we didn't have long to wait before getting our books signed.  With over 300 people in the queue (most of them behind us) I think the people at the back probably had a very late night!

Terry got ready for bed before signing our books in his nightgown!

After getting our books signed I had a quick chat with Clare from RHCB who asked me if I would be willing to give an interview about the event for a video they were making to go on Terry's website.  I almost ran from the building at this point - I hate having my photo taken let alone being filmed LOL - but instead I volunteered my Dad for the task.  Luckily he isn't as shy as I am & was happy to answer a few questions!

Dad giving his interview

We headed home not long after Dad gave his interview and actually made it to my house by 1:30am which is a lot earlier than I was expecting.  This was the first author signing that I've ever been to but we had a lot of fun and I'll definitely be going to more in the future.  It would have been nice if we had been able to pose for pictures with Terry but with the number of people who were there I can understand why there wasn't time.  My signed copy of I Shall Wear Midnight will definitely be taking pride of place on my bookshelves though!

I'd like to say a massive thank you to both RHCB & Waterstone's for organising the event and of course to Terry & Tony for such a lovely talk.
*Update - 10th Sept*
With thanks to RHCB I've been able to post a video with footage of the event - including a snippet from Dad's interview & Terry actually signing my book!  Click here to see the video


  1. What a cool and amazing experience! And it's made even better that you could share it with your dad. I used to read the disc world series, but it's been a good 5 years since I've picked up one of his books. Looks like maybe I should begin again.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow. That sounds like an amazing night! I'm so jealous right now!

  3. Hi Sarah,

    I'm here via Terry Pratchett's page on Facebook, and just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post! It was lovely to read about the event, particularly your account of the interview (I goggled a bit at the idea of 'measles parties'. My Inner Parent and Inner Epidemiologist are currently fighting it out over whether this is a good idea - Inner Parent thinks it's jolly sensible! :P ).

    Thank you :D

  4. Hi Sarah

    I too, saw your blog mentioned on the Pratchett fan page. Thanks for the blog. Wish I could've been there. I know it was a book signing but did they mention anything about Terry's health?

  5. I'm jealous! Seriousley! He's my favourite writer! I love the guy. :) Do you know who my favourite character is? It's death! That character is sooo funny, hilarious. I loved Mort. :)

  6. @ Twimom227 - It was such a fun event & it was a great thing to do with Dad as we've enjoyed discussing Terry's books for about 15 years now LOL. If you've not read any of the Tiffany Aching books I'd definitely recommend them - I love the Nac Mac Feegles :o)

    @ Clover - It was a fab night, I hope you get to go to a similar one sometime in the future!

    @ Camilla - Thanks for stopping by, I didn't even realise the link had been put on Terry's facebook page until I saw your comment LOL. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about the event - Terry & Tony were so funny together! I thought the idea of measles parties was really funny but it does make me cringe a bit if I think about it too much!

    @ Priya - Thanks for visiting :o) They didn't really mention Terry's health but he seemed really well as he was chatting and signing. He is currently working on another Discworld book too which I'm looking forward to getting my hands on!

    @ Nina - I'm so glad you like Terry as much as I do, its funny you mention Death as he is my favorite character too LOL. Mort is a great book but I love everything with him in it :o) I hope you get a chance to meet Terry sometime as he was such a funny man to listen to. I'd definitely go to another of his signings if I get the chance!

  7. Hi Sarah! I am also here because of the Facebook fan page-- and So Glad I Am Here! I am a HUGE Terry fan-- so big in fact he was sent an invitation to our wedding last September! But I have never had the honor and the pleasure of meeting him in person. Your account of the interview is exactly how I imagine him-- funny, sincere, witty. Thank you so much for this blog entry, it really made me feel like I was there for the book release. Hopefully one day I will be able to make it to one of his events!
    Thanks again!!!

  8. Hi Milena, so nice to meet another Terry fan! I absolutely loved listening to Terry & Tony talking, he was just like I imagined he would be & I could have listened to them talking for hours :o) I hope you get a chance to meet him sometime, I know I'll definitely be trying to get tickets for any of his future signings!

  9. I was there as well, and the next book is called Snuff, and it a Vimes story

  10. Thanks Robert, I thought it began with an S but couldn't for the life in me remember the name! Hope you enjoyed the signing :o)



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