"Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot."
DEDICATION: AN INTERVIEW WITH TERRY PRATCHETT
by Richard Karsmakers
I don't know when I read the first Discworld book, but it must
have been somewhere in 1989, just around the time when I started
working for Thalion software in Germany. I started with "The
Colour of Magic", of course, a book that I didn't even
particularly like due to its lack of plot and the fact that the
whole thing wasn't going anywhere in particular. It was quite
funny, though, so eventually I got to reading some more of the
stories set in this kindof fantasy universe of a flat world atop
of bunch of elephants and a giant turtle swimming through space.
As they got better and better, I got ever more hooked. Whenever
a new book by the author Terry Pratchett would be released, I'd
make sure I'd get it as soon as possible. In the mean time I
think Pratchett may very well be the wittiest author of all
times, more prolific than my previous 'hero' Douglas Adams, and
certainly actually more fun to read.
Personally, I think "Moving Pictures", "Pyramids", "Reaper Man"
and "Guards! Guards!" are some of the best he's ever done. But,
hey, that's just me.
And Terry hasn't written Discworld novels only. Although I have
to confess I haven't read too much of his other work, I did
really like the "Nome Trilogy" and "Good Omens" that he wrote
with Neil Gaiman.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, an idea stirred. It reared its
head subtlely, without my even knowing it was there. And when,
suddenly, I got Internet access and Terry Pratchett turned out to
be "on the Net", too, that idea started to grow like a seed
having falling in a stony path. It started to change, slowly,
into a tree with a hundred branches.
I would attempt to get through to Terry and attempt to interview
Numerous authors have been "on the Net" at one time or another.
Many fled it, again, due to the simple fact that fans were
sending them ever increasing amounts of mail, absorbing much too
much time. Often they reached a point at which they simply
stopped replying to messages, changing into Net Recluses. I
believe Douglas Adams is one of these, incidentally.
Terry Pratchett isn't one of them, however. Although he told me
he gets over 50 messages a day, he still finds time to reply to
most of them and even contributes regularly to the discussions
going on in the alt.fan.pratchett section of Usenet News. Until
things get too much, I suppose, when I assume he'll be visiting
Douglas for tea.
He normally didn't do interviews via emails, on account of the
usual question lists being more like quizzes than anything else.
So when I told him this issue of ST NEWS would be dedicated to
him and my wish to be able to ask him questions in some or other
way, we agreed upon a more or less interactive setup by which I'd
send him a few questions each day to which he would reply within
24 hours. I could then react to the replies and add questions in
each further message.
For about two weeks in the beginning of December we did just
that. I think, in the end, it took up more of Terry's time this
way than it would have done originally, but it did work out fine.
However...Terry is not half as verbose as I had expected him to
be. As a matter of fact, for a writer he's quite concise. But I
guess he's just a very busy man. In any case, I know I was really
lucky that he wanted to do this kind of interview in the first
Be that as it may, the results of the interview can be read
When were you born?
Terry: April 28th 1948.
Can you give us a short description of the surroundings where
you live? Its nightlife, its people?
Terry: Countryside. A rather pleasant valley. Nightlife is owls
and so on.
What do you do when you get bored at night? Play your own
private version of "Twin Peaks" - with those owls and all - or do
you frequent a particular pub, consuming particular ales and the
Terry: I seldom get bored. But there is a pretty good pub here.
Suppose I were to visit you one day. Where would you take me if
we were to spend a night "on the town"?
Terry: Probably down to the local pub, which has a large number
of real ales.
Can you give us a description of your home, most specifically
the room where you do your work?
Terry: Featureless. Discworld junk all over the place, piles of
letters all over the floor.
How would you describe your character, and what is (are) your
Terry: Does not compute. My character - and for that matter my
worst habits - could only be described by someone else. You
can't open a box with the crowbar inside it.
Maybe you could ask your wife to open the box for us?
Terry: She says I don't relax enough. Not bad, really, given
what she could have said.
Do you have any pets and, if so, what kind? Any peculiar
characteristics that, for example, may be found back in, say,
Terry: Seven assorted tortoises and turtles, five cats. *All*
cats have some of the characteristics of Greebo, but he has more
than anyone else.
What kind of computer system do you use, and which tools?
Terry: I'm writing this on a Dell 33mhz 486 with 750meg of disc,
and it's networked to other (older) machines around the house.
Although I have tried a number of "Word Perfect" versions I use
4.2 for DOS -- small, fast (for "Word Perfect") and more than
adequate for a writer. I still believe "Windows" is an elegant
way of wasting time.
If you are at all inclined to play games, which would be the one
you'd want to play most?
Terry: In the last year I have enjoyed "Doom", "Privateer", and
"Prince of Persia 2". I was very taken with the "Wing Commander"
series. In a few years time... well, I might still return to
Which book have you read *recently* that made most of an
impression on you?
Terry: "All the Trouble In the World"...I *like* P J O'Rourke.
And the same question for films, please.
Terry: "The Keep". It was recently shown on TV here.
What kind of music do you enjoy most? Is there specific music
you like for things like writing, flipping out (if ever you do),
lying in bed ill, reading?
Terry: Jim Steinman, Kitaro, Sisters of Mercy, Yello - I've got
quite wide tastes.
What is your most favourite of the four seasons?
Terry: Autumn. As if it mattered!
Who do you think is the most stunningly beautiful female to roam
Terry: Dunno. Haven't met them all.
Maybe you could tell the name of the one that could classify at
the most stunningly beautiful of those you *have* met (or seen).
Terry: Well, one of the news readers on local TV looks very
Do you play any musical instruments and, if so, which and how
Terry: Not a one. I can hold a tune and have a good memory for
lyrics, but that's all.
Do you regret the fact that you can't play an instrument? Many
people would consider it a hiatus in their development, like not
being able to dance.
Terry: What is this...Eliza? A hiatus in their development as a
dancer, maybe. I'd have liked to have learned an instrument, but
it's not a major regret.
You are connected the Internet. What would you have given a
metaphorical right arm for to have known when you started out?
Terry: How much time it would steal...
In many years, you'll die. Which music would you like to be
played at your funeral?
Terry: Oh, anything written in, say, 2057.
What is to you *the* music release of 1994?
Terry: "Bat out of Hell II" - as for everything else, I can't
stand any music that requires its singers to be so dumb they wear
their baseball caps backwards.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
Terry: Australia. Nice people, good food, sunshine, deserts, the
alien-ness of the animals and vegetation...
Is there something that you see most people around you liking a
lot, but that you hate intensely?
Terry: I would rather stare at the wall for half an hour than
watch an episode of any of the 53,801 Australian soap operas now
cluttering up UK TV.
What do you remember as the worst ever moment in your life?
Terry: It may have been when I was about 14, and had a huge row
with my headmaster over some school memorial fund that was being
arranged. Most of my schooldays were the worst day of my life.
A bit of a cliché question: What's your favourite food? And your
Terry: Probably rum and raisin ice cream, and horchata (a
Suppose you could stand in Aladdin's shoes for a while. Which
three wishes would you make?
Terry: None. I've got too much of an imagination to truck with
Is there a person that you've never met yet but would really
like to meet one day?
Terry: I honestly can't think of any great ambition in that
If you were confined to a desert island and you could only take
with you one book, five CDs and one luxury item (and a CD player,
of course), which would they be?
Terry: Book: "Practical Boatbuilding for Beginners". Item: Swiss
Army Knife. CDs: probably some easy listening stuff, like Kitaro.
What invention do you hope mankind will come up with soon?
Terry: A cheap clean energy source, probably.
Suppose some French scent artist would propose to do an
aftershave or perfume with you...what would you call it?
Terry: I'd call it grounds for legal action.
What is your ultimate ambition?
Terry: I'd like to walk on the moon (and return).
Have you got any children? Do any of them have writing
Terry: My daughter Rhianna wants to be a journalist. That's fine
You must have read a *lot* of books. Which ones are your all-
Terry: Too many to count.
What publications can we expect from you within, say, the next
year? Any collaborations?
Terry: At least one Discworld book - not sure about anything
Any titles known already?
Terry: "Interesting Times" is now out - "Maskerade", if it keeps
its working title, will be out next November.
What would you advise budding writers to do?
Terry: Some other kind of job, unlikely they think they're very,
Is it true about the carniverous plants, and why (not)?
Terry: Is what true?
That you like 'em. And why?
Terry: They're...interesting. Alien, I suppose.
You claim you're sometimes accused of literature. Would you say,
then, that it's not justified?
Terry: That was just a line in a blurb, as an antidote to those
reviewers who sometimes wax a bit too lyrical about Discworld. I
do it the best I can. What it is, is for others to decide.
Does India mean more to you than a place to get golden ideas for
Terry: I'm not sure what you mean. I'm interested in mythology
generally, but India has no special place in my heart - although
Hindu gods seem a lot more fun.
People sometimes describe your writings as those of a less
bitter version of Douglas Adams who's gone fantasy fiction. Would
you say that's correct?
Terry: I'm not a 'version' of anyone else.
Next was the "words to react to" section. Apart from the usual
words I throw in, there were occurrences of "Josh Kirby" and
"Craig Shaw Gardner" (that I had especially thought would get
some reaction). Terry's initial reaction was quite unexpected.
Terry: I found myself thinking, I get 50 messages a day and this
guy wants to play a *game*?
I consider the "words to react to" just a bunch of questions in
short. They always go down well in interviews, and give room to
highly idiosyncratic interpretations that shed a lot more light
on the interviewee's personality. To name an example, I once had
a guy react to "42" by saying the name of his favourite baseball
player with that number on his back.
Terry: The light the words shed illuminates me as a curmudgeon.
And that was it. Now you can go and look up "curmudgeon".
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.