Wednesday, 18 April 2012

P is for Pratchett

Welcome to letter P in my A-Z series "26 Things that Made Me a Writer".

Terry Pratchett is far and away my favourite author. The first book of his I read was Truckers in 1989, at the age of eight. Since that time I have eagerly devoured every new novel that's been released, Discworld or not. 23 years is a long time to continuously read one author, so how did this obsession develop and how has he influenced me as a writer?

I think the main thing with Terry's books is they have so many layers. His popularity is staggering, with 70 million books sold worldwide, and according to Wikipedia he is "the second most-read writer in the UK, and seventh most-read non-US author in the US". Yet many still dismiss his books as "just" fantasy. They are so much more than that. Fantasy isn't even my main genre and I am no authority on the subject. His books are led by believable characters with traits that we recognise in ourselves and others, although they may be wizards, witches, trolls, dwarfs, zombies, vampires, werewolves, or even an orangutan. Lots of these characters have been developed over the course of many novels (Death being an excellent example), yet at the same time any book can picked up and enjoyed as a standalone read.

So there's the fact that his books are story-based with characters who have human foibles like greed, cowardice, idealism and bigotry. What may be less well known is that his stories address issues such as racism, warfare and capitalism, by using his world to mirror our own. Except on the Discworld it's refracted in issues such as "speciesism" with minority groups such as vampires trying to fit in and be accepted in society.

Another key thing in the books is Terry's razor-sharp wit; his comic timing, in dialogue particularly, is genius. And there are constant references to movies, books, myths and customs that exist on our world. I don't think anyone could catch them all, but if one passes you by then it won't make any difference to the story.

In terms of influence, I don't think what I write is similar to his stuff, but I'm definitely inspired by his ability as a storyteller and the richness of his work, and I would love to be able to produce something that was on that level.

I could go on and on, but instead I'll just recommend, if you've never read any of his books, to go to his Goodreads page and give one a go. You could choose based on the title or cover, if you like; they're all good. Just one, for me? Pretty please? :)

Do you like Terry Pratchett? Any other "P" authors to recommend?


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Hi Nick!

Yes, we've had Pratchett's books in our house, believe it or not! My son enjoys fantasy and I'd done a little research and kept running across rave reviews of the gentleman's books. Now I need to read some...thanks for the reminder!

Kyra Lennon said...

I think I am an insult to all writers because I have never read a Terry Pratchett book! I should really do something about that!

Elise Fallson said...

Could you recommend a specific one for me?? (:

kjmckendry said...

I've never read any of his books. I'll have to pick one up. Thanks for introducing me to him. :)

triles said...

Wow, this guy has sold a ton of books, and I've never heard of him. Your post has me interested; I'll be sure to check him out.

Mark said...

I've been meaning to read more of his stuff, guess I better get to it:)

Cortney Pearson said...

I'm like Kyra--I've never heard of him before, is that awful? He sounds amazing though--I'll look him up!! Btw, I tagged you on my blog!! :D

Mina Burrows said...

I'm embarrassed to admit I've never read him. Thanks for the nudge. :)

DL Hammons said...

I've heard of Terry, but never read any of him. Fantasy is not really in my wheel-house though. :)

Laura said...

Love Mr Pratchett! He is responsible for me doing my third-form three hour geography test in ten minutes so that I could spend the rest of the time finishing Small Gods!

Laura x

Carrie Butler said...

I love Pratchett! My favorite character of his is DEATH. :)

Susan Oloier said...

Oh no. I've never read anything by Terry Pratchett. If it's any consolation, my head is down right now.
But your post tells me I definitely have to give him a go.

Nick Wilford said...

Elizabeth - There are quite a few murder mysteries in the Discworld series (eg in the Night Watch strand). You might enjoy them! Men at Arms would be a good pick.

Kyra - You won't regret it! Don't feel like that - there's so many great authors I haven't read! I feel you like YA from your blog entries. He actually does a decent job in that genre! Check out the "younger" Discworld Tiffany Aching novels from The Wee Free Men onwards. I think you'll like them.

Elise - I always find it hard to pick ones out (there are about 40 Discworld books alone), but the early ones would be good to start off. They're shorter and will get you hooked in. Try Mort, or Wyrd Sisters.

Kathy - No problem! :)

Tim - Glad I could help. :)

Mark - Enjoy your reading!

Cortney - Ah, I'll forgive you. Thanks for the tag! :)

Mina - No worries!

DL - It's not just for fantasy fans - Terry's humour appeals across the board.

Laura - A 3 hour test in 10 minutes?! Whoa! I can understand though - Small Gods is one of my faves for sure. Very deep... I could read it over and over.

Carrie - Another convert! Death is so endearing, isn't he? :)

Susan - Go for it! Hope you enjoy.

Shelley Sly said...

I've never read Terry Pratchett's books, but I've heard great things. Will have to check them out sometime.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I love Pratchett's Trucker series. Absolutely brilliant!

Golden Eagle said...

Absolutely. I hosted a Terry Pratchett Month last year and I had a blast reading several of his books (and watching the movie of The Colour of Magic) for it. :)

The Golden Eagle
The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

Mel said...

I've heard wonderful things about Pratchett's writing but have yet to read one of his books. Perhaps I should move them further up on my To-Read list :)

Nick Wilford said...

Shelley - Hope you like them.

Lynda - It certainly got me hooked! Have you heard there is meant to be a film in development directed by Danny Boyle?

Golden - I wish I'd been around for that, sounds like fun! I was a bit let down by the adaptation of The Colour of Magic, but the most recent film, Going Postal, was a vast improvement.

Mel - Hope you get to them. So many books I need to get round to reading!

Chuck said...

Never heard of him but he sounds interesting...I will def check him out.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick .. I've tried one of his books - but couldn't get to grips with it .. one day I'll give another a go - perhaps I'm older and wiser now?!

He's stimulated many a writer .. and is much admired, especially with his philanthropy towards alzheimers (which he suffers from).

Cheers Hilary

Tatiana said...

Found you through the a to z challenge. So pleased to find your blog!

My husband and I are HUGE Pratchett fans. For different reasons. My husband loves the Universe building and I love his use of language.

Nick Wilford said...

Chuck - Thanks!

Hilary - He's not my wife's cup of tea either - but each to their own!

It's amazing how he has managed to keep working despite his illness. What an inspiration.

Tatiana - Nice to find another couple of fans - I get irrationally excited if I see any mention of Pratchett on a blog, it's sad I know.

I love him for those reasons and also the character development and the humour.

Lauren said...

I do love Terry Pratchett, but I find his YA books rather boring.

Nick Wilford said...

Lauren - Have you read the Johnny Maxwell novels? They're full of action and very funny.