City Reads marks my first taste of Brighton’s cultural life. And what better introduction than Sir Terry Pratchett – a living literary legend who walks both the Disc and sphere worlds. The crowd seeps in to a flurry of fiddles and an accordion. Men and women representing all generations, from all walks of life filter in and, as the auditorium fills (to the brim, I might add), you can sense the electricity in our expectation.
In struts Terry, to an enthusiastic and heartfelt applause, sporting a black cowboy hat and looking very dapper in a navy and white pinstriped suit jacked. The ‘…and friends’ which accompany the author on stage are Rob Wilkins and Rod Brown from production company, Narrativia.
So where does he get his wonderful ideas from and how does his brilliant mind work? I’m sorry but I can’t tell you. For aspiring writers looking for guidance, I know that’s a kick in the guts – but for Terry, his characters ‘just turn up’. He sits and doodles in his head and as he begins to carve out a good story in his imagination, he knows words will follow. Where does the magic come from? He doesn’t know. But he talks about the ‘dark mirror’ in his mind; the kaleidoscope-esque looking glass which allows him to turn the inspiration of real life into an array of miraculous imaginings.
Sir Terry once described the writing process as follows;
“it’s like you’ve got a hand-glider on your back, and you’re looking out to the horizon, you can see where you’ve got to go, and as you run down the hill, and as the wind whips your hair and lifts your wings, up you soar into free flight…”
Aside from those brief summaries, the flow of the conversation is pretty hard to keep up with; it chops and changes direction with every other sentence. The talk meanders around various points of focus. The unruly interview style perhaps reflects the fact that the interviewee in question possesses an incredible imagination, one which cannot (and shouldn’t ever) be tamed.
As one might expect, there are a few plugs hidden in the otherwise obscure content of the talk, but the trio do reveal a few secrets that will no doubt appeal to the Pratchett-fanatics out there (and did appeal to the ones within the Dome – there were lots of ‘whoops’). We got to hear an exclusive reading of his new novel ‘Raising Steam’ due for release in November. And when the ‘in conversation with’ turned more into a production meeting, subsequently and accidentally transforming us into flies in the aisles, we discovered that Narrativia are currentlydeveloping Dodger. So keep an eye out! And – because I know there will be a lot of you out there that care – how is he?
“I’m happy and I’m going to keep on going… I’m just gonna keep going until a certain someone turns up… I have no fear of dying. And when you have no fear of dying, the world is your mollusc…”
As one member of the audience cried out – “Terry Pratchett, we love you!”. Sir TP is well loved and that was certainly evident in both the reception as he walked on stage and the standing ovation which closed the event.