Tag Archives: Terry Pratchett

Dragons at Crumbling Castle

It was touch and go with the glacé cherries. But four hours before I learned that every house has a packet somewhere, we re-acquired a tub of cherries. Phew.

Terry Pratchett’s youthful short stories, as collected in Dragons at Crumbling Castle, just prove that he has always been what he is. Only he was younger once, but then that is an affliction we have all suffered from.

Terry Pratchett, Dragons at Crumbling Castle

I admit, I was worried that someone, somewhere was scraping the barrel, and that I’d not like this book so much. I’m sorry, I occasionally get very crazy notions. Won’t happen again.

There are Carpet People stories, and abominable snowmen and tortoises, boring knights and people who dance funny and a bus that jumps through time. And those dragons.

This is a lovely collection of stories. The illustrations by Mark Beech are quite crazy, in a Quentin Blake-ish sort of style, and I must warn you that on page 169 there is a picture of individuals wearing feather head-dresses. But then I suppose Terry isn’t running for diversity.

These stories are far too good for children. Oops, I mean for children not to share with older people. But you knew that.

Bookwitch bites #127

You know books? There is money in them. Sometimes, at least, and not only for author and publisher, although I’d wager Michael Morpurgo has made a reasonable sum from War Horse the book. Possibly more from the play and the film.

Michael Morpurgo at the Lowry

War Horse the play has just finished its second run at the Lowry, hopefully pleasing the 200,000 people who came to see it. But what’s more, it hasn’t merely earned money for Michael or the theatre. It has been estimated that Greater Manchester is better off by £15 million. And it’s pretty good that books can have such an effect.

For the last performance in Salford they had a Devon farmer as a Devon farmer extra.

Not a farmer, nor a twinkly old elf, is how Neil Gaiman doesn’t describe his friend Terry Pratchett in the Guardian this week. Terry is driven by rage, Neil claims, and I can sort of see where he’s coming from with that. I reckon Terry got pretty annoyed to hear me say that my local library service banned him from the under 16s. (Correction, it was their representative who did. Not the whole service. But still.) And any person with any decency would be furious about what’s wrong in this world. And luckily we have the non-twinkly Terry to write wonderful books about it.

Someone who scares me much more is Kevin Brooks. I know. He seems non-scary, but his books deal with people in circumstances I find hard to cope with. Kevin has just written a book for Barrington Stoke, to be published in January 2015, and it might be short, and it might be an easy read. But it’s also not an easy read, in that it deals with the hard reality for young, male, teenagers. A typical Brooks, in other words.

Barrington Stoke make books accessible to readers who would otherwise not read. Daniel Hahn was on the radio this week, talking for 13 and a half (his own description) minutes on the importance of translated books. They make books accessible to people who would otherwise not be able to read French or Finnish, or any other ‘outlandish’ language.

Daniel has also worked hard on the new Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature, to be published in March 2015. I’m looking forward to that, and hopefully this new companion will pave the way for a few more readers, too.

Whereas authors playing football will achieve exactly what? OK, let’s not be negative or anti-sports here. I did actually want to go and see the football match between English crime writers and their Scottish counterparts. It was part of Bloody Scotland last weekend, but unfortunately the match clashed with an event, and being lazy, I chose to sit down in-doors instead of standing on the side of a rectangle of grass watching grown men kick a ball around.

The winning Bloody Scotland football team - 2014

I understand the Scottish team won. Ian Rankin is looking triumphant, and I can see Craig Robertson, Christopher Brookmyre and Michael J Malone, plus some more people I don’t recognise in shorts.

Airborne books

‘Can I look in the bookshop?’ the Resident IT Consultant asked. I was tempted to say no, but gave my permission. We were at Edinburgh airport with too much time on our hands, and after using up the full Caffe Nero card which entitled him to a free drink (naturally he chose the most expensive concoction, something topped with whipped cream), he was dying to look in The Bookshop.

I looked in there myself, and they didn’t have much. Even WH Smith had more. By some coincidence we met up there after deciding to look around on our own. Neither shop stocked Into A Raging Blaze, special airport edition or not. We had both looked.

WHS had their fiction mostly arranged by numbers, a sort of books chart. We couldn’t work out whose chart, i.e. who decided, nor how to find any given book, short of looking at all of them. ‘There’s a blog there,’ said the Resident IT Consultant suddenly. I looked. ‘Where?’ I asked. I couldn’t comprehend the idea of a blog sitting anywhere on those shelves, but felt I needed to check.

Turns out he meant that the difficulty of finding a specific book could be turned into a blog post… Duh.

I had actually walked in there thinking I just might pay for a book. But only the recent fourth James Oswald novel. It’s Scottish, so maybe they’d stock it for that reason, I thought. But, no. Once I’d turned round a few more times I discovered some books arranged in the conventional alphabetical way, and there was a James Oswald book. The wrong one. Or the right one, depending on how you look at it. Not the one I was after. But for the Oswald novice it’d be good to find the first one, seeing as you mustn’t start anywhere else.

For children it was the usual suspects; The Gruffalo, David Walliams, Horrid Henry. I believe I’ve said this before. It’s excellent to find easy to read, good, fun books. But not if you’ve already read those. Then you need something more unusual.

And Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam made it to the non-fiction.

Bookwitch bites #123

C J Flood has won the Branford Boase for her first novel Infinite Sky. Congratulations!

I had so wanted to be there. But in the end common sense prevailed and I didn’t travel to London. It would have been a good time for it, apart from my moving into a new house handicap. For once it wasn’t the only thing happening, and I could have combined events. Adrian McKinty’s publisher was offering beer and sausage rolls with Adrian at their office yesterday afternoon. Not even teetotal veggie witches should be able to say no to that. Except I did.

And then I discovered Adrian was appearing at Waterstones Piccadilly the night before, in the illustrious company of Barry Forshaw, Mallock and Pete Ayrton. But in a way it was lucky I wasn’t there for that event, seeing as it started a mere 30 minutes after another event in the very same bookshop, featuring *Meg Rosoff and Marcus Sedgwick. I mean, how could a witch choose?

Trying to count myself lucky I didn’t have to.

Found this interview with Terry Pratchett about his next new book, Dragons at Crumbling Castle. If he has a favourite book, it seems to be the Tiffany Aching books, because she just gets on with things. So does Terry, of course. He might have had to cancel his Discworld appearance in Manchester, but the man is still writing, and Tiffany fans are looking forward to book number five.

Despite the shocking figures on author incomes that emerged this week, many authors do like Terry and his Tiffany, and just get on with things. Despite not earning a living wage. Despite other stuff too, no doubt. Terry obviously has no money worries, but he has another concern instead; how much time, and how many more books?

There was the news last week that food bank parcels now contain children’s books. It’s wonderful that more children will have a book to call their own, but pretty dismal that they have to rely on charity for it, not to mention that anyone in Britain should need food parcels.

*So pleased someone saw the similarities between Meg’s Picture Me Gone and Marcus’s latest YA book; American road trips involving British teenagers. Both books are fabulous, and She Is Not Invisible has just come out as a paperback. I have to admit to having handed over my copy of the latter to a teenager, because I felt the need to share this wonderful journey. Not in a food parcel as such, although there was food involved. And much talk of money.


Have you come across this?

It’s a new video clip to get people to support Dementia Friends, and it features – among others – our old friend Terry Pratchett. I have to admit I did hope he’d be singing.

But it’s rather nice as it is. And forgetful as I am, I sincerely hope people will point me in the right direction whenever I get muddled. Because I can see that happening more and more, and friends are good to have.

And let’s face it – if anyone had asked me to be in this video, would I have sung? No.

Terry Pratchett - Dementia Friends

(No) more trains

While I’m going on about trains, and seemingly finding it so easy telling you about what I’ve not done, I might as well go on.

Yesterday I didn’t travel on a steam train with Terry Pratchett.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that as soon as I heard Terry was writing a novel about trains on Discworld, my imagination started thinking ahead to what sort of launch party they could come up with for a book on trains. Even if I wasn’t invited.

But I was. Trouble was, I couldn’t go. As you may have gathered, I travelled in a northerly direction the day before, so was completely unable to attend afternoon tea on the Watercress Line, which is down south. Where most of the action is.

I adore trains. I quite like afternoon tea. And Terry Pratchett is not a bad sort. I’m hoping they had a great afternoon. (Although, no Watercress Line can be a patch on my darling Iron Girder.)

Raising Steam

I’m in love with a locomotive. Iron Girder, you are the most terrific girl!

All Terry Pratchett’s books are loveable in their own way, but I have a special fondness for ones about my kind of topics. Writing. Post Office-ing. And now trains. Raising Steam has let me experience the birth of railways, and what a wonderful feeling that is! (Death to that Beeching person. Actually, Death is too good for him.)

Instead of closing lines and getting rid of stations and services, here we have the complete and utter opposite, starting with young Dick Simnel, who knows about the sliding rule, and who saw his father die in some unexpected pink steam. He builds himself a prototype steam engine – the train kind – and goes off to Ankh-Morpork in search of, not so much his fortune, but a welcome for his beloved Iron Girder.

Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam

I’m guessing Dick is Discworld’s Yorkshireman, judging by his speech and the way he dresses. He’s lovely. Very straight. Even a scoundrel like Moist von Lipwig has to admire his honest ways. (Though I’m not sure about that smooth-talking Moist.) Eventually, seemingly all men are seduced by the steam engines Dick builds. It’s pathetic. Or would be, were they not such great things to be seduced by.

Early trainspotters are the kind who can write a 1 in their little books. The goblins totally come into themselves. I’m now dreadfully fond of these supposedly smelly little creatures. Golems. Gnomes. They all have something.

The one thing we never quite find out is how long it takes to build all these rail ways, and the engines (with facilities), branch lines and stations and towers for water and coal, and food and beds and guidebooks and everything else. It’s a wonderful world and I don’t know how anyone in their right mind could close railways!!

Not everything is fine, however. There is rebellion afoot, and there are corpses – body parts, even – and double-crossings, and if Moist doesn’t sort things out yesterday, he shouldn’t expect Vetinari to let him live.

But there are goblins, and there is Iron Girder. She knows who loves her. She’s a lady who looks after those who do. I’m very glad Terry has written a train book. I hope you are too.