TERRY PRATCHETT

cre­ative legacy is in safe hands. Rob Wilkins, his friend and busi­ness man­ager, gives Jonathan Wright the low­down on books, TV shows and films in the pipe­line…

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - Terry Pratchett’s

How his legacy goes on.

Three hats hang on a stand in what used to be Sir Terry Pratchett’s Wilt­shire of­fice. A bowler, a top hat and his sig­na­ture fe­dora. A lit­tle over a year on from the writer’s death, the black hats he would don to show he was in pro­fes­sional au­thor mode are still im­por­tant. “If I get in­vited to a con­ven­tion or any pub­lic event, one step ahead of me will al­ways be Terry, and I per­son­ify that [by tak­ing] Terry’s hat,” ex­plains Rob Wilkins, Pratchett’s friend and busi­ness man­ager.

To judge by the num­ber of Pratchett-re­lated projects on the slate, the hats may be called into ac­tion of­ten in the years ahead. Books, TV shows and movies are all in the pipe­line – and those are just the projects Wilkins is pre­pared to talk about pub­licly, the ones an­nounced at April’s glo­ri­ous memo­rial at the Bar­bican.

Over­see­ing these projects is a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity and it’s not one Wilkins takes lightly. It was, he says, an “epiphany” to one day wake up and re­alise the most im­por­tant thing Nar­ra­tivia, the TV and film com­pany that holds the rights to Pratchett’s books, can do is “to say ‘no’ and to say ‘no’ with con­vic­tion” when things aren’t right.

In a sim­i­lar vein, there re­ally won’t be any fur­ther Dis­c­world books by other authors, al­though Wilkins has notes on 10 ideas for books that would have been writ­ten had Pratchett been granted more years – in­clud­ing Clang!, a tale of cam­panol­ogy and a city un­der siege.

Even that ti­tle is pos­si­bly more than Wilkins meant to re­veal, so let’s stick with what def­i­nitely lies ahead. As Pratchett wrote in Go­ing Postal, “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spo­ken?” There’s plenty to en­sure his name con­tin­ues to be spo­ken…

There’s a ro­mance to this that is un­avoid­able, and it is go­ing to be bril­liant

TERRY PRATCHETT: THE BI­OG­RA­PHY

In his fi­nal years, Pratchett be­gan to write what he orig­i­nally hoped would be an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, but which will now be com­pleted by Wilkins. Pratchett was able to work on the project de­spite the “em­bug­ger­ance” of his Alzheimer’s be­cause the con­di­tion af­fected his short-term mem­ory far more badly than, for in­stance, his mem­o­ries of child­hood.

Wilkins’ voice will take over in “telling the story of the pub­lic Terry”, but he won’t com­mit to a date: “I don’t want to be con­strained by ‘it’s go­ing to be pub­lished this christ­mas’, or even for next Easter. It’s got to be right above any­thing else be­cause it’s Terry’s story and the fam­ily have en­trusted me to tell that story.”

TERRY PRATCHETT: THE DOC­U­MEN­TARY

In ad­di­tion to the print bi­og­ra­phy, the BBc will also tell the story of Pratchett’s life. char­lie Russell, who helmed the Pratchett-fronted films Liv­ing With Alzheimer’s, Choos­ing To Die and Fac­ing Ex­tinc­tion is again di­rect­ing. He filmed at the memo­rial event, he’s al­ready in­ter­viewed Neil gaiman, and there will be footage of Pratchett talk­ing about his life. For Wilkins, it’s key that he trusts Russell, and so did Pratchett: “If you do some­thing that makes you look an id­iot, well, you’ve got to live with it but he’s not out to film that, he’s out to film the story.”

It may be an un­con­ven­tional film: “I’ve got an idea it’s go­ing to be slightly cra­zier than what we’ve achieved be­fore…” Ex­pect trans­mis­sion early next year.

GOOD OMENS: THE TV SERIES

The multi-part adap­ta­tion of Pratchett’s best-loved non-Dis­c­world novel, an Ome­nesque com­edy, is be­ing writ­ten by – who else? – its co-au­thor, Neil gaiman. Not that gaiman ini­tially agreed to script the series. That’s es­sen­tially be­cause both men al­ways saw it as some­thing they worked on to­gether.

gaiman’s agree­ment fol­lowed one of his fi­nal trips to Wilt­shire to see Pratchett. Driv­ing gaiman back to the train sta­tion, Wilkins had a cheeky word: “Neil, Good Omens needs some­body who loves the book as much as you and Terry.” gaiman’s ini­tial re­sponse was, “I couldn’t do it, couldn’t do it, couldn’t do it.” Ex­changes of emails fol­lowed and “even­tu­ally Neil said, ‘Do you know what, I’ll do it. I’ll do it for Terry’”. It’s go­ing well. Wilkins: “I’m say­ing this to you as fan­boy Rob, it’s awe­some!”

THE WATCH: THE TV SERIES

Sev­eral years back, Terry Pratchett came to the SFX of­fices to an­nounce that a po­lice pro­ce­dural fea­tur­ing com­man­der Sam Vimes and the Ankh-mor­pork city Watch was in pro­duc­tion. “He an­nounced it be­cause he wanted it to hap­pen in his life­time,” says Wilkins. “He wanted to have that red car­pet mo­ment or the big Satur­day show.” Since then… noth­ing. Well, so it might seem.

In fact, says Wilkins, a series that mixes new ma­te­rial in with the story arc that be­gins with Guards! Guards! is still grad­u­ally tak­ing shape. “The process is re­ally slow, but then you talk to our lawyers and they say, ‘It’s TV, it takes fourto-eight years, re­lax, re­lax into this process.’”

THE WEE FREE MEN: THE MOVIE

There is go­ing to be a big an­nounce­ment about this project at San Diego comic con in July, but one thing we al­ready know is that Pratchett’s daugh­ter, Rhi­anna, has writ­ten the screen­play of a novel that tells of a young witch find­ing her place in the world.

“She gave the first treat­ment to Terry for what be­came his fi­nal fa­ther’s day present,” says Wilkins. “She wrapped it up in a rib­bon and then read it to him cover-to-cover, hu­mor­ous ac­cents in­cluded, and then later she sub­mit­ted the first draft of the script on what would have been his 68th birth­day. There’s a ro­mance to this that is un­avoid­able, and it is go­ing to be bril­liant, and to say that she wants to get it right is an un­der­state­ment. She wants it to be more per­fect than any­body else could’ve done it.”

MORT: THE MOVIE

Blame down­ing a Bloody mary, but when Wilkins met Mort scriptwriter Terry Ros­sio (Shrek, Pi­rates Of The Caribbean) at an Ital­ian restau­rant in Hol­ly­wood, he took it upon him­self to of­fer the writer some ad­vice: the first few pages of Mort, the story of Death’s ap­pren­tice, tell you ev­ery­thing you need to know about the char­ac­ter, they weren’t to be messed with.

Wilkins: “He says, ‘Okay, Rob, but how about this?’ and as long as I live I will never for­get this. Over the next five min­utes, he plays di­rectly into my head, how the open­ing se­quence of Mort should be.” Ros­sio, says Wilkins, has cap­tured the essence of these pages, but done it cin­e­mat­i­cally. “It was so per­fect, so per­fect the spaghetti’s fall­ing off my fork. And he got to the end of it and he said, ‘How about that?’ Bril­liant! The man is a ge­nius and I never use that word lightly.”

THE LONG COS­MOS

The fi­nal novel in the five-book par­al­lel Earth se­quence that be­gan with The Long Earth is out in late June (and re­viewed on p108). It’s based on a story arc Pratchett worked out with his co-au­thor, Stephen Bax­ter, in con­ver­sa­tion aided by “a lot of glug­ging”. Wilkins: “The me­chan­i­cal writ­ing by the end is Steve, but the ideas are still shared be­tween them.”

And we re­ally shouldn’t un­der­es­ti­mate Bax­ter’s cre­ative con­tri­bu­tion. He would “dig his heels in” if he thought some­thing didn’t work. “He and Terry got on very, very well. They had their mo­ments, but the best thing about ar­gu­ing with Terry was you’re not ar­gu­ing about, ‘This cup of tea’s gone cold,’ or some­thing like that, it’s not the inane stuff, it’s ar­gu­ing about spe­cific plot points. The stuff that re­ally mat­ters.”

THE DIS­C­WORLD COLOUR­ING BOOK

No, we weren’t that ex­cited, and then Wilkins showed us proofs of a book cre­ated by Paul kidby that recre­ates his il­lus­tra­tions. We were im­pressed. “The de­tail is phe­nom­e­nal. Jonathan [SFX] is look­ing at [a line draw­ing of ] the grumpy li­brar­ian sit­ting at his desk with the Mon­ster Fun Gri­moire in front of him – 60 hours con­vert­ing that from colour. From what I gather, peo­ple are pre-or­der­ing at least two copies; one to colour and one to keep pris­tine.”

THE DIS­C­WORLD EN­CY­CLO­PE­DIA

Ex­pect sev­eral vol­umes, prob­a­bly be­gin­ning with one de­voted to Death/death: “It’s what Terry wanted at the end of Dis­c­world, think­ing he would have re­tired from the nov­els. He never would have re­tired from the nov­els. I al­ways said to him, ‘What do you think you might do in your re­tire­ment?’ He said, ‘Oh, I don’t know, peo­ple al­ways say that every­body’s got a novel in them, I might tinker.’”

Terry Pratchett with Stephen Bax­ter, and the first of their co-writ­ten nov­els.

Sir Terry cel­e­brat­ing City Watch plans with pro­ducer Rod Brown.

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