A biography of Terry Pratchett written by his personal assistant Rob Wilkins, a graphic novel by Pratchett and a Discworld Encyclopedia were among the new publishing revealed at a memorial to celebrate the late author last night (14th April).
At a ceremony in Barbican Theatre attended by more than 1,000 people to honour Sir Terry, who died after battling Alzheimer’s in March last year, Wilkins also revealed Neil Gaiman would be writing an adaptation of his book with Pratchett Good Omens (Corgi) for the television screen, on Pratchett’s request.
While Transworld has not released any more details on the projects, Wilkins revealed he would be writing the biography on stage at the end of the memorial and said that Small Gods, a graphic novel from Pratchett with new artwork by Ray Friesen, will also be released, to be published on 28th July under the Doubleday imprint. A “Discworld encyclopaedia” is also in the pipeline.
A host of adaptations were also revealed. Along with Gaiman writing Good Omens for the screen in a six-episode series, the book Mort is to be made into a film by Terry Rossio, the second highest grossing screenwriter in the world behind such successes as Disney’s Aladdin, Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean, Wilkins revealed.
The Wee Free Men is also being adapted for the screen by Pratchett’s daughter, Rhianna Pratchett, with further details expected to be revealed at Comicon.
A host of entertainment was provided at the memorial, including electric guitar folk music from Steeleye Span (below) and theatrical skits, film reel highlights and touching readings from Pratchett’s friends Gaiman and actor Tony Robinson.
Wilkins in the role of presenter took the audience on a journey through Pratchett’s achievements and presented “Order of the Honey Bee” merits and tokens of gratitude to influential people in his life. These included agent Colin Smythe; artist Bernard Pearson; m.d. of Narativia Rod Brown; Malcolm Edwards; m.d. of Transworld publishers Larry Finlay; former editor Philippa Dickinson; artist Paul Kidby; writer Stephen Briggs, lecturer Dr Patrick Harkin; and University of South Australia vice-chancellor David Lloyd, whose university is the recipient of the perpetual $100,000 Sir Terry Pratchett Memorial Scholarship.
Three of Pratchett’s past editors, former Puffin editor Dickinson, HarperCollins Children’s Books s.v.p. Jennifer Brehl and US children’s book editor Anne Harvey, convened on the stage during the memorial to share their experiences of the “sometimes challenging role” of being one of Pratchett’s editors. Dickinson, who first met Pratchett in 1987, recounted how the author “didn’t need much help if any from his editors”, with usually two or three books on the go, and her role as “keeper of ‘the timeline of doom'” that was Pratchett’s publishing schedule. She also spoke of the time when Pratchett, after mulling over some of her editorial criticism after a steely silence over the phone, drew the charitable conclusion the following morning (after a sleepless night for his editor): “I have decided you are not a cantankerous old bat after all”.
Brehl, meanwhile, revealed Pratchett’s confusion to her reaction after he first made the New York Times bestseller list: “Once he hit that list, all his subsequent books did too. It was about 6pm when I was on a commuter train going home when I got the exciting news it had hit the list. I called Terry and said ‘Terry you did it, you are a NYT bestselling author’ – and I promptly burst into tears. ‘Are you crying?’, he asked, sounding surprised, confused – and irritated. ‘There’s no reason to cry, Jen, it’s just a list!’ Even though he made fun of me, and he acted like it was no big deal, it really meant a lot to him,” she recounted.
Transworld m.d. Larry Finlay also spoke, adding: “As the Discworld world developed, Terry’s novels just got better and better. His characters richer and fuller. One of the joys of this world is it holds up a sparkling distorted mirror to our own world in all its complexities, it’s joys, it’s frustrations, it’s brilliance and its madness. Whether his keen lens scrutinised trade unions, or banking, or prejudice, the cloth, bureaucracy or academia, Terry’s novels shone a light on us and the bizarre, baffling yet extraordinary rich tapestry of our lives.”
He closed: “The PCA finally took Terry from this world on 12th March last year. It robbed him of so many more years of life, family, friendships and writing, and it robbed us of so many more books unwritten, so much invention, so many stories, so much wisdom and so much joy – but, as Terry wrote in Reaper Man: ‘No one is finally dead until the ripples they caused in the world die away – until the clock he wound up winds down’.
“My final words must of course go to Terry’s character, Death. In Good Omen he says: ‘Don’t think of it as dying, think of it as leaving early to avoid the rush’.”
The memorial lasted a little over three hours, with goody bags containing a book of Pratchett’s musings to take away.