Meeting the Gods of Other Worlds

Sir Terry PratchettLast week I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Sir Terry Pratchett at Discworld Con, where he was the guest of honor. I was there to do a bit part in the opening ceremony, which I was happy to do as a long standing fan of Pratchett’s 30+ book Discworld series.

After galloping through my part (details unimportant), I settled down backstage to watch him address the audience. He is extremely sharp and quite funny, and while I listened to him I pondered the nature of fame.  If there was a living author whose style I would love to adapt, it would be his.  The puns, humor, characters, plots, and wit in his writing is something I can only aspire to.  Yet even if I had the pleasure of some personal coaching with Terry, what could he really teach me? He writes as he does because of who he is, and the enormous work he has put into it. There’s no magic he could bestow upon me.

Yet, nonetheless, there was something exciting about listening to him in person.

It was when he mentioned one of his characters, Commander Vimes, during his talk that a lightbulb went off for me. Terry was speaking of an entirely fictional character as a real, flesh and blood person, and every person in that room knew exactly who he meant. The knew how Vimes spoke, his view on other species, his battle with booze, and even which book he reads to his son. Terry Pratchett made Commander Vimes, gave him life, and now millions of people knew who he was.

That’s what was so exciting to me. Seeing this God of Discworld and knowing that the creations and worlds I slave over, hunched in front of my computer, are things that can escape and live on their own. The great storytellers make whole worlds for us to lose ourselves in, like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, or J.K. Rowling. I’m certainly not in that caliber, but just meeting him was a validation that all of these great worlds were created by normal people just like (or somewhat like) me. It was an incentive to keep on pushing forward in my own writing, and although Terry certainly has no recollection of our brief encounter, I thank him for it.

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About Jeff Moriarty

A dabbler in many arts, from Ignite Phoenix to Improv, and from Information Security to Screenwriting. Jeff loves creating new things, and tries his hand at many forms of writing from screenplays to prose. He pontificates on his personal blog, and helps authors get their works online.


  1. So glad to find your blog today (via Twitter) as I’m writing a paper for BU in a class called “Rethinking The Classics.” What you said about how Terry writes the way he does because of who he is so fits my paper today…we’re writing off of a TS Eliot quote for this paper. The quote is, “No poet, no artist of any kind, has his complete meaning alone.” But the rest of Eliot’s essay talks about how a writer can be a medium for ideas and also how it’s not age or experience that makes a writer–but who the writer is. You’re channeling Eliot today! Here’s the Eliot essay:

  2. Thank you, Heather! Very interesting essay, and I’m going to have to give it another read later to digest it.

    Terry has spoken before about being a voracious reader of all genres, and how that influences him, but clearly he has synthesized that with his own experiences to create something uniquely… Terry.

  3. You’re welcome. I think it’s important to just be open to all genres because you never know what you’re going to love.

  4. Amusingly I’m watching u speak at this marketing tech summit.
    I agree with the bringing a character to life, one of the things I try to envision when writing is the character as a real person, helps me to keep things grounded and gritty, despite the subject matter.
    Also I’m a huge fan of sir pratchett, did the alzeimers show through at all? Or was he still as sharp as ever?

    • Sir Terry was a little slow at times, mostly when he was moving about. His form of Alzheimer’s impacts spatial issues first. But he was warm, cordial, engaging, and fantastic to listen to.

  5. Nice post, Jeff.

    At the library event he did, Terry also talked a lot about the need to simply observe people and pay attention. That his characters aren’t modeled after one person – but the quirkiest things about lots of people.

    He talked a bit about working PR for a nuclear power station and how they always build in 3 independent fail safe systems (typically all wired into the same wall with the same power supply *eyebrow lift*) that cover any eventuality and absolutely prevent any radioactive material from leaving the building. But they fail to take into account the janitor mopping up minuscule radioactive iron filings and dumping the waste water in the toilet.

    The janitor’s name was Fred.

  6. I’m so glad you were able to meet one of the writers you admire most!