Terry Pratchett

(Sir Terence David John Pratchett)

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It's been around a long time. History
An author writes a book, and that's the book at that point. And if the author writes the book again, then somehow something has gone wrong, if you see what I mean.
Anger is wonderful. It keeps you going. I'm angry about bankers. About the government. Government
As far as I'm concerned, I'm a writer who's writing books, and therefore, I don't want to die. You'd miss the end of the book wouldn't you? You can't die with an unfinished book.
Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. Life
By the time you've reached your sixties, you do know that one day you will die, and knowing that is at least the beginning of wisdom. Time
Christ managed to boil down an awful lot of commandments to a few very simple rules for living. It's when you go backwards through the 'begats' and the Garden of Eden, and you start thinking, 'Hang on, that's a big punishment for eating one lousy apple... There's a human-rights issue.'
Dickens, as you know, never got round to starting his home page.
'Discworld' is taking something that you know is ridiculous and treating it as if it is serious, to see if something interesting happens when you do so.
'Educational' refers to the process, not the object. Although, come to think of it, some of my teachers could easily have been replaced by a cheeseburger.
Eight years involved with the nuclear industry have taught me that when nothing can possible go wrong and every avenue has been covered, then is the time to buy a house on the next continent. Time
Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree.
Evolution was far more thrilling to me than the biblical account. Who would not rather be a rising ape than a falling angel? To my juvenile eyes, Darwin was proved true every day. It doesn't take much to make us flip back into monkeys again.
Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can. Of course, I could be wrong.
Fantasy is uni-age. You can start it in the creche, and it follows you to death. Death
Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.
For an author, the nice characters aren't much fun. What you want are the screwed up characters. You know, the characters that are constantly wondering if what they are doing is the right thing, characters that are not only screwed up but are self-tapping screws. They're doing it for themselves.
Freedom without limits is just a word. Freedom & Liberty
Genius is always allowed some leeway, once the hammer has been pried from its hands and the blood has been cleaned up.
Go on, prove me wrong. Destroy the fabric of the universe. See if I care.
He was the sort of person who stood on mountaintops during thunderstorms in wet copper armour shouting 'All the Gods are bastards.'
I am a great fan of science, but I cannot do a quadratic equation. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I am certain no one sets out to be cruel, but our treatment of the elderly ill seems to have no philosophy to it. As a society, we should establish whether we have a policy of life at any cost. Society ;Life
I became a journalist at 17. A few hours later, I saw my first dead body, which was somewhat... colourful. That's when I learned you can go on throwing up after you run out of things to throw up.
I believe everyone should have a good death. You know, with your grandchildren around you, a bit of sobbing. Because after all, tears are appropriate on a death bed. And you say goodbye to your loved ones, making certain that one of them has been left behind to look after the shop. Death
I believe it should be possible for someone stricken with a serious and ultimately fatal illness to choose to die peacefully with medical help, rather than suffer. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
I can no longer type, so I use TalkingPoint and Dragon Dictate. It's a speech-to-text program, and there's an add-on for talking which some guys came up with.
I didn't go to university. Didn't even finish A-levels. But I have sympathy for those who did. Sympathy
I do not, in fact, use many puns. Certainly there are far fewer than people believe. But I suspect the ones I do occasionally use tend to hang around in people's memories for a while.
I don't believe in the war god of the Israelites. He's a bogeyman. Jesus preached the golden rule, by and large. Religion & God ;War & Peace
I don't really plan. I'm almost intuitive about things.
I don't think about the end game. I've got lots to occupy my mind. It's the rage that keeps me going.
I got into science fiction by being interested in astronomy first. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I got quite annoyed after the Haiti earthquake. A baby was taken from the wreckage and people said it was a miracle. It would have been a miracle had God stopped the earthquake. More wonderful was that a load of evolved monkeys got together to save the life of a child that wasn't theirs. Life ;Religion & God
I grow as many of our vegetables as I can, because my granddad was a professional gardener, and it's in the blood.
I have a living will and I have friends, and I have money and I have hope. Hope ;Money, Coins & Minting
I have to write because if I don't get something down then after a while I feel it's going to bang the side of my head off.
I have, before now, waited for a pen to perform a macro.
I intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod. Oh, and since this is England, I had better add, 'If wet, in the library.' Who could say that this is bad?
I know three people who have got better after a brain tumour. I haven't heard of anyone who's got better from Alzheimer's.
I like being a writer.
I like writing. I get cranky when I can't. Yes, I write books back to back, and I work very hard on them. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I mean, I wouldn't pay more than a couple of quid to see me, and I'm me.
I must have read every issue of 'Punch' published in the 20th century, and I think in the process I picked up the true voice of English humour - that amiable, fairly liberal, laconic voice which you find in something like 'Three Men in a Boat.'
I particularly admire are Mark Twain and Jerome K. Jerome who wrote in a certain tone of voice which was humane and understanding of humanity, but always ready to annotate its little foibles. I think I'd lay my cards down on that, and say that it's that that I'm trying to do.
I read the 'Old Testament' all the way through when I was about 13 and was horrified. A few months afterwards I read 'The Origin Of Species', hallucinating very mildly because I was in bed with flu at the time. Despite that, or because of that, it all made perfect sense. Time
I regarded finding I had a form of Alzheimer's as an insult and decided to do my best to marshal any kind of forces I could against this wretched disease. I have posterior cortical atrophy or PCA. They say, rather ingenuously, that if you have Alzheimer's it's the best form of Alzheimer's to have.
I think I work much harder on the children's books. I suppose I enjoy that. I find it interesting that although there are more than 30 books in the Discworld series, it is the four that were written for children which have won the awards. I've never been quite certain why this is. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I think I would like to go into modelling. Of course, I don't know how to do it, and wouldn't be any good at it if I did, so I'm going to employ someone to walk the catwalks on my behalf. It would still be me, of course.
I think it does Discworld good if I don't write about it all the time: sometimes you have to get it out of your system. Time
I think perhaps the most important problem is that we are trying to understand the fundamental workings of the universe via a language devised for telling one another when the best fruit is.
I think the best thing I ever did with my life was stand up and say I've got Alzheimer's. Life
I think we are waiting for an e-book that even non-techies can be comfortable with. From my point of view, the biggest change is that I don't have to spend most of the day printing out and packaging a manuscript. I think I almost miss that.
I think when people mean that Discworld books have become darker they really mean the series is growing up. In 'The Colour of Magic' most of the city is set alight. It's a joke, in much the same way that the Earth is destroyed almost at the start of Douglas Adams's 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.'
I was a very keen reader of science fiction, and during the time I was going to libraries, it was good, written by people who knew their science. Time ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I was a very keen reader of science fiction. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I was once a journalist. And I think of myself as a journalist, and that's it. You tell the truth. I even wrote a book called 'The Truth'. Truth
I write books back to back, and I work very hard on them. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
If it wasn't for the fun and money, I really don't know why I'd bother. Money, Coins & Minting
If the government ever imposes a tax on books - and I wouldn't put it past them - I'm in dead trouble. Government
If you are going to write, say, fantasy - stop reading fantasy. You've already read too much. Read other things; read westerns, read history, read anything that seems interesting, because if you only read fantasy and then you start to write fantasy, all you're going to do is recycle the same old stuff and move it around a bit. History
I'll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there's evidence of any thinking going on inside it.
I'm a fantasy writer, called a fantasy writer. But there's very little, apart from one or two basic concepts in 'I Shall Wear Midnight,' which are in fact fantasy. You have sticks that fly, but they're practical broomsticks, with a bloody great strap that you can hold on to so you don't fall off. And you try not to use them too often.
I'm glad a genre writer has got a knighthood, but stunned that it was me.
I'm not really good at fun-to-know, human interest stuff. We're not 'celebrities', whose life itself is a performance. Good or bad or ugly, we are our words. They're what people meet. Life
In all seriousness, people think that it's the ideas that are important. Well, everyone has ideas, all the time. I tend to write mine down and remember them, but at some point you have to apply the bum to the seat and knock out about sixty five thousand words - that's how long a novel is. Time
In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
In my heart, I'm just a kid from the council houses. I can remember the old cottage and my dad coming round with the tin bath. I'm not a rich man. Families, Children & Parenting
In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
In the first book of my Discworld series, published more than 26 years ago, I introduced Death as a character; there was nothing particularly new about this - death has featured in art and literature since medieval times, and for centuries we have had a fascination with the Grim Reaper. Death ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
It cannot be said often enough that science fiction as a genre is incredibly educational - and I'm speaking the written science fiction, not 'Star Trek.' Science fiction writers tend to fill their books if they're clever with little bits of interesting stuff and real stuff. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It's called living. Life
It occurred to me that at one point it was like I had two diseases - one was Alzheimer's, and the other was knowing I had Alzheimer's.
It seems sensible to me that we should look to the medical profession, that over the centuries has helped us to live longer and healthier lives, to help us die peacefully among our loved ones in our own home without a long stay in God's waiting room. Religion & God ;Health, Healthcare & Medicine
It seems that when you have cancer you are a brave battler against the disease, but when you have Alzheimer's you are an old fart. That's how people see you. It makes you feel quite alone.
It's not morbid to talk about death. Most people don't worry about death, they worry about a bad death. Death
It's not worth doing something unless you were doing something that someone, somewere, would much rather you weren't doing.
It's useful to go out of this world and see it from the perspective of another one.
I've always felt that what I have going for me is not my imagination, because everyone has an imagination. What I have is a relentlessly controlled imagination. What looks like wild invention is actually quite carefully calculated.
I've got wide tastes, but I don't like jazz.
I've lost both parents in the last two years, so you pick up on that stuff. That's the most terrible thing about being an author - standing there at your mother's funeral, but you don't switch the author off. So your own innermost thoughts are grist for the mill.
I've often felt depressed; everyone feels depressed.
Journalism makes you think fast. You have to speak to people in all walks of life. Especially local journalism. Life
Knowing that you are going to die is, I suspect, the beginning of wisdom.
Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.
Mind you, the Elizabethans had so many words for the female genitals that it is quite hard to speak a sentence of modern English without inadvertently mentioning at least three of them.
Money is an unavoidable consequence, but it isn't the reason I write; if it was, I wouldn't have written any of the YA books, because advances in that field are small compared to what I'd got now for an 'adult' DW. Money, Coins & Minting
Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don't find out til too late that he's been playing with two queens all along.
Mum had done everything you need to educate a kid. She made me a kid who likes books and she told me about 'Wind in the Willows' and read it and I thought this is weird, Rat, Mole, Toad and my first ever Bolshie thought - you know about 'The Wind in the Willows.'
My experience in Amsterdam is that cyclists ride where the hell they like and aim in a state of rage at all pedestrians while ringing their bell loudly, the concept of avoiding people being foreign to them.
My own books drive themselves. I know roughly where a book is going to end, but essentially the story develops under my fingers. It's just a matter of joining the dots.
'Nation' was one that I'd have killed myself if I hadn't written it. It was absolutely important to me that I wrote it. It was good for my soul.
Neither of my parents went to church, but they did everything that you needed to do to be Christian. That's something a Quaker would call an intimation of the divine.
Never trust any complicated cocktail that remains perfectly clear until the last ingredient goes in, and then immediately clouds. Trust
No one's policing their own minds more than an author. You spend a lot of time in your own head analysing what you think about things, and a philosophy comes. Time
Nothing I can say or devise, and nothing anybody else can say or devise, is going to be perfect.
Often I sort of work up and down the manuscript. I sometimes used to go ahead of myself to see what was going to happen next, to make certain it fits what was going to be happening soon. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
One thing that writers have in common is that they are readers first. They have read lots and lots of stuff, because they're just infested with lots of stuff.
Opera happens because a large number of things amazingly fail to go wrong.
Over the centuries, mankind has tried many ways of combating the forces of evil... prayer, fasting, good works and so on. Up until Doom, no one seemed to have thought about the double-barrel shotgun. Eat leaden death, demon. Death
Personally, I think the best motto for an educational establishment is: 'Or Would You Rather Be a Mule?'
Plot exposition that can be gently wound out by the authorial voice and internal monologue of a character in the length of a page has to be delivered in a matter of seconds on the stage.
Previous generations understood about death, and undoubtedly would have seen a reasonable amount of death. Once you get into the Victorian era, you might well have seen the funerals of many of your siblings before you were very old. Death
Seven hundred thousand people who have dementia in this country are not heard. I'm fortunate; I can be heard. Regrettably, it's amazing how people listen if you stand up in public and give away $1 million for research into the disease, as I have done.
Siren voices tell me, 'You don't have to keep going on.' And then you think, 'I'm a writer. What do I do? Sit there watching my wife clean up?' I don't know. I like being a writer.
Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness.
Sooner or later we're all someone's dog.
Taxation is just a sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces. Money, Coins & Minting
That's the most terrible thing about being an author - standing there at your mother's funeral, but you don't switch the author off. So your own innermost thoughts are grist for the mill. Who was it said - one of the famous lady novelists - 'unhappy is the family that contains an author'? Fame ;Families, Children & Parenting
The baby boomers are getting older, and will stay older for longer. And they will run right into the dementia firing range. How will a society cope? Especially a society that can't so readily rely on those stable family relationships that traditionally provided the backbone of care? Society ;Families, Children & Parenting
The bravest person I've ever met was a young boy going through massive amounts of treatment for a very rare, complex and unpleasant disease. I last saw him at a Discworld convention, where he chose to take part in a game as an assassin. He died not long afterwards, and I wish I had his fortitude and sense of style.
The harder I work, the luckier I become. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The ideal death, I think, is what was the ideal Victorian death, you know, with your grandchildren around you, a bit of sobbing. And you say goodbye to your loved ones, making certain that one of them has been left behind to look after the shop. Death
The intelligence of the creature known as a crowd, is the square root of the number of people in it.
The most watched programme on the BBC, after the news, is probably 'Doctor Who.' What has happened is that science fiction has been subsumed into modern literature. There are grandparents out there who speak Klingon, who are quite capable of holding down a job. No one would think twice now about a parallel universe. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The 'New Testament', now, I quite liked. Jesus had a lot of good things to say, and as for his father, he must have been highly thought of by the community to work with wood - a material that couldn't have been widely available in Palestine. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The only superstition I have is that I must start a new book on the same day that I finish the last one, even if it's just a few notes in a file. I dread not having work in progress. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.
The thing is, 'Discworld' had been going on for a very long time, and I've written children's books as well. Usually when people have a really big series they franchise it, which I thought is a bit of a no-no, so I thought what I'd do is I'd franchise it to myself. Time
The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it. Humor
The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head. Truth
There are some people who hate my guts. But that goes with the territory.
There are things around, and I know where they can be got quite easily, but I quite like waking up to the sunshine.
There can be no better grounding for a lifetime as an author than to see humanity in all its various guises through the lens of the reporter for the town.
There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist. Religion & God
There is a soak-the-rich attitude in the air, a feeling that if you have a lot of money you must have got it by some ghastly means. I can quite happily say there was never any family money. All the money we got was mine, just from writing books. Families, Children & Parenting ;Money, Coins & Minting
There was once a caustic comment from someone suggesting I was breeding a new race. Fans from different countries have married, amazing things like that. I've been to some of the weddings. I went to one here the other day, a pagan ceremony.
They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
This isn't life in the fast lane, it's life in the oncoming traffic. Life
Tolkien is eminently filmable, I think. 'The Lord of the Rings' is intensely... landscaped. But 'Discworld' is about dialogue, which is one reason why it might be hard to film.
Truthfully, without over-egging it, as I often do, the library and journalism, those things made me who I am.
We have been so successful in the past century at the art of living longer and staying alive that we have forgotten how to die. Too often we learn the hard way. As soon as the baby boomers pass pensionable age, their lesson will be harsher still. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
What is normal? Normal was yesterday. If you lose a leg, one day you're hopping around on one leg, so you know the difference.
When I was a kid, I read the science-fiction shelves, and I read the fantasy shelves.
When you read, I'm sure you don't realize that your eyes are going backwards and forwards and to this place and that place. Mine don't do that.
When you're all singing together, it brings things together. I know the songs that my grandfather and my father sang.
Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.
You can't build a plot out of jokes. You need tragic relief. And you need to let people know that when a lot of frightened people are running around with edged weaponry, there are deaths. Stupid deaths, usually. I'm not writing 'The A-Team' - if there's a fight going on, people will get hurt. Not letting this happen would be a betrayal.
You can't die with an unfinished book.
You can't remember the plot of the Dr Who movie because it didn't have one, just a lot of plot holes strung together. It did have a lot of flashing lights, though.
You can't trample infidels when you're a tortoise. I mean, all you could do is give them a meaningful look.
You have to have really wide reading habits and pay attention to the news and just everything that's going on in the world: you need to. If you get this right, then the writing is a piece of cake.