30 Books in 30 Days - Day 2: Favourite Book By Your Favourite Writer
It was so hard for me to even pick a favourite author, let alone my favourite of their books, but in the end, this was the one I decided upon, partly because it's by an author I've been reading for most of my life and partly because when I started buying the new, pretty Discworld hardbacks, this was the book I chose to buy first.
I was introduced to Terry Pratchett and the Discworld by a friend at secondary school. I'm not a huge fan of fantasy novels, they're not my natural stomping ground and at the time, I'd never read anything in that genre, but these books opened my eyes to a different universe - quite literally!
In the days before Kindle, I had all of them in paperback form and after my marriage, when we were trying to save money, the new Terry Pratchett, along with the new Elizabeth Peters (more of her in a later post) was the only book I permitted myself to buy in hardback form.
Although I started with the Witches books, the Watch books quickly became my favourites and I loved Sam Vimes - he was practical, honest and although he had his prejudices, he was upfront about them and not afraid to admit when he was wrong.
As I got older and read the books with a more critical eye, I began to see the beauty of the writing, not just the clever digs at the foibles of our own world, or the life lessons hidden within the pages, but the actual craft of the language. In writing my MA dissertation, one of the things I've been particularly focusing on is subtext in dialogue and Terry Pratchett was a master at this. Any conversation between Sam Vimes and Lord Vetinari is full of it and I had an excuse to go back and read some of the Discworld books with a view to picking up some tips for my own writing.
I think the reason that Night Watch stands out for me is because it was one of those books that just gave so much to me - it was a believable story, cleverly constructed, expertly written, but more than that, it was inspired by a real event. This meant that I went off and researched the event it was inspired by. It gave me yet another valuable lesson as a writer about how a relatively small incident that sparks an interest can evolve into a story that has no relation to the original event, but mirrors it beautifully.
It also develops the character of Sam Vimes and although he changes throughout the series, this was the only book that gave us an insight into the young Vimes. Seeing young man and gnarly veteran alongside each other beautifully illustrated how much he had developed during his time in the Watch.
I never had the honour of meeting Sir Terry and there are very few celebrities whose deaths make me feel genuinely sad, but his was one of them. His books have had such a huge influence on me over the years and so when we renovated our garden and redecorated my study it seemed only fitting that the Discworld was a part of that. Constable Downspout guards my flowerpots on the decking and the Watch keep a close eye on me whilst I work.