Terry Pratchett

I remember the first Terry Pratchett book I read – it was Only You Can Save Mankind, a hardcover I couldn’t really afford. I used to go to this sf bookshop in Johannesburg once a week, on weekends, and read a chapter at a time while standing there trying not to look conspicuous. I eventually bought it. I was living in South Africa at the time, and was then buying the Discworld novels in paperback when they came out.

When I came to London in 1998, I think maybe the first signing I went to was Pratchett’s, at the old Forbidden Planet on New Oxford Street, with the queue snaking all down the road and lasting three hours. I bought them in hardcover then, and got most of them signed at various signings, which Pratchett held regularly back then (I think my first one was The Last Continent or maybe Carpe Jugulum – I remember even going to a fan produced play of the novel, for some reason which now escapes me).

One thing I liked, and which I tried to imitate later on, was that Pratchett had a stock inscription for every novel – so rather than a generic “best wishes” he’d inscribe little jokes (“Rite on!” for Equal Rites, if I remember rightly, and so on). Which made the book feel more personal.

At the time, too, London was a bookshop heaven – I was trying to write a novel recently set in that time, and suddenly realised what a period piece it was becoming – all of these shops would disappear in the next decade. I was able to find rare first editions – EricGuards! Guards!, Sourcery, even Equal Rites at a little shop in Richmond which is, like the rest, no longer there. I got most of them signed to me, too, though I was forced to sell the rare ones a few years ago for some funding.

My one prolonged encounter with Pratchett happened in 2003. I was invited to Utopiales, a French sf/f festival in Nantes. I was an unknown. Pratchett was one of the big name authors invited. We didn’t talk much – my one clear memory is of the British delegates huddling together for support outside the closed doors of the bar, looking anxiously at each other as a German band played electric accordion music over a silent black and white French film – the sort of thing you can’t really deal with without the help of alcohol. One thing that did happen – my one Pratchett story – I ended up writing into A Man Lies Dreaming:

I had to do an interview for a German arts show on satellite TV. When I came out of the interview, one of the organisers – amazingly – decided I must be Terry Pratchett. He approached me, holding an important-looking envelope, and inquired if I was, indeed, the man himself. It is worth noting that at the time I had long dreadlocks (gone, now, alas). I explained that, no, he was looking for, if I remember rightly, “a bearded man with a big hat”. The man apologised and withdrew.

Half an hour later, I ran into Pratchett by the escalators and told him a man was looking for him, “and he thought I was you, which is stretching credibility to the limit!”

Pratchett looked at me and without blinking said, “Yes, he managed to insult both of us in the same sentence!”

In 2005, with a couple of friends, we decided to make a documentary film on science fiction and its sometimes curious fandom. We interviewed a lot of people in London, and took a drive down to Glasgow, to the World Science Fiction Convention that took place there then. We ran around asking questions, and cornered Pratchett in the dealers’ room, where he was kind enough to talk about his own roots as a fan. The documentary never came to be, and the material was lost for a long time, but recently a friend of mine found some of the footage on old tapes in his garage, and I finally managed to post this never-seen interview with Pratchett on youtube. I hope it might be of some interest.

I think I met him once or twice afterwards – maybe the last one being a signing for one of the Science of Discworld books in Kingston Waterstones, nearly a decade ago.

He was one of the few writers whose books I would buy, in hardcover, as soon as they came out, and I loved his books – from The Dark Side of the Sun, his affectionate parody of science fiction, to the ever-growing stories of the Discworld.

I didn’t know him, but I read him avidly, and I had the pleasure of meeting him several times across the years, and at least I can always make the dubious claim – I was mistaken for Pratchett once. And that absurdity never fails to give me joy.

Terry Pratchett, 1948-2015. RIP.

The Violent Century’s American Publication Day!

Published today in the US by Thomas Dunne Books, in (very handsome!) hardcover or e-book editions!

The book contains an exclusive Author Q&A, and a brand new short story, “Aftermaths”, set some time after the end of the novel. The Violent Century is currently on the International IMPAC Dublin Award longlist, was blurbed by no less a writer than James Ellroy, and was called a “masterpiece” by both the Independent (in the UK) and Library Journal (in the US).

So, you know. It’s nice!

The Violent Century, Thomas Dunne Books 2015

They’d never meant to be heroes.

For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart.

But there must always be an account… and the past has a habit of catching up to the present.

Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism – a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields – to answer one last, impossible question:

What makes a hero?

Announcing… Jews vs Zombies AND Jews vs Aliens!

Jews vs Zombies

Jews vs Aliens

Jurassic London is proud to announce publication of a special pair of anthologies, edited by World Fantasy Award winning author Lavie Tidhar and acclaimed editor and writer Rebecca Levene.

Jews vs Zombies and Jews vs Aliens are published as e-book originals on March 19th, and are currently available for pre-orders. An limited paperback edition is set to follow.

The two anthologies irreverently explore the links between speculative fiction and Judaism. Authors featured include Orange Prize winner Naomi Alderman; The Big Bang Theory’s writer/co-executive producer Eric Kaplan; BSFA Award winning science fiction writer Adam Roberts; Israel’s Sapir Prize winner Shimon Adaf; Nebula Award winner author Rachel Swirsky; and cult fantasy author Daniel Polansky, among others. The stories run the gamut from the light-hearted to the profound, in turns surreal and enchanting.

Jurassic London (http://www.jurassic-london.com/) was founded by Anne C Perry and Jared Shurin in 2011 and has since released several highly-regarded and award-winning titles. The publisher has worked with partners such as Tate Britain, English PEN, the Egypt Exploration Society, the Royal Observatory Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum.

Jurassic London is a not for profit organisation. All proceeds from the sale of Jews vs Zombies and Jews vs Aliens will go to support UK charity Mosac (http://www.mosac.org.uk/).

Mosac (Charity No: 1139077) provides practical and emotional support to non-abusing parents, carers and families of children who have been sexually abused. Based in Greenwich in south London, Mosac offers a national helpline, as well as counselling, advocacy, support groups and play therapy, and aims to break the silence surrounding child sexual abuse by raising awareness through training and consultancy.

For more information visit http://www.jurassic-london.com

To request a review copy contact jared@jurassic-london.com

The editors are available for interview on request.


Jews vs Zombies


$3.69 / £2.99

“Rise” – Rena Rossner

“The Scapegoat Factory” – Ofir Touche Gafla
“Like a Coin Entrusted in Faith” –  Shimon Adaf
“Ten for Sodom” –  Daniel Polansky
“The Friday People” – Sarah Lotz
“Tactrate Metim 28A” – Benjamin Rosenbaum
“Wiseman’s Terror Tales” –  Anna Tambour
“Zayinim” –  Adam Roberts



Jews vs Aliens


$3.69 / £2.99

“Antaius Floating in the Heavens Among the Stars” – Andrea Phillips

“On the Matter of Meroz” – Roseanne Rabinowitz
“Alien Thoughts” – Eric Kaplan
“The Reluctant Jew” – Rachel Swirsky
“To Serve… Breakfast” – Jay Caselberg
“The Farm” – Elana Gomel
“Don?t Blink” – Gon Ben Ari
“Nameless and Shameless” – Lois H. Gresh
“The Ghetto” – Matthue Roth
“Excision” – Naomi Alderman



Edited by Rebecca Levene and Lavie Tidhar

Covers by Sarah Anne Langton (http://www.secretarcticbase.com)

“Aftermaths” and The Violent Century

The US edition of The Violent Century comes out on the 24th (next Tuesday!). It includes a couple of bonus items only available in this edition – an Author Q&A, and a new short story, “Aftermaths”, set in the world of The Violent Century a couple of years later.

I got asked on Facebook why that was, and why, therefore, you can only read “Aftermaths” in the US edition. Which is a pretty good question–

Back when I sold the novel to Hodder, they were quite keen on including something similar to this in the paperback edition. The problem was that by that time, I had spent far too long with the world of TVC – including a screenplay version, a comics version, and about a thousand drafts of the actual novel, not to mention edits, proofs, and so on – and, to be honest, I was sick to death of it. I just couldn’t do it.

I did produce a couple of other things, one of which I really liked – a fictional exchange between my editor and the British censor, regarding the book’s contravention of the Official Secrets Act – but it wasn’t quite right for publication in the end.

By the time the US edition came around, however, sufficient time had passed that I was a lot more relaxed about the whole thing. My editor at Thomas Dunne was keen on having some bonus material for this new edition, and I thought I could give it a try, at least. It also turned out that the character people seemed to like most in the book was Spit, who has a rather small role, and I have to admit I liked her too, so I wanted to see what she got up to after the book ended.

In the end, it fairly wrote itself, and it was surprisingly enjoyable for me to get back into that world, for just a little while. (I kind of think of it as the end title sequence in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and you might just spot a throwaway reference in there).

“Aftermaths” is about, well, what happens when stories end? It’s sort of a coda, I suppose – in a somewhat different way than The Last Osama was my coda for Osama – and I like it. What will happen to it after the US edition, I don’t really know. But it’s got a good home – and I hope people enjoy it.