Author in the Flesh: Terry Pratchett and Audrey Niffenegger

I love living in London. I get to meet heaps of authors that I would never ever get to meet back home (or maybe I could, but only once in a blue moon, and only if that blue moon happens in my lifetime). Here they actually live around the corners and probably travel to the venues on foot. It’s fantastic.

Terry Pratchett

I saw Terry Pratchett in National History Museum night time event just last week, with a selection of panels (mostly British comedians) talking about what things they would like to steal from the museum if people had their own Museum of Natural Curiosity, and why. People chose things like trilobite fossil, space dust, fake stuffed Dodo bird (the original – the only one in the world – was burnt by Prince Albert because it was too big or some stupid reason like that), fake flies in rocks (which was very famous in its time before it was discovered that it was a fake). Sir Terry chose the statue of Darwin – which the panels concluded at the end that the reason must be because they look alike.

pratchett and darwin
which is who, can you guess?

The whole atmosphere of night at the museum thing was fantastic. There’s a huge T-rex skeleton stands imposingly in the middle of the hall, its tail just ends above my head. And I love the whole theme running through the Natural History museum treasures.

I’m not a big fan of Terry Pratchett to be honest. I’ve just read one of his books and didn’t think high of it, but I’m willing to give Discworld series another try. But since he’s getting very old, plus the coming Alzheimer, I just wanted to see him in person, before it’s too late. (And he did look very very old! – appearing in his high hat trademark.)

Audrey Niffenegger

The night with Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife) and Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus) was held at Prince Albert Cinema in London Chinatown on Halloween’s night. Unfortunately Erin was stuck in the US because of Sandy, so she attended as a giant cinema screen.

The Time Traveler’s Wife was one of the first English novels I read and I completely loved it, so I was so glad to be able to see Audrey in person. She exudes this gothic-y, gloomy, dark-y feel. Her humor was dry, she didn’t smile a lot (or smiled in that half-smile Mona Lisa way), and looked mysterious in her red hair and red shoes.

audrey and erin
it’s red theme for the night

Erin talked about how she started The Night Circus during Nanowrimo (though really finished it 5 years later) and about how it’s not fair that only all the British children go to Narnia, so she wanted to make her own magical world. Audrey talked about how she used to think that England is like a magical land in story books, continued with her experience of arriving in London the first time (I can totally relate with that). She now shares her time between here and the US. She especially has particular fascination with Highgate Cemetery and that’s where her second book Her Fearful Symmetry stemmed from. To this day she still volunteers her time to be the cemetery guide once in a while! (I have planned to visit Highgate Cemetery sometime soon. How wonderful it’d be if I were to see her as my guide!)

There are more authors, so stay tune for the second part of Author in the Flesh!

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Equal RitesEqual Rites is the third Discworld novel and my first Terry Pratchett. Normally I would never ever read a book out of series order, but after hearing over and over from people that The Colour of Magic, the first Discworld novel, is not the ideal place to start since it’s not by all means the best of the lot, I gave up my insistence to start with book number one and started with Equal Rites. As you can see in this awesome Discworld Reading Order Guide, Equal Rites is the starting novel for the Witches series, and many people have told me that the Witches are the strongest / most interesting characters in Discworld.

In Discworld, a Wizard is chosen to be one and he must be the eighth son of an eighth son. One day however, an old Wizard bestowed baby Esk a staff, one requirement to be a Wizard, ignorant to the fact that Esk is a girl. As Esk grows up and starts to show signs of magic power, Granny Weatherwax, the Witch of the village where Esk lives in, takes her under her wing. But Granny is a Witch, while Esk is supposed to become a Wizard. So starts their journey to the Unseen University, where wannabe Wizards study to be real Wizards. Naturally, it’s not an easy journey for Esk (and Granny) as they navigate through the misogynistic world of the Wizards and hear too many times: Girls can’t be Wizards!

Unfortunately I did not find the book as exciting as I expected. Perhaps it was my fault to start this book right after One Hundred Years of Solitude, but it just felt bland and far too light. It wasn’t as funny as I expected and the story wasn’t as deep as I wanted. It took me a while to get through the book even though it’s rather thin and light in content, because I could never really get into it. I needed to push myself to finish it so I can at least say that I’ve read Terry Pratchett.

Don’t get me wrong. Equal Rites was not bad, not at all. It was just… ordinary, when I want wow-ness from my books. Esk’s story is a typical hero’s journey and there isn’t enough twist and turn to make me excited. It was not a very satisfying read for me.

Terry PratchettI know lots and lots of people love Pratchett, book bloggers and even several of my colleagues in real life alike (who all pushed me to try his book). But we didn’t click, Pratchett and I. I’m not sure if it was just the timing, but it might be a while before I try another of one of his books.

I’m sorry you guys. I’m just as disappointed as you!

3.5 stars
1987, 283 pp

First Line
This is a story about magic and where it goes and perhaps more importantly where it comes from and why, although it doesn’t pretend to answer all or any of these questions.

Terry Pratchett Challenge

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