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WOSSNAME -- November 2012 -- Special Announcement

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  • WOSSNAME-owner@yahoogroups.com
    WOSSNAME Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion SPECIAL EXTRA: HE ATEN T DEAD, BUT... November 2012 (Volume 15, Issue 11, Post 4)
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 24, 2012
      Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion
      November 2012 (Volume 15, Issue 11, Post 4)



      As printed in The Guardian on Saturday 24th November 2012:

      Terry Pratchett: signing books was nearly the death of me

      "Now that I have been made painfully aware of the ticking clock,
      tiny voices are saying: You could be sitting at home happily writing

      (by Terry Pratchett, author)

      I once heard somebody say that signing tours could kill you faster
      than drink, drugs and fast women; regrettably my experience in at
      least two of those categories is limited, but during my recent mini-
      tour of New York and Chicago it nearly came true. My assistant Rob
      accompanied me to New York ComicCon, which was frenetic to say the
      least, but even when you are jetlagged it's all in a day's work;
      we've done this many times before. There is such a thing as signing
      tour machismo.

      It was a great event, especially meeting the actor Sean Astin and
      catching up after a few years. So the day passed noisily, but that
      was only one day down and then there was business to deal with at my
      US publishers before a talk at Barnes & Noble and then more
      publishing business and interviews and so on, after which we had a
      free day before heading off to Chicago. Rob suggested we go and pay
      our respects at Ground Zero. Unfortunately both of us had gone down
      with a little bit of food poisoning, or so it seemed, but it
      appeared to have gone away after lunch and so we got in a cab for an
      extremely bumpy ride.

      We headed south through Manhattan, both feeling absolutely dreadful.
      We arrived at the foot of Freedom Tower and had enough time for one
      single photograph before I decided to turn back, as I was feeling so
      nauseous. We got back into the very same cab and began the trek back
      to 52nd Street. However, we were only five minutes into the journey
      when, according to Rob, my breathing became very laboured. I felt
      very cold, although sweat was pouring down my face; I couldn't focus
      and just seemed to be slipping away. There was nothing I could get a
      grip on. Rob kept asking me if I was OK and assuring me we didn't
      have far to go … the little liar! We still had a good 15 minutes
      in that bumpy cab, and I have to take his word for what happened
      next; I collapsed back into the seat and, again according to Rob,
      was now definitely in a very bad way. But chalk one up for the boy
      scouts and their first aid training, because he grabbed me and
      cleared my airways – no task for the squeamish – while yelling
      at the cabbie to drive faster.

      By the time we got back to our hotel I was conscious enough to
      decide that this was just one of those things and insisted that a
      lie down would do the trick. However, my young-adult editor had
      already called the doctor, and filled me up with Pringles and
      vitamin drinks while we waited; and since they were worried, I was
      worried too. By the time the doctor arrived I felt fine again, but
      he insisted on giving me a good checking over. And good job he did,
      because when he took my pulse he felt an irregular heartbeat and
      immediately packed us all off to the nearest hospital. There I was
      warned that I might quite possibly remain for a few weeks, as a
      worst-case scenario, as they couldn't possibly recommend that I fly
      in that state.

      I was suddenly covered in miscellaneous pipes and electrodes. I was
      impressed by the thoroughness of it all and even more impressed when
      towards six in the morning they declared that as my heart had
      spontaneously returned to a normal rhythm as far as they were
      concerned I could leave, with a stern instruction to see my
      specialist back in England as soon as possible. I did so and it
      turned out that I had low blood pressure, probably exacerbated by
      the circumstances of the signing tour, odd hours, jet lag, the
      irregular meals and general rushing about. Nevertheless, on the day
      after leaving the hospital we flew on to Chicago, where we did an
      event at Anderson's bookshop – one of the best there is – and we
      had a great crowd, none of whom would have known that there was
      anything wrong. The show must go on.

      The flight home was bearable, but I started thinking to myself,
      "Look, you are in your mid-60s, with stents in your heart and a
      daily pharmaceutical regime in a myriad glowing colours. And only a
      few months ago you were charging through a bog in Borneo in search
      of a lost orangutan." I remembered the days when I used to fly
      around the US with nothing more than a transparent plastic bag, a
      mobile phone, a wallet, yesterday's washing and a friendly grin for
      every homeland security officer – necessary because authors on
      signing tours don't have the same footprint in the eyes of security
      professionals as real people; we tend to have a lot of one-way
      tickets. My perfectly transparent bag also worried every single one
      of them, because I wasn't carrying much clothing. (As recommended by
      Neil Gaiman, I had adopted the sensible routine of buying fresh
      clothes as required and then giving to the helpful escorts who
      attend every author when they arrive in a new city a small bag of
      used clothing and the money to post it back to the UK. Some of the
      nicest ones actually washed them before doing so!)

      When I put it like that, it seemed totally mad. Fun, but mad.
      Perversely, it was a great life – it still is on the whole – and
      I wish to keep it like that for as long as possible. Right now, I
      see the calendar filling up and note that next year I will already,
      among other things, be doing a tour of Australia and New Zealand,
      attending the next American Discworld convention in Baltimore and a
      host of lesser media engagements. It is amazing how many people want
      me to do something that will take just "a moment of my time", which
      invariably takes more than a week, and I suspect this is the same
      for almost all authors.

      Now that I have been made painfully aware of the ticking clock, and
      the possibility of an erratically ticking heart, tiny voices are
      saying things like, "You damn fool! You could be sitting at home in
      the chapel, happily writing books and not worrying your wife too
      much and staying within easy reach of a surgery and a pretty good
      hospital." It's a thought, I suppose – and I will respect the
      advice of my medics.

      And the clock ticks...


      Editor's note: to read this in its original form on the web, go to:



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      Copyright (c) 2012 by Klatchian Foreign Legion
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