Interview: Rhianna Pratchett

The Brief


Rhianna Pratchett is an award-winning writer for games, comics, film, and television. She has wrestled the wild beasts of narrative on titles such as Heavenly Sword, Mirror’s Edge, the Overlord series, Tomb Raider, and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Her work has received awards from the Writers’ Guild of America, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, DICE, and SXSW, as well as a BAFTA nomination. In the world of comics, she has worked for DC and Dark Horse, and is currently writing film and television projects with the Jim Henson Company, Film4, and O3 Productions. She likes hard liquor and soft cats.

Which floral artwork would you recommend?
The bluebells in Garston Woods near Sixpenny Handley, Dorset. A floral ocean under a leafy green canopy. It always makes my heart sing.

Which landscape painting would you recommend?
The Hay Wain by John Constable. It looks so much like the idyllic countryside I grew up in. I’ve climbed those trees. I’ve fallen in that stream.

Which public sculpture would you recommend?
The Guardians of Time by Manfred Kielnhofer. I love the idea of a travelling artwork that is continually adapted for the space it inhabits.

Which animated film would you recommend?
The Flight of Dragons, directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass. A wonderful tale of magic versus science. James Earl Jones told me it was where he discovered ‘magic’ in his voice.

Which documentary would you recommend?
13th, directed by Ava DuVernay. A vital look at how the 13th Amendment led to mass incarceration, and how identity and labels have been used against people of colour.

Which high-school film would you recommend?
Heathers, directed by Michael Lehmann. Anarchic and biting, and way ahead of its time.

Which book about family would you recommend?
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. A witty account of the naturalist’s days in Corfu with his eccentric (and tolerant) family. 

Which work of journalism about London would you recommend?
London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew. Mayhew’s obsessive attention to detail when chronicling London street life is a gift for writers.

Which book about travelling would you recommend?
Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson. I have always loved the cosy weirdness of the Moomins. This one is a Pratchett family favourite.

Which album about travelling would you recommend?
Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf. You can practically feel the wind in your hair and the purr of the engine beneath you.

Which folk album would you recommend?
Commoners Crown by Steeleye Span. A melodic crash course in bloody British folklore. Fascinated and terrified me as a child. Still does.

Which stage musical would you recommend?
Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim. A heart-wrenching, and often bloodthirsty, exploration of the lives of fairy-tale characters. I love Sondheim’s talk-song style.

Which television episode would you recommend?
‘The Nightcomers’ from Penny Dreadful. Wonderful (almost two-hander) episode. Excellent turn from Patti LuPone. The series I wish I’d written.

Which video game would you recommend?
BioShock, developed by 2K Boston and 2K Australia. Inspired by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, BioShock immerses you in an underwater utopia ravaged by a DNA-enhanced civil war. Beautiful and brutal.


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Are video games uniquely positioned to encourage empathy?
Yes. In many cases you are virtually stepping to the shoes of characters, experiencing their world and facing their struggles.

Do film adaptations of books or video games devalue the original?
No. They can extract new meaning and remix the world through a difference lens but that enhances, rather than devalues, the original work.

More to discover

Rhianna Pratchett: Visit Rhianna Pratchett’s website here. Her Twitter handle is @rhipratchett. Other interviews with Pratchett available online include those by Yannick Lejacq for Kill Screen, Chris Isaac for The Mary Sue, Colin Campbell for Polygon, and Tom Hoggins for The Telegraph.

Today’s recommendations: The Hay Wain (information), The Guardians of Time (information), The Flight of Dragons (trailer), 13th (trailer), Heathers (trailer), My Family and Other Animals (excerpt), London Labour and the London Poor (excerpt), Comet in Moominland (excerpt), Born to be Wild (title track), Commoners Crown (’Little Sir Hugh’, opening track), Into the Woods (Prologue), Penny Dreadful (trailer), BioShock (trailer)

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