FANTASY writer Terry Pratchett has lifted the lid on his early career at the Bucks Free Press - and admitted he was not quite cut out to be a journalist.

The popular author and creator of Disc World joined the Free Press as a 17-year-old but said he never really became a real news hound.

In an interview with Mark Lawson for the BBC, Mr Pratchett said: "It worried me that in the nature of journalism you had to chop the world up into little lumps of 150 words. You could never tell the whole story.

"I was never very good at the doorstep, asking How did you feel Mrs Jones when your son was knifed by the Hell's Angels?' because on the whole you had a pretty good idea how they felt. But we had to ask the dumb questions often when neither you or the person wanted to talk about it."

Mr Pratchett, who grew up in Beaconsfield, wrote to the Free Press when he was still at school claiming he hoped to get three A-levels.

He said: "I wasn't spectacularly good at anything so journalism was the natural course. I could arrange words in a pleasing order.

"I wasn't cer-tain I would get three A-levels but those were the days before the media. You started off by getting a job on your local paper.

"I said to my mum and dad that I wanted to leave school and get a job at the Bucks Free Press. My mum was thinking, one day, editor of The Times."

Arthur Church, the editor, called him in for an interview and he was given the job.

He said: "I think he actually said to me I like the cut of your jib, which was probably the last time anyone said it. Arthur Church was a great editor. He cared about High Wycombe and how it was reported."

At the Free Press his first short stories were published in the children's corner of the paper.

He said: "Nobody wanted to do the children's corner so I volunteered. I would do little children's stories, one-offs and running narratives. I wrote The Carpet People as part of a series but at home I was writing it as a full length novel."

The book was published in 1971 after Mr Pratchett showed it Colin Smythe, a pub-lisher in Gerrards Cross.

He said: "He hadn't published any fantasy but he bought it because he liked it. I thought this is how you do it'."

He left the Free Press in 1980 to work as a press officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board but left seven years later to take up writing full-time.

He said his success was largely down to his childhood growing up in Bucks.

"I owe a lot to Beaconsfield public library. I think I must have read every book in there," he said.

l Mark Lawson's interview with Terry Pratchett will be shown on BBC4 on Tuesday, November 21 at 9pm.