What follows here is a
list of questions to, and answers from, Douglas. They
are snipped from various forums, webchats and webcasts
that he participated in over the years. The process of
chosing which ones that were going on this list was
simply to do with relevance/funniness/interest. If you
have others that you think might fit in, contact DAC and
send the link. Enjoy!
Q: What is the origin
of the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, and how would you make
one on Earth?
there are a number of environmental and weapons treaties and
laws of physics which prevent one being mixed on Earth.
you remember the first time someone proposed the 6 times 9
is 42/ base 13 thing to you?
No. But oddly, I remember the seventeen thousandth. It was a
warm June morning, as I recall, and I had just bought a new
Is it too early to reveal
whether Zaphod's heads will have very different
personalities in the movie, and whether you are thinking of
having different actors for each head?
do have a new strategy for Zaphod's two heads, but it's not
one that I've seen anyone else suggest yet. Isn't that
incredibly irritating of me?
on earth would Fenchurch (or anyone) be in Rickmansworth?
Beats me. Never been there myself. Just liked the name.
are you going to interpret Marvin and some of the more
fanciful creatures in the HITCHHIKER film? Are you planning
to use CGI animation or actually build a 'prop' bot?
think that the habit at the moment is to do a mixture of
both. Animatronics is usually used for constrained shots
because you can get more screen minutes for the buck. But
CGI is used to do the real show-off stuff. I imagine that's
the approach we'll take.
you ever think that you would be so successful, or that what
you wrote would cause all of this?
Bzzz bzzz. Meaningless unanswerable question alert.
is your connection with the Monty Python group, if any?
connection to the Pythons is extremely tenuous. I was a big
Python fan when I was at school and I later got to know them
is really about it. I did work with Graham Chapman on other
projects for about a year, but very little of it saw the
light of day. I think I contributed about seventeen phonemes
to a couple of stray Python scripts and appeared on screen
for about 2.8 seconds. Otherwise I have collaborated with
them on a lot of dinners.
three-quarters the way through the Illustrated Hitchhikers
Guide there is a strange illustration of 42 multi-coloured
balls lined up in columns 6x7. I can only assume this is the
famed "42 Puzzle". My question is, how do you
play? What's the puzzle?
The point of the puzzle was this: Everybody was looking for
hidden meanings and puzzles and significances in what I had
written (like 'is it significant that 6 * 9 is 42 in base
13?'. As if.) So I thought that just for a change I would
actually construct a puzzle and see how many people solved.
Of course, nobody paid it any attention. I think that's
you hoping for a more famous cast or one of lesser known
stature? Perhaps the Monty Python guys playing all the
don't know why everybody keeps trying to turn this into a
Python movie. It isn't - it's a Douglas Adams/Hitchhiker's
Guide movie. The Pythons are far too old to be in it. Unless
they all want to play Slartibartfast.
is one thing that i would like to know. I think that it was
in "The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul" that in
the list of other works by this author there was mentioned a
book called: "Something" Christmas "something
else" Holiday book. I have not seen it mentioned
anywhere else. Please explain what this is about.
was the Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book,
about 12 years ago. I edited it. It had contributions from
me, from Richard (4 Weddings and a Funeral) Curtis, Terry
Jones and a whole bunch of comedy luminaries. It was for
Comic Relief to raise money for famine relief. We sold
500,000 pretty fast, and then we were attacked by the church
for one item about the Nativity, told from the point of view
of one of the sheep. They threatened to sue us for
blasphemy. Which is a pity - we could have sold many more
copies and relieved a lot more famine if it hadn't been for
have often mentioned listening to music while writing. Is
there an otherwise favoured piece of music, that you find
too distracting to writing or makes you write badly?
It's a slightly complicated thing. On the one hand, when I'm
getting deep into writing I tend to get obsessed with some
particular piece of music and play it over and over again -
but generally it has to be in the interstices: when you're
making coffee or printing stuff out or whatever - any moment
that you are not actually directly writing. Having music on
while you are actually writing is a distraction.
be an artist these days you have to have just as much a
business head as a artistic heart. When writing a script you
do it for the love of writing it - but for it to be realised
it seems you have to market every line you type to current
trends in genre etc etc. Are we fucked? What are your
I've come to think that the idea that the 'artist' lives in
an ivory tower and is untroubled by the business of the
world is a) a recent invention and b) silly. Making a living
is as much a part of life as making poems or making jokes.
If you don't learn about how to do business you'll a) not
understand how most of the rest of the world operates and b)
I really feel cross about the fact that I managed to get
through school and university without once being told how a
business worked or even how to fill in a tax form. For a
highly educated person I've made some pretty bad mistakes in
my time in the administration of my life, not out of native
stupidity but out of sheer ignorance.
Q: I am
wondering if you have any advice to give to writers who are
trying to write a novel, or trying to get their book
don't really have any advice, other than to say it's the
most appallingly difficult thing I've ever tried to do and I
wish I had a better idea of how to do it. In my experience
what you end up with is the by-product of your failure to
achieve what you set out to do. It may turn out OK, but it
wasn't what you meant and you've no idea how you got there.
was just wondering, did you purpously write these books with
the ideas of human nature and the single mindedness of
humans in mind or was it just a big coincidence?
Q: As somebody who remembers the TV series;
I was wondering what kind of effects might be employed in
the film. Maybe George Lucas/Industrial Llight and Magic (or
whatever its called) would have time between Star Wars
DNA: We intend that the effects will be even
better than those on the TV series (if you can imagine
such a thing).
Q: Did you know that Fox Mulder lives in
flat 42? Noticed last night!
Q: It seems to me that, apart from living
there yourself, many of your written works contain
references to Islington. What is it about Islington that
attracts you so?
DNA: The reason I frequently used Islington
as a location while also living there shouldn't be too much
of a conundrum. It meant I could do research by staring out
of the window. Also, the little house in St Alban's Place
was never my home, it was my office. It now belongs to my
wife and is rented out to tenants - so please do not bother
Q: I just read The Deeper Meaning Of Liff,
and found it to be uncompleted. What is the word for the
feeling you get if you break an arm during abwong? Is there
a definition for Tab? What is the correct number of sofa's?
Really, the book seemed incomplete without this information.
DNA: I don't know when reading this forum
last made me laugh out loud. I love the idea of the 'correct
number of sofas', and that clarity is the nephew of talent.
Q: How did Zaphod manage to cut bits out of
his own brain without killing himself?
DNA: By being fictious.
Q: Jehovas Witnesses. Ever had them knock on
your door? If so, and you conversed with them, what do you
think of them?
DNA: A friend recommended the following to
me, if you happen to be visiting Salt Lake City. If there is
someone you particularly dislike, or want to be revenged on
in some way (no good for me, I'm afraid. I adore everybody)
then here's what you can do. Go to the great Mormon Temple.
In the entrance lobby is a huge visitors' book. DO NOT WRITE
YOUR OWN NAME AND ADDRESS IN IT. But, in a fit of ill will,
you could write in the name and address of someone you
dislike. They will then be plagued with Mormon missionaries
for the rest of their lives.
Q: Could you please tell me who Zbiginew is?
This person/firm/entity is mentioned, just once, in Dirk
Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. The character Richard is
reading the telephone directory, is distracted, and his
colleague Kate suggests that the reason phone books keep you
guessing until the end is that "Zbiginew did it."
This could just be a case of an interestingly spelled name
at the end of the alphabet, and I can accept that. But boy
would I like to know for sure!
DNA: Ah, it's a terrible thing when you have
to explain jokes, partly because it means they obviously
didn't quite make it all the way to funny in the first
place, but also because whatever vestiges of humour may
cling to them never survives explanation. However... the
point was that you always get the name of the murderer on
the last page of a detective novel. So if you were to see a
phone phone as a detective novel, then the name of the
murderer would turn out to be (I picked up a phone book and
looked at the last page and found...) Zbignew... Well, like
many things, it seemed quite funny at the time.
Q: In 1994 CARDZ Distribution, Inc. put out
a 100 card set of collectible cards based on "The
Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy". I recently found some
unopened card packs and began my collection. I opened one of
the card packs and I found a card number 27 that has what
suspiciously looks like a DNA autograph! Do you remember if
you personally signed these cards, or were they machine
DNA: I think I did have to sign a bunch of
cards at one time. It was, as I recall, a lot of fun.
Q: Why no more Dirk? It's taken a lot of
comittment and determination to pine for this long...
DNA: I just lost my way with Dirk and
couldn't make the third book work. However, while I'm
waiting for the next stage of the HH movie to happen (I
can't talk about what's happening just at present, but
there'll be news soon) one of several projects I'm working
on in parallel is the screenplay of DGHDA. Got to page 5...
I have no plans for another Dirk book, though if working on
the screenplay generates new thoughts about the character,
who knows? The next actual novel is not Dirk and not HH, but
something altogether new. I won't say anything about it. I
can't even tell you what the main character's name is
because for years it's been Harry, but that's become
Q: In DGHDA, Dirk has two minutes to save
the world. All of a sudden it jumps
back to the time of Coleridge, Dirk fakes an interview, and
all is well. What happened, how did this save the world, and
what did I miss? Also, why did the time machine stop
DNA: Ahem. All I can say is that it was as
clear as day to me when I wrote it and now I can't figure it
out myself. Sorry about that. I'm actually thinking about it
at the moment as I've been re-reading the book in
preparation for doing a screenplay. I've got a little bit of
sorting out to do...
While watching some beautiful black and white ruffed lemurs
at the Atlanta zoo yesterday, I suddenly had the urge to
know--are lemurs just incredibly soft?
There's a very wide range of different types of lemur. I
think the most common is the ringtailed lemur, which is very
gregarious. They move around in large packs, and it's quite
funny to see a whole bunch of them moving through long
grass. All you see is a host of black and white tails moving
along, held aloft above the grass. They are not particularly
wary of humans (most lemurs are), and if you find yourself
in the midst of them they'll clamber all over you and try to
stuff bananas in your Nikon. They're very playful and
energetic. I don't remember the quality of their fur
the women in DNA's books remind me either of the women in
the Georgy Girl or the women in the movie Blowup
.. coincidence or young adult infatuation with the Redgrave
This must be the single weirdest question I've been asked in