Here's the story of how he came to create the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, from today's "Writer's Almanac" (I particularly like the bit about deadlines):
"It's the birthday of writer Douglas Adams, born in Cambridge, England (1952), best known for his five-book "trilogy" The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a series of comic science fiction novels that sold more than 14 million copies during his lifetime and inspired a cult-like following.
"The idea for the first book came to Adams when he was 19 years old and backpacking through Europe. After a day of wandering through the Austrian countryside carrying the Hitch-hiker's Guide to Europe, Adams lay drunk in a field in Innsbruck with the book, ruing his inability to communicate with residents and gazing up at the stars. He said it occurred to him right then that somebody ought to write a hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy.
"At age 24, he felt frustrated by his lack of success as a writer and was on the verge of pursuing a different career when the BBC accepted his outline of the Hitchhiker story, about an Englishman named Arthur Dent and his alien friend Ford Prefect who hitch a ride from Earth on a passing starship before the planet is destroyed by a band of bureaucratic aliens. He wrote a 12-part radio series, which was broadcast for the first time in March 1978. A publisher approached Adams about turning the series into a novel, and the next year The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy appeared in print.
"It was followed by The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980) and then Life, the Universe, and Everything (1982), each popular and best-selling, and then a fourth book, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish (1984).
"He was a notoriously unpunctual writer and said, 'I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.'"
Adams passed away at age 49 which running on the treadmill at the local gym. Moral: don't waste time.
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