At about 3.30pm today I stared at my phone.
Terry Pratchett has died.
Just four little words in a text from my husband and my whole day changed. First of all, I had to make sure it was true.
It’s true. Sir Terry Pratchett, award winning author and a king of fantasy, has left our world at the far too young age of 66 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
I don’t remember how old I was when I read my first Discworld book, but I was very young at school when I first read Johnny and the Bomb. We were learning about the war and back then, as now, I don’t like reading war stories. It’s too real and upsetting (why I like fantasy, it puts a wall up between us and reality). Johnny and the Bomb was the only war story I liked.
It was many years later that I read the Colour of Magic, the first Discworld novel originally published in 1983. I hooked my mum on the Discworld novels by forcing Equal Rites into her hands. We read and collected every book between us, we watched a local am dram group attempt the Guards Guards play, and we watched the TV movies on repeat (I adore Hogfather and my mum loves Going Postal).
Sir Terry Pratchett was a journalist turned novelist who wrote over 70 books, a number that makes my head hurt. Learning about his death was sad, at first, but it becomes both tragic and amazing as you slowly remember every amazing thing you’ve read by him.
Pratchett not only taught me what fantasy can be (it doesn’t have to be about powerful, intelligent wizards or people talking rather posh or creatures with pointy ears), he taught me how to structure a story, how to develop a good character and how to weave a plot. I quickly learned to pull apart every book of his I read to learn his magic (I came nowhere near but my writing has dramatically improved).
Not only did he create memorable characters with great depth (Vimes, Moist Von Lipwig, Death, Tiffany, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, to name a few) but he seemed to be able to write seamless, strong and wonderfully realistic women. Something that some women can’t do. I live my life by the teachings of Susan, Esme Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Tiffany.
He once wrote that inspiration falls from the sky, and if you’re lucky enough you’ll be standing right where it falls. I often think of that when I’m stuck on an idea. It makes me get up and move around in the hope of catching some of that inspiration.
With the departure of Terry Pratchett, the world has lost one of its brightest shining lights. An intelligent, funny, kind and talented man who campaigned for Right to Die and raised awareness and money for Alzheimer’s. He brought comfort, wonder and laughter into countless lives. Taught people to enjoy reading, to love fantasy and invited them into worlds he created where ideas and philosophies were explored without judgement, prejudice or force.
He also left us with a massive legacy. His family and friends (who have my sympathies), a towering heap of precious and varying stories, and his talented daughter who inherited his writing genes.
And so, while Sir Terry Pratchett may have left the room…
‘No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…’ (Reaper Man)