I can only seem to make sense of the passing of Terry Pratchett by writing about how he influenced my life and my work. The rest has been said by better people than me.
In 1999 I was drifting. I was in my first year of college, my roommate was sucking the life out of me, I was doing badly in classes, I was depressed, and I would possibly go weeks at a time without talking to another human being. I was miserable, and I could only deal with it by escaping into books.
After consuming several dozen titles, I came across “Equal Rites.” I had tried reading it in 7th grade, but I put it down in embarrassment because the first page had the word “sex” in it. I thought I’d give it another shot this time, so I began to read… and read… and read. I was done with it in three days, I recall skipping a few classes to finish it. I adored it. I laughed. It was rare to hear me laugh in those days, unless it was cynically. A little cloud had lifted off of my heart.
But it wasn’t enough. When I put it down, there was a hunger in me. I wanted to play in this world again I needed to play in this sandbox again and never leave it. I looked in the inside leaf to find out what other books there were and dashed to my college bookstore to see what I could get. I quickly finished Colour of Magic, Light Fantastic, Sourcery, and Wyrd Sisters. Over my 4.5 years in college, I bought EVERY book in the Discworld series that was out (Sorry, Mom. Most of it was money that was supposed to be for food and texts). When I’d bought them all, I’d bug the staff about ordering the rest. They started to recognize me by face after a while. It wasn’t uncommon for them to greet me with things like, “No, honey. ‘The Fifth Elephant’ isn’t here yet.”
And in reading those wonderful magical books, my eyes were opened.
Terry’s writing voice was like mine—the running Mystery Science Theatre 3000 that was always in my head when I read fantasy. He was pointing out tired plot devices and character tropes that I had long ago become sick of. He seemed to be as tired as I was of all the myriad of fantasy authors who were attempting to ape Professor Tolkien. Not only that, but he too became tired of his own fantasy world. As the Discworld series progressed, everything became less about heroes and more about the little guy. It wasn’t about dark lords and farm boys and prophecies. It was about parents, and career women, policemen, bureaucrats, teachers, journalists, hippies, kids—ordinary people, made extraordinary by their larger-than life personalities.
Philosophically, I was enthralled as well. His portrayals of Death, culture-clash, capitalism, government, women, and people of faith and non-faith alike made me question my world and see his world in it.
Later on, his bravery and humor, and cutting observations inspired me to make my own sandbox: Tereand. Linus Weedwhacker, I can’t deny, would not have been possible without Terry’s influence.
I’ve been blessed with some good reviews for my books, but the only one that made me feel like I truly succeeded—that I was able to give back some of what was given to me— was the review that compared my work to that of Terry Pratchett’s. I considered that a compliment of the highest honor.
God bless you, Terry Pratchett. Hopefully, it will be revealed to you how much we all loved you.
Terry Pratchett was born in 1948.
In 1971 he published his first book, The Carpet People.
The first Discworld Book The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983
He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2007 and struggled with it while still writing and devoting countless hours to raising money for further research into the virulent disease. He wrote over 70 books, finishing the 40th Discworld book, Raising Steam, last year.
He leaves behind his wife, Lyn, and his daughter Rihanna.
His family is currently asking for their privacy to be respected and for well-wishers to leave donations to justgiving.com