A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
The Late Terry Pratchett
There is one writer whose books I can literally finish, then turn back to page one and start reading again. One writer who never fails to make me laugh, cry or think, often in the same chapter. One writer whose books I will never lend out for fear of never getting them back. One writer who was on my ‘auto-buy’ list and who I would have queued for hours to meet. That writer was Terry Pratchett.
In my writing life I go to a fair few ‘cons’, and have ties to the sci-fi / fantasy community. At a ‘con’ the other week I was speaking to yet another fan, who had actually met Pratchett. His words were the same as every other person I’ve spoken who met the man: He was lovely. He was funny. He was warm. I met him a couple of times and he remembered my name …
I never met Terry Pratchett, but I wish I had. I wish I’d had the opportunity to get my books signed, to tell him what a hero he had been to me. Different books meant different things to me at different times. When I was younger his Witches series (within the Discworld) were the ones that spoke to me and made me roar with laughter – I needed the strength of Granny Weatherwax, the humour and irreverence of Nanny Ogg and the kindness of Magrat. As I got older my favourites became the Guards series (again within the Discworld). I identified with the struggles of alcoholic Vimes, and needed the goodness of Corporal Carrot, the incisiveness of Vetinari.
I loved the cleverness of Pratchett’s writing, the fact that his influences varied from Shakespeare to science, from Aristotle to art, from history to film. I loved his satire, his biting views on everything from war to child rearing and of course how quotable he is. Pratchett quotes litter my life.
I want to speak to him, to sit down and have a conversation with a man whose mind, as revealed through his writing, was incredible; filled with knowledge, opinion and humour.
As he got towards the end of his life, the books he wrote were for people at the beginning of theirs’: the Tiffany Aching series. He obviously felt that his youngest readers were the ones he wanted to speak to, at the end. He didn’t abandon his adult readers – we got to see the witches through Tiffany’s eyes but it was a passing of the baton – the younger generation taking over.
I’d like to ask him though, did he feel as if the Discworld stories were ended, or was there more he would have said? Would Young Sam have ended up with Young Esme (Note Spelling)? What happens to Ankh Morpork when Vetinari can no longer be Patrician? Do Carrot and Angua really have ‘puppies? What did he think about Brexit and Trump and what would he have written to make the world laugh and think about the issues? Would he have done more collaborations, like the one with Stephen Baxer (Long Earth), or Neil Gaiman (Good Omens)? And who with? What does he think of the new Good Omens TV series being made?
More importantly, what advice would he give to a writer just starting out on their career? What stories could he tell me about his life? Like an acolyte, I would have loved to have simply listened to him speak.
When I found out that Pratchett was dying, in the most terrible way I could imagine, I was heartbroken. It was a betrayal of an amazing mind, an amazing man. Yes, I wish I could resurrect him. He had so much more to say.