Boo!

This is the word that Sir Terry Pratchett, who, it was announced today, has died aged 66, wrote on my paperback edition of Reaper Man back in the summer of 1992. He scribbled a picture of a scythe beside it, and then his name beneath.

I was 18, and had just left school. The queue to meet him at the local bookshop snaked down the street. He was courteous and friendly, as I gather he always was with his readers, and patiently signed everyone’s books. It is strange to think that back then he was hardly older than I am now. What a fantastic life. And what an enormous amount of joy – and much wisdom, smuggled in amongst the humour – he brought to so many people.

If you’ve ever thought about writing fantasy yourself, you really should read his 2007 essay, “Notes From A Successful Fantasy Author: Keep It Real”. You can find it in the book of his collected non-fiction, A Slip of the Keyboard, though I first read it in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. It’s only a couple of pages, and full of sage advice for aspiring fantasy authors.

As the man himself said: “It only takes a tweak to make the whole world new.”

Photo: The Guardian

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2 thoughts on “Boo!

  1. This was a real bummer–it happened while I was away from the internet and didn’t find out until days later. Sigh. I felt an old sense of guilt for not commenting on my own blog, but it was days after the fact, and so many others did such nice tributes, yours among them, that I’ve been–well, I hate to say enjoying, but….how about “appreciating.”

  2. Thank you. It certainly was a bummer – and 66 seems much too young. I saw him on the BBC’s Newsnight programme back in 2013, one of the last interviews he gave, and he was clearly struggling, but the spark was still there. Hopefully they’ll soon find a cure for the Alzheimer’s that felled him, or at least the early onset variety, which seems particularly cruel. But at least we still have those great books. I think the last is being published later this year. As Nick Cave said of Johnny Cash: “He was one of the good ones.”

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