Sir Terry Pratchett 1948 - 2015
Terry Pratchett was the first 'grown-up' author I read. I would have been about eight years old and I'd discovered the Discworld through the old 'point and click' PC game. I played the game for months. I loved the world, the city of Ankh Morpork, the wonderful mix of magic and humour, and when I heard that it was all based on a series of books I asked my mum if I could read them.
I didn't understand everything in The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. My dad had to explain what 'In Sewer Ants' was and it was years before I learnt why the iconograph kept running out of pink before all the other colours, but I devoured it over and over again. I remember sitting in the car outside school and talking to my mum about Cohen taking pictures of himself standing over his defeated foes. She, no doubt imagining some terrifying scene, said that maybe I shouldn't be reading these books. I panicked, worried that I'd managed to talk my way out of reading more of something I knew I loved. I explained that it wasn't violent but funny and, after about five minutes of non-stop backtracking, I managed to convince her to let me keep reading them.
I made my way through all the Discworld books and had caught up within a year. When The Hogfather was published I begged to go to to the signing at Hammicks. My grandparents took me out of school for the day and we queued for hours to meet him. He was, of course, lovely. We spoke for a few minutes, he signed my book and I bounced around with excitement for the rest of the day. Whoever said you should never meet your heroes had obviously never met Terry Pratchett.
I continuted to read him as I grew up and lost myself within the Discworld. The fanzine 'The Wizard's Knob' that I received through the post in the time before the internet, the Death and Rincewind bookends that lived on my shelf, the Discworld cake that was made for me when I was twelve. As a bookseller it's always been impossible not to come to work and think in some way of L-Space. Terry Pratchett's words and ideas are locked deep inside me and every other person who has read him over the years. I probably owe far more of my personality than I realise to him and his books.
There will be many other people with different, yet no less positive, stories to tell. Those who grew up reading him like I did, the events teams over the years who were lucky enough to work with him*, the millions and millions of readers who adored the incredible world that he created.
Tonight we'll be drinking Winkle's Old Peculiar in his honour. He will never be replaced. He will be hugely missed.
*Because this wouldn't feel right without a footnote. The image at the top of this post is from an event in 2010 for the midnight launch of I Shall Wear Midnight. As you can see, and brilliantly, Terry Pratchett thought it best to attend wearing tartan pyjamas.