Terry Pratchett has died. He died yesterday. He was only 66. He had Alzheimer's. I don't know which is worse. I do know that I loved his books. I will miss him because of his books. I will miss his amused and tongue-in-cheek playing with cliches. I will miss the hat. And selfishly, as if I wasn't being selfish enough already, I will miss Sam Vines.
I first discovered him, Sir Terry that is, when I read The Carpet People, lying on the carpet in the living room, in our family home in Harare, Zimbabwe. It was the perfect vantage point to read the book. In fact, it should be a law. You are only allowed to read the book lying on your back on the carpet.
I was mesmerized by the story and the characters, and yet it's such a simple book. Years later I read The Night Watch. I fell in love with Sam Vines. He has since become one of my small group of fictional heroes.
Some people have called Sir Terry's writing style eccentric. I call it creative, unusual and inspired. His lack of chapters for example. The first time I encountered their lack I thought the publishers had made a mistake. For someone who suffers from what I call the squirrel syndrome (I'll put the light out at the end of this chapter - oooh look, another chapter!) this lack of chapters is responsible for many all-night reading sessions.
Those of us who have an imagination and aren't afraid to use it will have encountered those without and will have experienced that 'upsetness' first hand. I know I have. Bizarrely, one person was the last you'd expect - my high school English teacher. There's also been the odd banker who thought a particular book should be burned because it had a dragon in it! Well, I did say he was odd. It relieves and encourages me to know that Sir Terry encountered similar non-imaginaries, even though he also sold over 70 million books and was translated into 30 languages! I'm encouraged to know I'm not the only one out there battling the non-imaginaries while trying to make a living using mine.
Thank you Sir Terry for Discworld. Thank you that somewhere the earth is flat, that heroes don't marry Disney princesses, that someone sells rat-ona-stick, that vampires can fall off the wagon and that the Librarian is an orangutan. Every Library should have one.
Stand back! I have an imagination and I'm not afraid to use it!