It’s taken me a long time to really process that he’s gone.
I started reading Pratchett’s books when there were, like, maybe four of them published. They struck me as both funny and wise, and I became addicted.
In the 90s, a friend of mine, Deloris Booker, and I opened a bookstore that concentrated on genre fiction: back-and mid-list SFF, mystery and Romance, as well as new releases, bits of history and myth/magic that attracted a collection of Goth teens who would hang out and talk to us about Truth and Beauty, and got along surprisingly well with the older ladies who came in for their Nora Roberts fix every weekend.
As part-PR and part- “We love SFF”, we got involved with a few SFF conventions, and eventually agreed to underwrite the cost of bringing in Terry as the GoH for a little convention out in Banff, in exchange for him doing a reading/signing on the Friday afternoon before the con.
He arrived exhausted, and spent part of his time asleep on the floor of the office before it was time to meet the fifty or so kids and adults who had come to see him.
He was incredibly gracious and patient with everyone, and then slept in the uncomfortable passenger seat of Deloris’ truck all the way to the hotel in Banff.
But for the entire weekend, he was our favourite person ever.
He came by the shop set-up in the dealers’ room, perused the books, tried to buy two (but we managed to convince him to take them as gifts), talked us up to everyone who was there, mentioned us TWICE by name in his GoH speech (“You should shop at Blue Castle Books, and support them, they’re terrific!”), argued passionately with me about nuclear power and then bought me beer, and stayed late in the parking lot, signing one last, tardy fan’s collection of Discworld books.
It was only the one encounter – we interacted in brief moments over a mere three days – but it seemed like so much more.
Nowadays, when I go into a bookshop and see the rows of Pratchett titles, my heart still breaks in little ways.
I miss that talent. I miss that light. I wish I’d known more and better, when I had the chance.