I got excited when I got to this name in my list. For some of the other writers it was difficult to try to put into words how they have affected me as a writer without sounding pretentious, although it’s been a good exercise to go back and think about their different styles from a different angle. Terry Pratchett on the other hand is easy. Basically I just think he’s awesome.
I could happily leave it there but I probably should elaborate for the sake of making this a more interesting post. The first book I read of his was Guards! Guards! and it’s still my favourite. I love any of the stories containing Sam Vimes and the witches as well. Humour is key for his stories and it’s something I admire in writers who get it right because I’ve always found it difficult to achieve without it sounding forced. Occasionally I’ll write something and read it back only to find it’s a parody of what I was trying to say seriously but if I try to write humour while thinking about it, it just doesn’t work for me. So the effortless way in which Terry Pratchett and others can make it work is like magic.
Underneath the humour of his stories is usually a very intelligent plot with realistic characters. I’ve never read one of his books and thought “That’s just not believable.” If I was to try to describe it to someone else it would probably result in raised eyebrows and the other person backing away slowly with a fixed grin on their face. But his world is well crafted and he obeys his own rules (fantasy writers/readers will know what I’m talking about – so long as it fits your creation you can make it happen).
The Discworld is as well realised as any fantasy world and the stories that are set there always hold me enthralled. His other books are worth reading as well; the one that sticks most in my mind is Nation, a young adult novel which is beautifully written and thought provoking. I also found it quite moving but I’ve discovered that I’m moved by just about anything these days. Something to do with getting older. (I drew the line at the latest John Lewis advert though; not even that mushy pile of drivel could make me cry. As my boyfriend pointed out, surely it would be really bad for the bear waking up half way through his hibernation? The writers obviously haven’t watched many David Attenborough documentaries.)
I took a lot away from reading Terry Pratchett’s books and sometimes I would like to thank him for the inspiration he has given me. But I know I’m not the only one and it would only be lost in the sea of fan mail I’m sure he receives every day. If I’m ever a success it will be partly down to him and Tolkien. And hopefully partly because of me.
While I fully expect anyone reading these posts to instantly rush out and buy the authors books so they can share in the marvel and wonder with me, Terry Pratchett is the only one who I would really urge people to read. If you’re a fantasy or humour fan and you haven’t read him then you really must.