A writer has many parents—people who shape who we are and what we become. We have the parents of our blood and bone, the ones who gave us our bodies, our actual mothers and fathers. We have parents of the mind—teachers and personal role models who helped us find our talents and hone our arts. We also have the parents of our souls—the voices we hear when we imagine what it is to write, the writers who make us who and what we are.
Too often those voices belong to those who have passed on before we ever truly arrive on the scene, people we can never thank properly because we know them only through their words…Shakespeare, Cervantes, Moliere, Wilde. Sometimes we only miss them by the narrowest of margins. I never met Roger Zelazny, though he probably shaped the writer I have become more than almost anyone else. Too rarely we get the chance to meet them or thank them in some other way.
Some years ago I set out to write thank you letters to as many of my surviving influences as I could, the pillars of my authorial universe. I wanted to let them know how much they had meant to me and shaped my voice. Among those, one of the most important was Terry Pratchett. My second novel, the never published Swine Prince, was pretty much my attempt to be Terry when I grew up, and his work has echoed through mine ever since.
I never got the chance to meet Terry Pratchett, and yet he is one of the people who made me. Simply knowing he was out there somewhere writing away has made the world a better place. And now he isn’t, and that hurts. I will miss his wit, his wisdom, his humanity, and his sheer cleverness. I will miss the writer who saw cruelty and injustice and skewered them with unerring accuracy and merciless verve. I will miss the voice that has comforted me so often in dark hours and times of stress. But most of all, I will miss one of the mighty supports of my world, the giant whose shoulders so much of my own work is built upon.
Another of my authorial pillars has fallen. Or, if you prefer, my world has one less elephant holding it up.