I only interviewed Sir Terry once, but in just one hour I learnt so much.
By Tom Jamison, Able Magazine Editor
I along with thousands of fans was deeply saddened to hear that author, Sir Terry Pratchett had passed away last week. I didn’t know him personally but at the same time I feel the loss. Actually, I’ve only ever read one of his books, for research purposes; I’m not a fantasy fan.
After his diagnosis with early on-set Alzheimer’s which he described beautifully as an ‘embugerrance’ he became a champion for the rights of people that wanted to die by assisted suicide. This was the backdrop to what could have been a very grim interview indeed but it didn’t turn out that way. (In fact, the person I chose to interview from the other ‘pro-life’ point of view was far more austere – but that’s another eulogy.)
I’d only expected to speak with Sir Terry for 20 or so minutes, since magazines can only showcase stories within the parameters of a finite estate and in any case, a positive lifestyle magazine like Able isn’t perhaps the natural environment for a piece about ‘death’. To Sir Terry though, it didn’t seem to feel like an awkward or miserable subject at all. In his hands it became a discussion about being independent and confident and facing reality – which, yes, has its pros and cons. I learnt a lot in the hour and more that we ended up speaking over the phone. Of course, I was able to consolidate my knowledge of considering perspective and seeing things from a different viewpoint but most poignantly, I was learning about the courage of a man in the midst of a struggle with a consuming condition.
Dignity, humanity and above all humour were the watchwords. I’ve rarely laughed so much over a conversation about mortality as I did that morning. Sir Terry was able to take on subjects like death lightly but respectfully and I’m sure that in some way he’d find it amusing that he never had to make ‘the decision’ that he’d given so much meditation and time to.
I look back on a fascinating conversation with a man who despite his illness, was more than capable of de-constructing a seriously complicated topic in the manner of a friendly chinwag.
Thanks Sir Terry. See you on the other side.