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Author profiles contributed by Chris Bacon, Mason County District Library


Terry Pratchett was born in April 1948, in Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, England.   He attended High Wycombe Technical High School where he was a key member of the debating society and wrote stories for the school magazine.   Pratchett was not the best of students and credited his education more to the local library. His early interests included astronomy and he wanted to be an astronomer, but lacked the mathematical disposition to pursue it. He also had an interest in reading science fiction and attended science fiction conventions, but stopped when he got his first job a few years later.


His initial career choice was journalism and he left school at 17 in 1965 to start working for the Bucks Free Press.   In 1968 Terry married and the couple moved to Rowberrow, Somerset, in 1970. The couple had a daughter in 1976, Rhianna, who is also a writer. In 2007, Pratchett was misdiagnosed as having had a minor stroke a few years earlier, which doctors thought had damaged the right side of his brain and affecting his motor skills, but not his ability to write. In December 2007, Terry announced he had been newly diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, which had been responsible for the "stroke". He had a rare form of the disease called posterior cortical atrophy in which areas at the back of the brain begin to shrink and shrivel. After his diagnosis Terry became active in finding a cure for the disease by donating money and becoming involved in a documentary about the disease.   In 2009, Terry was knighted in the Queen's New Year Honours for services to literature. Terry died at his home on March 12, 2015 from his Alzheimer's despite his previous discussion of suicide.


Terry was a huge computer buff and was one of the first authors to embrace the technology and use it write books and keep in contact with his readers via the Internet. He also loved to play video games and helped convert many of his own stories into various computer games. His love of astronomy continued on into adulthood and he also loved natural history and he owned a greenhouse full of carnivorous plants.


Pratchett published his first short story entitled "Business Rivals" in the High Wycombe Technical School magazine in 1962. "The Hades Business" which was published in the school magazine when he was 13 was published commercially when he was 15. Terry's first novel “The Carpet People” was published in 1971. He followed it with the science fiction novels “The Dark Side of the Sun” and “Strata.” The first Discworld series novel and what he is most recognized for was, “The Colour of Magic.” It was published in1983. Pratchett gave up working as a journalist to make his living through writing novels in 1987, after finishing the fourth Discworld novel “Mort.”


Although early on Terry wrote for the sci-fi and horror genres, later on, Pratchett focused almost entirely on fantasy for both adults and children. Pratchett began writing the Discworld series in 1983 to have fun with some modern day clichés. The stories are humorous and often include a satirical sequence of stories set in the colorful fantasy Discworld universe. The series contains various story arcs and a number of free-standing stories. but all take place in the mysterious Discworld.


Pratchett is known for a distinctive writing style. For example he used footnotes, which usually involved a comic departure from the narrative and sometimes had footnotes of their own. And he had a tendency to avoid using chapters. Characters, place names, and titles in his books often contain puns and culture references.


The last two of Terry's novels will be published in 2015. A young adult novel called “The Shepherd’s Crown,” which will take place in Discworld and be the 41st and final book in the series. And the other book “The Long Utopia”, the fourth in his science fiction series The Long Earth, which is set in a universe with an infinite number of parallel Earths which characters can travel between.


Authors who write fantasy and have the same vivid imagination as Terry include Robert Rankin, David Langford, Mervyn Peake, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, and Diana Wynne Jones.


So if you are looking for a tongue-in-cheek and entertaining story filled with satire and cultural references in a world not like our own give the late great Terry Pratchett a try and be taken to worlds where the fun and action never stops and you can see our own world in a very different and humorous light.