A very sad day

Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's disease.

In a statement to his fans he said, "I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news."

Like many another fan, I'm gutted. Whatever you think of genre fiction (and actually, at this moment I don't care about your opinions very much) there's always room for a writer with as big a heart as Pratchett. My Christmas celebration, for many a year, has been taking the latest Terry Pratchett hardback and a bar of Toblerone to a quiet corner for half an hour of sheer bliss before rejoining the family and being sociable again. It's hard to accept that this may not be my Christmas happiness for many, many years to come.

Lots of people will be wanting to tell him how much they care. I once knew another famous person whose degenerative disease became semi-public knowledge. I can't pretend to know anything about how Terry Pratchett will cope, but the one thing that stuck in my mind, after the famous person died, was that person's partner telling me that 'the best letters started I don't want a reply ... because then we could relax and enjoy them, otherwise X felt it was necessary to at least sign a form letter to every correspondent. I was angry at the lost hours spent replying to those letters for a long time. It was as if X's fans stole the last few months that could have been spent away from the desk'.

So if you are going to write, and why not let the man know how much he means to you, think about starting your letter, I don't want a reply ... so that you can give Terry Pratchett the one thing he deserves - time to enjoy himself.