Author Terry Pratchett described the moment he felt he had “died” in an unfinished autobiography that has been adapted into a television docudrama.
The Discworld novelist died in March 2015 at the age of 66 and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007, which he wrote about in the notes for his life story which he did not finish.
His long-term assistant Rob Wilkins appears in the BBC programme Terry Pratchett: Back In Black, which airs next week, talking about the moment in 2007 when the writer realised his career could be over.
According to The Times, Wilkins says in the programme: “We had had a good day working on the biography and he said to me: ‘Rob, Terry Pratchett is dead’.
“Completely out of the blue. I said: ‘Terry look at the words you have written today. It is fantastic’.
“And he said: ‘No, no, Terry Pratchett is dead’.”
He added that Pratchett had at one point come into his office and said: “The S on my keyboard has gone … Come on, what have you done with it?”
Pratchett managed to finish seven more books even after Alzheimer’s set in and Wilkins talked about his determination to continue.
He said: “He could see how it was affecting him, how it was tripping him up and I knew we were up against it for time.
“We had to get the words down and with that white heat, with that white anger driving him to write seven whole novels through the haze of Alzheimer’s.”
Pratchett’s unfinished autobiography includes his notes on how it feels to live with Alzheimer’s.
He wrote: “On the first day of my journalistic career I saw my first corpse, some unfortunate chap fell down a hole in a farm and drowned in pig s**t.
“All I can say is that, compared with his horrific demise, Alzheimer’s is a walk in the park. Except with Alzheimer’s my park keeps changing.
“The trees get up and walk over there, the benches go missing and the paths seem to be unwinding into particularly vindictive serpents.”
He added: “I always dreamt that when I died I would be sat in a deckchair with a glass of brandy listening to Thomas Tallis on the iPod.
“But I had Alzheimer’s, so I forgot all about that.”
Terry Pratchett: Back In Black is on BBC2 on February 11.