Novelist Terry Pratchett has lost both of his parents in the past two years, and he's also dealing with the degeneration of his mental faculties. In a wistful interview with the Guardian, he talks about how that's affected his fantasy.
The headline of the Guardian article contains a quote from Pratchett: "I'm open to joy. But I'm also more cynical." And the writer of the Discworld novels is definitely philosophical and seems brilliantly aware of the beauty in real life. But he also has confronted tremendous sadness in recent years, and the final Tiffany Aching novel, coming out soon, is, as the Guardian says, "full of worldly darkness – death, domestic abuse, old women's corpses being eaten by their pets, depression."
Tiffany's superpowers include second sight, third sight, and occasionally fourth and fifth, and they're basically a kind of self-awareness and awareness of what's really going on. At one point in the new novel, she gets her familiars, the Nac Mac Feegles, to "whizz around a depressed woman's very messy kitchen and clean it up – succeeding only in terrifying her." Says the Guardian:
Pratchett knows there are strict rules about making things so dark when you are writing for children – "a child's instinctive grasp of narrativium [sic] is that this has got to end well" – but he is also very clear that, while his witch can take away physical pain (she draws it out into a ball, then dumps it), she cannot, and will not, take loss, sadness, or grief.
Pratchett also talks about his desire to decide when he dies, and his frustration with current British law, and what it's like to deal with real-life grief and still feel his inner novelist turning everything into grist for the mill. It's all fascinating stuff, and well worth reading in full. [Guardian]