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I met Terrance Dicks when I was 14. He agreed to be interviewed by me for a fanzine I produced with my best friend from school. The trouble was, in my teenage years I had a horrendous stammer. 1/
And the day he'd agreed to meet us I was especially bad. I could barely drag out one word after another - probably because I was overawed to be in the company of one of my heroes. 2/
The thing about stammering is - it's embarrassing. It's embarrassing for the one who suddenly finds himself the most inarticulate person in the world. It's just as embarrassing for the one on the other end listening to it. 3/
And I was painfully used to embarrassing people. My teachers. My friends in class. Even my parents, who loved me very much - even they didn't know how to react when I tried to force words out of my mouth and goggled like a goldfish. 4/
It was mortifying that I was stammering in front of Terrance Dicks. Whose books I had read, and reread, and rereread, and adored. I wanted to *impress* him. I wanted him to *like* me. 5/
Terrance Dicks wasn't embarrassed by my stammer. He'd smile kindly, and wait for me to get through my question - and then answer thoughtfully as if it had taken a couple of seconds for me to get there, rather than a couple of minutes. 6/
And I had a *lot* of questions. This was Terrance Dicks! I wanted to ask him about all of his books. Literally. Every. Single. One. 7/
And all the time - for the hours he sat with me, always that same patience. Always the kindness. 8/
The one time he alluded to my stammer, was when I got out that I wanted to be a writer some day, just like he was. And he smiled and said, that's the problem we writers have, that there are so many words in our heads it's sometimes hard to get them all out. 9/
He called me a writer. And I did become a writer. I ended up on Doctor Who, the same series that decades before he had shaped and finessed and cared for. 10/
And stammer beaten (mostly), I met him at many conventions over the years, and I never got round to telling him that as a shy 14 year old he had inspired me so much. Not only to write, but not to feel so ashamed of my speech impediment. 11/
I'm okay with that, though. He was a very humble man, and I'd seen the way he reacted when shambling adults like me told him how as a kid he'd been their inspiration. Because he'd inspired *millions* of us. 12/
I feel terribly sad today that a very kind man, who wrote lots and lots of brilliant things, and who didn't even mind when I asked him questions about his novelisation for Arc of Infinity, has died. And lucky that I met him. And lucky that I read him. 13/
All of Doctor Who fandom is reeling today. He was *our* writer, and we loved him. 14/14.
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