Sad News

I learned today that one of my writing idols, Anne McCaffrey, has died at her home in Ireland on the 21st November, aged 85. The author of dozens of books, including the Dragon Riders of Pern series, the Crystal Singer books and one of my all time favourites, The Ship Who Sang, has been one of my favourite writers for decades. She was the first woman recipient of both Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction writing and an icon of the science fiction and fantasy genre. I can blame my best friend for getting me hooked. She introduced me to the Pern series with Dragonflight in the early 1980s, closely followed by The Ship Who Sang.

Apparently Anne only started writing when she was 50 and my thought was always “well, there’s hope for me yet.” So I kept going and hoping and now I’m a published writer at 49. So, Anne, I made it, and you gave me hope that I would. I wish I could have thanked you for that.

She was a lovely lady, I was privileged to have met her at conventions more than once and even heard her do a heart-wrenching reading from the Ship Who Sang (there wasn’t a dry eye in the room) at World Con 1987 in Brighton. She was a wonderfully accessible guest, approachable and always appreciative of her fans. I learned a lot from that, always vowing that’s how I would be if I ever got to her exalted status as a writer; never to forget my fans, the people who got me there. Without the folks who buy our books, we authors are nothing, after all. A book tightly shut is just a block of paper, as the Chinese proverb goes. If nobody buys your books, they remain blocks of paper. Thousands bought your books, Anne, and deservedly so.

My friend reminded me of the time we got stuck in a lift with her, on the way, I recall, to that very same reading in a hotel in Brighton. The lift was at capacity but came to a halt between floors. When we were rescued (thankfully they managed to get the lift to the next floor so we could walk off) we were accused of having too many people in the lift and were counted off (we felt like naughty kids). It turned out that there had been the correct number of people (even if it felt like too many) but then someone saw the firelizard model on my shoulder and so he got the blame for being the extra weight, all six inches of him! I remember Anne appreciated the joke.

If I leave half the legacy to the writing world that Anne has left behind her I shall be more than happy and I don’t expect I shall even scratch the surface, but you never know. I keep hoping and working to that end. Who knows what the future will bring. May the Dragons keen for your passing, Anne, and I shall continue to read your books and introduce my own children to them.

Where ever you are, may the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warmly upon your face, and the rain fall softly on your fields, and, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Most of all, may there be dragons, lots of them.

God bless and thank you.


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