Not what I had intended this morning . . .

I must have been, oh . . . ten or so?  And if I was careful, I could stretch my allowance into two books down at the Little Professor bookstore.  I distinctly remember sitting on the floor between the aisles trying to choose between a Ben Bova trilogy and a Heinlein.  If I went with the Heinlein, I could get two, you see, but the trilogy was huge, and that made me feel important.  Three stores down past the pet shop was a branch of a the public library where they would let me take six more books home with me.  Sometimes, I’d have one read before we got home.

It was at that library that I found a small slim book with a girl surrounded by dragons on it.  I liked spaceships, but I liked dragons and wizards, too, and I can remember to this day the feeling of excitement as I stood in my ugly brown pants and striped shirt at the edge of a seating arrangement, my fingers crackling on the brittle plastic the book was incased in, and read the inside blurb where the brave girl ran and was rescued by a dragon telling her in a no-nonsense voice to “Stand up, you fool!”

I had it wrong, of course.  It wasn’t the dragon who was talking, but his rider.  I can still feel my disappointment when I got done with the read that it wasn’t the dragon speaking, but it was an emotion easily set aside. I was enthralled, and I ate the rest of the series up, enjoying them for the complexity and growth of each book, relishing it.

Even so, I don’t believe it was an accident that the first time I put pen to paper twenty years later that I wrote about intelligent dragons who could talk in no-nonsense voices.  I think Anne would be pleased that her work held the idea of a story that launched another writer, and I’m sure I’m not the only one whose imagination was kindled by her own.

Thanks, Anne.  You will be missed.  You will be remembered.  You will never know how far your touch went.

51 Comments

Filed under Drama Box

51 responses to “Not what I had intended this morning . . .

  1. Jim McDonald

    There are very few books that make lasting impressions. There are fewer writers who can make many books that have lasting impressions. There are even fewer who can have books of different types and genre’s that have that effect.
    Anne was one of the few, of the few, of the VERY Few authors to do that and do it well.
    Others have a theme that is common. Anne had several. And that is the difference.

  2. I have had more Anne McCaffrey books pinched out of my shelves than I can remember. I just keep replacing them. There is an empty hollow in the world this week, and the sound of dragons keening on the air…..

  3. Richard

    My grandmother and I travelled to a mall in Sheffield (England) to meet her during her tour for Dragonsdawn. As we waited patiently her rep (her daughter I believe) and the manager of the book shop were seen running around in an increasing state of panic. It turned out that they had lost Anne. She was eventually found searching through the computer games at the back of the store. She was in a wheelchair at the time and it was hilarious to watch all these young men and women running around trying to catch a 70+ year old.
    Hers were the first books I truly loved. Sleep well harper.

  4. anne mccaffrey was truely one of the great writers… and its awesome to hear she inspired you.

  5. Just wanted to wish you, Guy, T1, T2, and the puppies a happy T-Day.

    V^^^^V

  6. I discovered her books in my high school library Dragon Flight and The ship who sang. Her books soon became an addiction and i read everything that she wrote. But Her Dragon Riders of Pern are my absolutley favourites.

    Don’t leave me alone,
    a cry in the night.
    of anguish heart striking,
    of soul killing fright.
    Live for my living
    or else I must die
    Don’t leave me alone,
    a world heard htat cry.

    Anne McCaffrey, Dragonsinger

    You’ll be missed Anne 😦

  7. That is very sweet and very touching. And besides me think how many writer you may have innspired. i had finished pale demon and daydreamed of trent for weks when i thoguh could i make a character come to life like you do. I think perhaps i have but if it wasnt for you i probably wouldnt even thought of trying Anne will be missed by inspiring you she inspired a whole lot of othes as well

  8. Mela Colligan

    I love Pern!! I have kept all the books.

  9. Lizzy

    My husband introduced me to Pern. For the most parts are reading is wildly different, and almost never will we read the same authors.
    Only 2 have been loved by us both. Anne McCaffrey and Dick Francis. So sad that they have both passed now.
    My first story of hers was The Girl Who Heard Dragons, followed by The Smallest Dragonboy. After that I was hooked.

  10. Amanda

    What can I say that others haven’t yet? Not much. I, too, grew up reading the Pern novels, as well as her Psi series and various other works, and gained confidence & strength in seeing such strong female characters who stepped up to lead people through hard times. I still cry every time I read the end of “All the Weyrs of Pern,” even though I’ve read it at least 7 or 8 times.

    I hadn’t heard the news, either, and I am extremely saddened by it. At the same time, I’m grateful to Anne for sharing so much with us. She has impacted so many lives, and I’m sure none of us will ever forget her.

    “That’s what writing is all about, after all, making others see what you have put down on the page and believing that it does, or could, exist and you want to go there.” -Anne McCaffrey

  11. Roxy from Tn

    Thanks Kim for your kind post!!

    I read the same book in my earlier teens and enjoyed the works of Anne McCaffrey! I also enjoyed the beautiful art work on the covers. I still have the book you pictured and just came across it the other day.

    I was lucky enough to see her at DragonCon in Atlanta a couple of times. She was a great lady and an inspiration to many people!! She will be missed!!

    Also, I enjoyed all of the other people’s post and their memories that are so much like mine!

  12. Catspaw

    I found the Pern books in my local library in my early teens, and fell in love with her books. A few months ago my 10 (now 11) year old was moaning about how long the wait till inheritance came out, so hubby handed her the first Pern book off my bookcase, she is hooked, in fact inheritance is waiting till she has finished white dragon..

  13. Danny Price

    Don’t leave me alone,
    a cry in the night.
    of anguish heart striking,
    of soul killing fright.
    Live for my living
    or else I must die
    Don’t leave me alone,
    a world heard htat cry.

    Anne McCaffrey, Dragonsinger

    Good Bye Anne.

  14. I was…in 8th grade, I believe when I read Freedom’s Landing. Then Freedoms Choice and Freedom’s Challenge soon thereafter. I adore Anne McCaffrey and though I only read one of her Dragon series, she remains someone in my mind who wrote a female lead very interestingly and truthfully. I can definitely see you liking her because you too have created a character so real, and dimensional in your reader’s minds that we cannot WAIT until the next one comes out. But I sort of like the wait, because its like I’m in that play “Same Time Next Year”, only with Rachel, Ivy and Jenks:-) I get to see my old friends each February:-)

  15. Lezlee

    Anne McCaffrey’s books were my first foray into adult styled fantasy (as opposed to Narnia:)), with my first book from her being The Ship Who Sang. To say I was an avid fan as a teenager is almost an understatement as I loved all things McCaffrey and my walls, adorned with bookcovers and a painstakingly handdrawn poster size copy of the map of Pern, could attest to that.

    I’m a writer now myself, and I can honestly say that Anne McCaffrey’s influence was one of the major things that put me on that path. She will be dearly missed, but I am sure in my heart that her stories will live on for more generations to enjoy:)

  16. As a child I didn’t read much fantasy, and I never read any of Anne McCaffrey’s books until I was teaching 9th grade English and some of my students told me I had to read this book called Dragonsong. I agreed just because I wanted to encourage the students; I never expected to really enjoy it. Of course, once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down.

    While I loved her books myself, whenever I hear her name my first thought is always about how excited those students were about her books.

  17. My sister-in-law and I always shared books. She was the first one to introduce me to Anne Mcafferys world of Pern. I love having the chance to escape for a little while and pretend I am flying with the dragons. Thank you Anne , you will be missed but never forgotten.

  18. I first started reading Dragonriders of Pern when I was in high school, about 18 years ago. She was the first fantasy author I read and has been one of my favorites for years. She will be greatly missed.

  19. Kim, I can relate. I found Anne…well to tell the truth she was there from the beginning! My mom is a huge fan, and my parents and older brother (10 years my senior) always talked about books. So I probably heard the stories in bits and pieces as a very small child! I do remember that because of that I always knew dragons were real, and could talk in their own way with you when they wanted to. (Or if they really liked you and you were friends was my understanding of it. Much like how I always knew what my stuffed animals “said”.)
    But I actually read my first McCaffrey at around 9 when I found a graphic novel version of the first Dragonriders book. I was in love! Then when I went and asked my mom for the “real” book, she took out an old copy of the first trilogy. Now, this book looked absolutely huge! And the print was small, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to read all of it yet. But I took the book anyway. I remember thinking that this was it…my first grown up book! And I knew I had to take great care with it because my mom had already re-covered it using this old contact paper with pretty little flowers on it. So I thought that it must be one of the best books in the world since she didn’t just buy a new one! This particular copy had to be special.
    So I held onto that book for another 3 or 4 years before finally opening it up and reading any of it. And then I was hooked, I read everything Anne I could get my hands on. I’d even dream dragons! In college I gave a speech on her impact on the literary world as well as pioneering the industry for women. So to say she’s been a part of me my whole life is pretty true. I just hope that she is at peace now, because let’s face it, anyone who read her stuff knows she has led a very rich, and creative life and deserves the same honor and remembrance as she ever gave Robinton!
    Her stories will live on in each of us, even if her son chooses to discontinue his additions to the riders series. She was a fantastic woman who will be greatly missed!

  20. Dawn

    My Aunt NeNe first handed me a dragonrier of Pern book when I was nine or ten (I was an advanced reader). I was… lost and entralled. Forget dreaming about being a ballerina, I wanted to be a dragonrider. I have consumed the Pern books, the Ships, the Talents, anything I could find with her name on it. She showed me a world of strong, brave and talented women (not as common in literature in the early 80′s as it is today) and opened my imagination to the literary combination of science and magic. She has been an original and unique voice to me, something I find harder and harder to discover in modern science fiction and fantasy writers. Her loss is the loss of readers everywhere. May she ride dragons in heaven❤

    p.s. Kim, you are my great original and unique find of modern fantasy writers. Thank you so much for all you have given me…. just thought would be nice to say to an authour I admire who is still here (and not wait too late to tribute) xoxo

  21. Jerri

    I started reading science fiction/fantasy when I was in the fifth grade. The school library was located in my classroom.

    I discovered Anne McCaffrey when I was in my late teens/early twenties. Such magical worlds she created. They were absolutely the best places to escape to. I always wanted to meet her. Sadly, that will not happen.

    Thank you, Kim, for writing such a wonderful tribute.

  22. Tim Collins

    Hi Kim,

    I have read many of her books, all were good. I’m glad you picked a writer to emulate. Mine was Author C. Clark. I seem to be losing all the “greats” as I get older. Don’t even know who these “teen” looking stars are now. (Ok… Bella is hot…) I’m sure Ann is in some little corner of heaven feeding her dragons, keeping them safe.
    Happy Turkey Tomorrow.
    Tim (I’m working then, but plan on a late fowl.)

  23. I was eleven.
    Having just finished C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, I was desperate to find anything else that was along similar lines. I hadn’t been reading English long but I wanted something new, something different. I wanted fantasy. By chance, I found Anne McCaffrey. She was adult section of the library (South Africans were very conservative about fantasy those days…) and I had to beg the woman to let me take it and it was only when my mum came in (to find out what was keeping me so long) that I was allowed to leave with the book. The first one I touched was Dragonsinger and despite the fact that I had grabbed the second of the Harper Hall books, I fell in love with them immediately. I saw a lot of myself in Menolly. Alone. Misunderstood. I loved those books and soon found myself others. None of them were as good to me as that first book, but I still have my favourites, Moreta – Dragon Lady of Pern – one of the first books to make me cry. I loved Lessa – whom I always felt deserved more credit. Petiron, a man I could see myself trusting.
    I don’t think I can describe what Anne McCaffrey gave to me in those years. The comfort, the solace, the escape of her books. They meant the world to me, as they gave me a world.
    She’ll be missed and remembered.

  24. C.S. Wright

    My wife and I met through online (Compuserve, showing just how old we are!) fandom for Anne’s books. When I emailed Anne about our engagement, she sent a lovely response, absolutely thrilled to have played a part in bringing us together.

    She then sent a lovely Wedding Greeting/Blessing for our best man to read after the ceremony.

    She was a charming lady as well as a great teller-of-tales, and she will be missed.

  25. Chelikins

    What a beautiful post today. It is always inspiring to see who inspired those you read. I love these kinds of stories. Thanks Kim and my she and you keep on inspiring!

  26. This is where I stare and nod compassionately, as I did 30-some years ago when my husband and late father-in-law stopped alongside a desert road monument and, with reverent pride, shared their fond memories of a late, great pioneer of western film, Tom Mix. I listened dutifully to their stories, then calmly and in full sincerity, asked, “Who’s Tom Mix?” — Still a favorite anecdotal story my husband enjoys telling to this day.

    If you and I were in that same bookstore, I would be the child who bought the Heinlein book (which I did when I first discovered my home town’s local book store in the mid-sixties; it was “Stranger in a Strange Land, along with a copy of “Siddhartha”). Not that I didn’t love talking dragons and fairies but, since I saw them on a regular basis in my mother’s flower garden, I didn’t feel the need for books on such (except the fairies to use more botanically, as a guide for identification).

    If not for the tender postings from bloggers like you as well as replies from your fans, I would not have learned how much one author could touch so many young lives. May Ms. McCaffrey’s spirit be at peace and the stories she created live on in the heart’s of all her “children.”

  27. Angie E.

    my mom got me hooked on Anne,and The White Dragon was the very first “Big Book” I ever read….and I have read everything she has written..I think she was THE Sci-Fi writer that got alot of people hooked on Si Fi..dragons..and other worlds..she will be missed !!

  28. Chuck–I loved your wine cork story🙂

    I probably started reading Anne about the same age as you did, Kim. And I think I’ve read everything she ever wrote, with the exception of one obsure one from the beginning of her career. She was truly an inspiration to us all, and especially to little girls who wanted to grow up to be writers.

    I was saddened to hear of her passing, and to know that I would never get to meet her in person. But thankfully, most of her books sit on my shelves, and will stay with me forever. Rest in well-deserved peace, Dragon Lady.

  29. Howdy ma’am,

    A sad day in deed. I read some of the Dragon Chronicles back in the day. I enjoyed them. My sister is a big fan of dragons and she also loved the Pern series and you Hidden Truth series.

    The amazing thing about authors is their work will continue on long after they are gone. Countless future readers will be touched by their words. It’s awe inspiring.

    V^^^^V

  30. Tracy

    I was introduced to Anne in middle school when I picked up a couple books that said something or another about dragons on them. It came to me later that they were the first two in a series, “Dragonflight” and “Dragonfall”, so score on that one! I was totally hooked after that. I read, ordered, begged and borrowed every Pern book I could find. I could list facts, figures, and dimension of each dragon and rider on the planet.

    The best moments in my whole literacy career is when some goofy 8th grader from a podunk town in Ohio wrote to her dragon goddess. I had no clue where Anne even lived, except ‘Dragonhold, County Wicklow, Ireland’, which is where I sent the letter. To my shock and amazement, she replied! I was giddy, wrote back, and was replied again with a gorgeous note on a postcard showing Sebell with Kimi on his shoulder.

    So thank you, Anne, for everything. The world is lessened with your jump into between. “Yes, I’ll keep my tears till later:
    But my grief will never go.” –Dragonsong

  31. I too was never much into reading when I was a kid. Throughout my elementary school years I was in several assisted reading programs to try and get me up to par on reading with my grade level. In eight grade I was kind of interested in a sci-fi series but only because it was on tv and I could never watch the episodes from start to finish. However, one day I was walking home from school and came across a small little used book store. Curiosity overcame my natural state of book revulsion and I went in. I remembering holding both Dragonsong and Dragonsinger in my hands trying to figure out which on came first, as I did not have enough money on me to get both. I remember making my choice and picked Dragonsong. I read that book and the very next moment that I had enough money I went back for that Dragonsinger book desperately hoping that it was still there. It was. My next few years were a blur of finding every Anne McCaffery book that I could read. That was back in 1987. From that day on I have always had a book somewhere near me. Dragonsong and Dragonsinger (and all of her Pern series) are still listed as my favorite books, probably just due to its signifigance in my early life. Her books have always been special to me and I really hope that her family is able to know how far that she had reached and that there are many of us that mourn with them…There is a time and a season for everything under heaven…Anne you will be missed.

  32. I was also about ten when I discovered Dragonsong and Anne MacCaffrey. We read it in school actually. I vividly remember reading it and having to hunt down all the other Pern books. My parents used to by me the new Anne MacCaffrey for Christmas every year (they were also the first hardcover (grown-up) books I’d ever owned. I know my love of fantasy and dragons stems from her works and I’m sad to hear of her passing. I think she inspired a great many people.

  33. Deb Duncan

    My sentiments exactly, Kim. When I found my first Anne McCaffrey novel, Dragonsong, I devoured the Pern series, then went on to her Psi series (The Rowan), and on until I read (and bought) every book she wrote that I could find. I will miss her worlds so very much.

  34. I loved her books also. I hadn’t heard of her death, and this is sad news, but what a joy to still be able to read her incredible stories.

    Sigh…

    Take care,
    June

  35. The first book I can remember reading of her’s is The Dolphins of Pern. I was crazy about dolphins at the time and didn’t realize it was a sci-fi book, I was a kid and didn’t understand about the different genres. She quickly became a favorite author of mine for her Pern series. I read them through every year because they are STILL a favorite of mine. She will be greatly missed. May she soar above the clouds with her dragons.

  36. Chris

    One thing McCaffrey excelled in was describing food in such a way that your mouth watered, even if you’ve never heard of it before or it was something she totally made up! I think she hit her peak on that in the Crystal Singer series, lol.

    I know her waning health had mostly compromised her ability to write, over the last few years. She kept going as strongly as she could, so I’m glad that she’s getting some rest now. The rest of us will miss her very much. My sympathy for her family and friends, may they be given strength and peace.

    I honor Anne McCaffrey as one of the early leading lights in female SF/Fantasy writers, following in the footsteps of Andre Norton. She and several other women writers accomplished two major things: not only did they bring us loads of terrific fiction to read… they also slammed the door wide open, proving that women can write stories that are just as terrific, and just as popular, as those written by men—in a time that many refused to believe a female writer could do so.

    She also wrote the kind of books that you wear out from re-reading, that you collect as gems and treasures to be enjoyed time and again, and shared with your children as they grow old enough to read them.

    Thank you, Anne McCaffrey—may your wings bear you high, and your dragon always know your name. Blessings!

    PS: I hope whoever now owns the rights to her books (her estate, I would guess) will propose to publishers to possibly do a joint venture, and reprint all her titles as a special collection, most especially those that are long out of print. I think it would be the best tribute of all, making all her books newly available to fans and to new fans.

  37. My best friend and I lived for each new installment of the Pern Chronicles. When I broke my arm in 1985, my friend (an artist) drew a green dragon on my cast, which I made the doctors carefully cut out and preserve it to this day.

    Anne McCaffery was truly the Queen of Dragons.

  38. Chuck Pint

    Funny story. She was here in Chicago at WindyCon as the guest of honor (about 25 years ago). So I’m walking down the hall, when a chain-mail bikini clad woman runs out into the hall and cries, “My world for a cork-screw!”. So I pull out my trusty Swiss-Army knife and ask if this would work. Next thing I know, I’m pulled into the room she just came out of, and asked to open a bottle of wine for the guest of honor. So I did. I’m turning to leave after performing this deed, when another lady there asks if I want to get an autograph from Anne McCaffrey. So I present her with the wine cork, which with great amusement, she signed.

    I still have that cork in my desk draw. Can’t really make out the signature anymore, but I know it’s signed.

    Oh, yea, I have all her books. I love Pern.

  39. Susan Trent

    This is a beautiful tribute. So many of us have similar stories about finding her work and falling in love. I think she would be honored to know she helped inspire you

  40. In the pre-internet era, I would stalk the local book stores awaiting her new releases. I purchased many of her works in hardcover, which is a testament to my adoration, as I typically wait until paperback releas. I donated my collection to our local library a few years ago to supplement their meager offerings. McCaffrey’s books transported me into a world that had lost technology and yet managed to survive. I could not get enough of the Dragon Riders and often wondered what it would have been like to have imprinted. McCaffrey wove stories with rich character development and she defined the boundaries between good and evil. Thanks, Anne, for making dragons friendly and smart. You will always be among my literary idols.

  41. She was such a wonderful lady. Her stories were some of the first sci-fi/ fantasy books I really dove into. She will definitely never be forgotten.

  42. Randy

    Over the past year or so, I’ve really enjoyed the insights this blog has offered, but I’ve not appreciated any post more than today’s.

    ~Wordminer

  43. Diva

    Anne McCaffrey was also my first foray into the fantasy genre and I’ve never looked back since.

    RIP Ms McCaffrey. And thank you for the dragon ride. ♥

  44. I discovered Anne McCaffrey in 1981 when I lived in Seattle. We lived really close to the library, and that’s where I met Lessa and F’lar and Ramoth and all the rest. There were so many lessons in those books about acceptance and belief and so much more.

    I’ll miss Anne McCaffrey, but I still have her worlds to play in.

  45. cmtorrens

    Anne McCaffrey was some of the very first adult SFF authors I read and sought out. I devoured her Pern books as a teen.She showed me such marvelous worlds. She will be missed but not forgotten.

  46. She touched so many, in so many ways. One of the few Public Figures that I have cried over after hearing about their passing. After having her books read to me as bed time stories, reading them myself, reading them to my son as bed time stories and now he’s reading them himself. Such a long legacy that a few can achieve. She will be missed, remembered and lives on in print.

  47. I met her at an ABA Convention (American Booksellers Association, now known as something else) when The White Dragon first came out. My dad was a sales rep for her publishing house. Very neat woman, I wish we could have actually talked, but it wasn’t like a party at our house(where I did get to meet interesting SciFi/Fantasy writers. Of course, back then, I was too young to know who they were. By The White Dragon, well, I was all Fangirl.

    Fewmets. May she continue to inspire her son.

  48. Shaniee

    I loved her books, to a little girl in the middle of nowhere it was like having dragon wings and flying away to something better.

  49. MelanieS

    Oh… wow. Thank you for sharing this. It means a lot to me.

    I had no idea that she had passed. So far in my life there hasn’t been very many “celebrity” type deaths that have touched me deeply, but hearing of Anne McCaffrey passing away does.

    I had a hard time finding my love of reading. I was too wrapped up in playing “make believe” games with my best friend. Then one day my mom and I moved in with my Aunt. She lived far from any city or neighbors. She had no TV. My cousins didn’t like pretend games.

    I found my Aunt’s bookshelf and the first full book I read (at age 11) was A Swiftly Tilting Planet. After I finished all the books on my Aunt’s shelf, I headed (for the first time of free will) to the school library.

    There I found Anne McCaffrey. Since that time I’ve devoured everything from Anne McCaffrey I could get my hands on. At 36 years old, and having a Nook, I’m trying to read all the books I’ve never been able to find.

    I own all of The Rowan series. Some of the Pern series. All of the Crystal Singer series. The Petaybee series(Paperbacks). Now thanks to my Nook I’m reading the Ship Who series and I have plans to get and read the rest of the Pern series and the Doona series. I’m not sure yet about the other couple of series of hers.

    My love of Anne McCaffrey helped me to find other fantasy and sci-fi authors. Oddly enough, even though I wasn’t into reading as a young child, I did have dreams of writing. Anne McCaffrey has influenced me as well.

    “Thanks, Anne. You will be missed. You will be remembered. You will never know how far your touch went.” My thoughts exactly.

    Thank you!

  50. Colleen

    Lilith Saintcrow also wrote a very touching post about Ms. McCaffrey on her blog. She must have been a great lady to affect so many authors (and readers) in such a positive way.