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.