Sunday, February 26, 2012

Anne McCaffrey, Remembering the Dragon Lady

I didn't know.

I feel bad about it but I simply didn't know. I've had my head buried in the sand that is graduate school and I've only recently decided that, for my own sanity, I have to peak out on occasion to keep an eye on my other passions, like books and writing. That's the reason I didn't know that one of my favorite authors of all time, a woman whose books introduced me to fantasy and inspired me to write, a wonderful writer who created one of the richest fantasy worlds of all time, Ms. Anne McCaffrey, The Dragon Lady, passed away last November.

I'd like to share with you a letter I wrote Ms. McCaffrey in August 2011, less than 4 months before her passing. I have no idea whether she ever read it.

Dear Ms. McCaffrey,

One summer morning when I was in my early teens, I was tasked by my parents with cleaning out our storage shed.  While rummaging through boxes I happened to come across one containing my dad’s science-fiction book collection.  More because of the cover art than anything else, I grabbed a dusty faded paperback with a dragon on the cover.  I then spent the rest of the day shirking my duties while sitting propped up against the shady side of the shed, a copy of Dragonflight in hand. If memory serves, the only thing that eventually broke the book’s hold on my imagination were my mom’s repeated calls to come to dinner.  Over the following few years I read the entire Pern series, loving every book.

I’m now almost thirty and I’ve gone back to school to get my graduate degree. While staying in a remote cabin to conduct my research, I came across another faded old copy of Dragonflight that a previous resident had left behind.  I usually don’t re-read books (there are so many good books out there that I haven’t read yet) but I’d already burned through the few I had brought so I decided to break custom.  I can sincerely say that I’m very glad I did.  I just finished re-reading the original trilogy and I must say that, having become an aspiring writer since the first time I read the series, I now have an even deeper appreciation for the skill in which you brought Pern and its inhabitants to life.  I don’t think I’ve ever read an author who is better able to inspire such love, hate, passion, or trust for his or her characters.

This is the first piece of fan mail that I have ever written but I felt it important to say that I look up to you as a writer.  Put simply, you inspire me.  

Thank you for giving us Pern.

Sincerely yours,
Adam Gaylord

As I said, I have no idea if she ever read it but hopefully, in sharing it with you, I'm helping her memory live on in some small way. 

Thank you Dragon Lady. You will be missed.

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