Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Drummer, beat, and piper, blow/Harper, strike, and soldier, go..."

The first book I ever wrote was about fire lizards. I loved the idea of fire lizards! I loved the idea of finding eggs in hot sands on the beach, and having one break open and a hungry little dragonet pouncing out, all hungry and creeling, and because I just happened to be carrying a lunch bag, WHAM!... Impression.

Of course, I was fifteen and the book was for my sophomore English class in high school. But I wrote it, illustrated it myself, and hand-bound it. It won first prize in a creative writing contest I didn't even know about, but my teacher entered it on the sly. I was very proud of that book.

And, of course, I wrote it because I was Pern-crazy.

I read my first Pern novel when I was about twelve. It was Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey, and I fell utterly in love with it. Well, actually, to tell you the truth, I fell in love with the illustration on the cover of the book, which is how I usually picked books when I was a kid. I would be intrigued by cover illustrations, and then get hooked by the words inside.

After that, I was doodling fire lizards all over the place. They showed up in my notebooks, in corners of my textbooks, on my piano music, napkins at lunch...

And then I discovered Dragonflight... and discovered there were more books by this wonderful, wonderful woman. Crystal Singer, and the Dinosaur Planet series, and her shorts in Get Off The Unicorn, and The Ship Who Sang...

I had always wanted to be a writer, when I wasn't wanting to be a astronaut/veterinarian/engineer/pianist/artist/scientist/dancer... well, you get the picture. My family is full of story tellers. But this woman... her writing set my imagination on fire, and I really, really started wanting it. Starting taking it seriously, and working at it. I started thinking it was possible.

Thank you, Anne McCaffrey, for all those wonderful hours sitting up on the roof, curled up in the shade of the tallow tree, reading about dragons and their riders, fighting against Thread, and Masterharper Robinton, and Menolly, and for the amazing Captain Sassinak and her brilliant fight against the Planet Pirates, and for Killashandra and the Heptite Guild, and the Rowan and Jeff Raven, and Afra and Damia, and... everything you taught me. I am going to miss you.

Rest in peace...

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