Hats Off to a Master

Two weeks ago I wrote about Robert Jordan’s untimely passing.  It came as a real shock to me, as I believe I mentioned at the time, but it also got me thinking more strongly about a series of posts I have been meaning to write.

I’ve actually had the title to this post sitting ready to go for the past five weeks or so, but I always had something else come up that seemed more relevant at the time.  I believe it is time to finally put words to title.

Let me begin by saying that the author I’m about to mention epitomizes everything I want to be as an author.  She has been writing for several decades and continues to be published to this day.  Her first book was published by Ballentine in 1967 and she currently has 95 books to her exclusive and shared credit.  Her career has allowed her to travel the world, raise her family and live solely on the proceeds of her imagination.

That author is Anne McCaffery.

I remember reading her first book when I was about 8 years old.  I may have been younger, but I certainly wasn’t any older.  Dragonsong was the book.  I was immediately captivated.

In fact, I believe that I can give her a lot of the credit for my intense love of reading to this day.  She certainly gets the credit for my desire to write.

I remember very clearly when I was twelve, my Mom was going to a teacher’s convention where Ms. McCaffery was appearing as the keynote speaker and special guest.  By that time I think I had 6 or 8 of her books, including a ratty old version of “The White Dragon” that the school library had thrown out.

Mom took all my books (yes, “The White Dragon” too) with her to the convention.  Ms. McCaffery graciously signed every one of them.  She made special comment about my cast off saying how pleased she was to see it so thoroughly enjoyed.  She also mentioned (tongue in cheek, I suspect) that she’d have to speak with her publisher about the glues they used as my copy had loose pages.

How I wished I could have gone along to meet her.

But, I was fortunate enough to get my books back, signed every one.  I still have them today.  I think that was when I first started to realize that I wanted to write myself.  In fact, I know that some of my writing style is due to her direct influence (the good parts, not the bad ones :) ).

It is still a goal of mine to one day meet her.  I’m not so sure that will happen as she rarely leaves Ireland anymore (oh, yes, that is where she settled, in a house of her own design).  She is now 81 years old and doesn’t get out much due to her arthritis.  That being said, I still noticed two new, co-authored books on the shelves this year.

And that really explains, in a nutshell, why I want to have a career as a writer.

No… not so I can move to Ireland, nor so I can become wealthy.

I want to have a career doing something that I love so much that I couldn’t conceive of retirement.  I want to be writing until they have to pry my cold fingers off the keyboard (perhaps a bit ghoulish, but you get the idea).  And I want to bring stories to life that people can enjoy, just as she has done.

Good authors are wonderful, but great authors like Anne McCaffery (and yes, Robert Jordan) are treasures.  They bring joy to the lives of their readers.  I treasure the positive role Anne McCaffery has provided to me and hope that I can do the same for others one day.



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