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General Q&A with Anne McCaffrey

This summary comes from the two panels that Anne was in, the private by-invitation-only panel, and the formal panel with Atlantis and Grolier.   Quotations I'm fairly sure are word-for-word occur in normal double quotation marks; those that may be somewhat paraphrased are in single quotation marks.  Notes here will be organized by topic, rather than in random order they occurred in.   Major topics include:

  • Future book plans
  • Writing methodology
  • Witicisms, Anectodes, and Other Miscellany

Future Book Plans

One of the most frequently asked question type was "Are you going to write another book about..."  The answer was most often an ambiguous shrug accompanied by a coy "maybe," which I interpreted as 'yes, if I feel like and plot inspiration strikes me.'  There were a few more definite yeses for continuation of some series, as well as some more definite nos.  But the great Dragonlady can always change her mind...

Anne and son Todd plan to collaborate on a book set after the end of Threadfall (post- Ninth Pass, or sequel to All the Weyrs of Pern and Dolphins of Pern).   She and Todd concur that there's quite a lot to write about when Thread stops, because there'll be lots of political, social, and economic adjustments to be made by the Pernese.  They're working out the future of Pern together, with Todd especially making decisions about technology (though Anne gets veto power). 
Todd is writing his own novel (which'll be discussed with Mum) set in the Third Pass.
The third continent of Pern is arid & uninhabitable, and thus won't be written about.
Plans are in the works for a sequel to The People of Pern with a new artist, Rob Prior (Robin Wood is not physically able to do much print art anymore).
No sequel to The Atlas of Pern; Anne and Karen Wynn  Fonstad agree that there's no need to do a second edition, as most things can be extrapolated from the existing Atlas (I disagree, but that's another matter...).

Freedom / Catteni series
A definite possibility.  Sly looks passed between Anne and Todd, and she said something to the effect of a crafty plot already in development...

Pegasus / Talent / Tower and the Hive series
A draft of Pegasus in Space, sequel to Pegasus in Flight, has already been finished.  Projected publication date is March 2000.
When asked about a sequel to the recent The Tower and Hive, (thought to be the series conclusion), we heard a coy 'maybe.'

A flat "no"

Crystal Singer
Maybe, but likely not.  Anne sort of has Killashandra right where she wants her at the end of the current trilogy, and would have to come up with a good reason to add to the series.

Powers That Be, co-written with Elizabeth Anne Scarborough
Yes, they'd like to do another, but with Elizabeth's current busy schedule, work is on indefinite hold.

Nimisha's Ship and The Coelura

Pure Fantasy (like If Wishes Were Horses, & An Exchange of Gifts)
Anne seemed delighted that someone asked about more of these "Oh, you liked those!"  She will probably write more--possibly a full-length novel.

Black Horses for the King
No real plans or ideas for taking this book further or writing something similar.   Anne commented that she would have to have Jane Yolen as an editor again if she were to do more.  Jane was the one who got her to write the short story which was expanded into the book, and then helped edit the book, too, or so I gathered.  Anne had had no prior interest in writing about King Arthur--it's been done so much (by authors like Marion Zimmer Bradley, Mary Stewart, Rosemary Sutcliffe) that she was "tired of the whole damn thing."  But Sutcliffe's Sword at Sunset touched briefly on where Arthur's cavalry horses came from, and Anne (an avid horsewoman) decided that would make for an interesting tale (with encouragement from Jane).

Non Science-Fiction Romances (like Stitch in Snow & The Carradyne Touch)
Not likely--Anne feels out of touch with the current young generation.


The Ship Who Sang
No plans at present.  A short story about Helva was published 6/99 in Robert Silverberg's Far Horizons anthology (and was titled incorrectly in the hardcover version--should be The Ship Who Returned, instead of That Returned).   No plans for other co-written Ship books at present.


Another book written in first person (as Nerilka's Story was)?
Can't predict--if a story is best told from 1st rather than 3rd person, then of course!

Other former co-authors?
No plans with Jody Lynn Nye or Mercedes Lackey.

Hopes to write a short story in a Treecat anthology with David Weber.

Might someday write a tribute back to Diane Duane, who added a character named Aunt Annie in the fourth book of her So You Want to Be a Wizard? series (titled A Wizard Abroad, I believe).

Any more new universes?  Anne said she's written eleven--isn't that enough?

Witicisms, Anectodes, and Other Miscellany
Anne was using a motorized cart to get around the Con because she has an inner ear condition that makes her dizzy and causes her to lose her balance easily.   She told us that she's likely to fall "boom, splat!" without it, and it takes two men to lift her back up after that.  Needless to say this can be embarrassing, and sometimes you can even find any men around!

Towards the start of the by-invitation-only panel, a weird moaning-groaning noise was heard from behind Anne & Todd on the platform.  Anne inquired "What's that?" and Todd replied "It's someone behind us."   Then Anne quipped "Does he have a ticket?"

When working on her latest manuscript, Pegasus in Space, Anne found it necessary to do a lot of research.  In modern times, it's pretty easy to solicit expert help over the internet.  Anne said it's fun to go online and say "I need some help.... My name is Anne McCaffrey."  The response she got was overwhelming!

She sought help designing CELS (Contained Environmental Life Support), which I believe refers to the pods used by the Talented to travel in space.  Then there's the oxygen-detecting telescope she and [an expert] designed, which they thought should be placed in a solar-polar orbit.  They named it SPOT (Solar-Polar Oxygen-finding Telescope).  Spot seems to have a special affinity for Sirius, the Dogstar (groan!).   [Alright, so I screwed the joke up a bit, but it was hilarious when Anne told it!]

When asked what her job would be if Anne lived on Pern, she quickly quipped "Head Cook."  The audience roared, while Todd piped up "No, really--she's an excellent cook!"  Then Todd allowed that she would of course be a Master Harper.

Someone asked if Anne would write more scenes like the ending of "The Thorns of Barevi." The questioner referred to the end of this story as "a bit risqué," and Anne immediately interrupted with the comment "It was downright sexy!"  As for the answer the question, Anne says no; she really prefers to let her characters go behind closed door and let the reader imagine what they wish of the scene to follow.

Three chapters of Anne's historical romance "The Mark of Merlin" were originally written to satisfy the requirements of a composition class at Radcliffe.  Years later Anne came across this assignment, and spun it into a full length book.  The story is based on real events in WWII, and Anne did do quite a bit of research for it.

Anne designed the house she lives in with the kitchen in front--so that she can see who's coming and duck if she needs to!

Before she became a best-seller, it was a struggle for Anne to keep her kids fed in Ireland, and pancakes were a very common food for the family.   Daughter Gigi quipped to Anne one day, 'Gee, Mom, wouldn't it be nice to have pancakes sometime just because we want them?'  Now, any time the family goes to IHOP (international house of pancakes) together, they turn to each other and laugh.

Why did Anne move to Ireland?  There were many reasons that went into the decision to relocate there from America.  First of all, as Anne put it, it was "3000 wet miles away from my ex-husband!"  Ireland also has a good school system, which was important to her for Georgeanne and Todd (son Alec was just entering college).  Anne's aging mother was very comfortable in Ireland, and was well taken care of and liked by the community (although Ireland was way behind on women's rights at the time, elder women have always been revered).  Anne adored her mother and was very happy that she got to spend her last years in such a wonderful setting; she described her mother as a 'beautiful, beautiful woman.'  And then of course there's Ireland's tax exemption for writers, which can really help out a struggling new writer.

What books/authors does Anne like to read? [sorry for missed titles and misspellings]  Lois McMaster Bujold's "absolutely beautiful" books;  Sharon Shinns' Wrapped in Crystal;  Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio;   Orson Scott Card's Enchantment.

How did Diversity of Dragons come to be written?   It was suggested by Anne's agent in England to do a book discussing the various types of dragons.  Anne has read many dragon books over the years, and has become somewhat of an authority on them.  Still, she read about 180 more books as research for this one--though she said there were some that she didn't read completely because "they were silly!"  The first draft of the book turned out to be a rather dry catalog of dragons, and Anne knew it was a boring flop.  She showed the manuscript to Betty Ballantine, who suggested teaming up with Richard Wood and writing the book in a 'toungue-in'cheek' manner.  Richard has subsequently written a short story about the character of Tighe that they created together.

What was Anne's inspiration for writing about dragons?   Anne said that when she was young--"when I was a brat"--she was 'opinionated, stubborn, domineering, egregious,...' and had no friends (except for cats, who are of course "very discerning creatures").  She spent time thinking about what she would want in a best friend/companion, and decided to create a creature with those attributes.  She'd seen that dragons had gotten a lot of bad press in the past, and picked them as her creature to try to improve their public image.     Thanks Anne, you did a great job!


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