|Anne McCaffrey - Continued|
Anne McCaffrey: I'm not collaborating with Todd. This is his solo effort. Mind you, he's got one book and half a dozen short stories under his belt and has always been able to write. (Since he has a "day job," the progress is slower.) We've discussed his premise and, while he plans to use some of my characters from my 2nd Pass book, they will of course, be older since he's placed the story at the end of the 2nd Pass.
Crescent Blues: Sounds as if your son is a chip off the old block. You must be very proud of him.
Anne McCaffrey: I am. Todd wanted to join the Air Force and get into space, but very poor eyesight prevented that. When he was a teenager and moaning about the inequities (his sister has perfect eyesight), I told him all he needed to do was get a good job, learn to fly and buy his own airplane. He did -- except he only owned one-fourth of a two-seat Tomahawk. But he flew that twice on round trips to the East Coast [of the U.S.]. Not bad.
Crescent Blues: Speaking of collaborations, you've written with some of the best science fiction/fantasy authors in the business: Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Margaret Ball, S.M. Stirling, etc. You're a best-selling writer on your own many times over. Why all the collaborations?
Anne McCaffrey: The collaborations, which were fun to do (sparking off another person's experience and style), were to help mid-list writers keep working in the field of their choice. Publishers found it cheaper to use first time authors at that going rate rather than pay mid-list writers what they should expect. Some of us felt that our better known names would help increase sales for our mid-list friends.
Certainly it's worked with the five (only five) authors with whom I worked. They were already published professionals, just not bestsellers -- yet! I no longer have the free time to collaborate as I am concentrating on finishing my own contracts and being available to the TV producers, Zyntopo & Alliance/Atlantis.
Anne McCaffrey: Being sure that you don't rub the other author the wrong way with your suggestions [is the hardest]. Thinking up plot twists is the easiest, because you have two great minds focused on the problem.
Crescent Blues: You make the transition from fantasy to science fiction so easily. Do you find writing one more difficult than the other? Do you consider them to be separate genres, as so many science fiction writers insist?
Crescent Blues: One of the artists featured in this issue of Crescent Blues is a very fine Russian artist, Volodymyr Ivanov. You've commissioned him to put dragons on the gates of your home, Dragonhold-Underhill. How did you meet Ivanov?
Anne McCaffrey: I met Volodymyr "Vlad" Ivanov at the London World Fantasy Convention in l997 and was mightily impressed by the exhibition of his sculpture and the paintings of his associate [Sergiy Poyarkov]. In fact, I was so taken that I bought Vlad's Scythian Warrior sculpture -- a powerful piece of an archer, shooting backwards as he clung by his knees to his speeding horse. The sense of urgency and speed were inherent in the work.
So I commissioned Vlad to do a Pernese dragon. It seems that he had read my books in Russian. (He was also kind enough to find two for my library. Although it's only recently that the publication has been legal, I know the books have been translated into Russian for some time. His gift was the first time I had any in my hand.)
Vlad and his lovely wife, Elena, have been my guests at Dragonhold, while we try to publicize his unusual style and workmanship. On his last trip here, he brought me the gate dragons, replacing the "Welsh" dragons that the builder had used. The gates are much more decorative now. [Grins.]
Anne McCaffrey: At my request, he is using his style of metal sculpture to depict our Jack, a small but extremely athletic skewbald who competed widely in Three-Day Events (Horse Trials), and show jumping.
Jack was bought originally as my ride but my stable manager and competition rider found him to be so "scopey" (meaning agile, willing and able) that we asked more of him -- and always got it. Jack had an answer for every question we asked him and was definitely a "character" horse. We "thought" he was 11 when we bought him, but seven years later we discovered that he had to be considerably older so we retired him from competition, rather than abuse his good nature.
Jack was ridden and lightly competed by a good friend, Margaret Kennedy, for another six years. Last June after a rainy May, he began to stiffen painfully and took no more pleasure in getting out in the field to graze. Rather than have him suffer, we had him put down and buried in a spot overlooking our cross country course.
Crescent Blues: How did you come to acquire a house in Ireland? And what's the story behind your home's intriguing name, Dragonhold-Underhill?
Anne McCaffrey: I've had two Dragonholds, bought with the royalties of the Dragonriders of Pern(R) books, so it was incumbent on me to name them for the source. It is the civil habit in rural Ireland that you name your house so the postmen can find it.
When my books and artwork outgrew the original Dragonhold, I designed the floor plan of a larger house, to be built on my farm. As we had to dig out a hill to accommodate the house, I added "Underhill" to differentiate between the two residences.
Anne McCaffrey: My eponymous heroine is a space ship designer, out on her test run with her Mark 5, when she encounters a space hazard not expected in that particular area. The story is about her subsequent adventures and her reunion with her beloved daughter.
Click here to read a review of Acorna, McCaffrey's latest collaboration with Margaret Ball.