Interview with Anne McCaffrey

Q: A while ago we had a question in our discussion forum; Is Anne McCaffrey just for young women? What’s your view on this?

A: I don’t write for any particular age group, nor specifically for gender. I write the sort of story I myself like to read. So ‘Anne McCaffrey’ is read by girls of 10 and grandmothers of 90 – grandfathers and grandsons. I have parents who have given their children my books to read because they enjoyed them in their teens. There are no demographics on my books which indicate the readers are predominately of an age or sex group. Dragons have a universal appeal!

Q: The latest news on the Pern TV series was kind of disturbing, can you give us an update on the project?

A: There have, indeed, been delays in the TV series but I am now quite confident that a very fine series is developing, with much creative and superb digital workings, meshing well with live action actors.

Q: Of your own works which one is your favourite and why?

A: THE SHIP WHO SANG remains my favourite story possibly because I put much of myself into it: myself and the troubles I had in accepting my father’s death and a troubled marriage.

Q: Many writers with unpublished manuscripts despair of ever getting that first book sale. What’s your advice to aspiring authors?

A: I know that it took Stephen R. Donaldson 17 tries to get his book to the desk of the editor, Lester del Rey, who would see its, and his, potential.There is also the fact that editors switch from one company to another, so,perhaps, you just need to catch the right editor at the right moment when they need a book like yours. Or, bluntly, it may be that your book isn’t good enough for a field that is demanding more diversity, excellent character development and fine writing skill to be published. If at all possible, I would suggest attendance at one of the Clarion SF Writers’Workshops – one is in Clarion, Penna., the other in Seattle,Washington. 6 weeks in the summer and worth the time, effort and money. Almost all those taking the course get published.

Q: What types of obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today?

A: I started writing s-f in the late 50′s early 60′s when readership was predominantly male. And their attitudes unreconstructed. When Star Trek began to gather a devoted audience, many of them were women: when they couldn’t get their ‘hit’ of Star Trek, they began reading s-f and fantasy -and, by preference, women writers. My stories had themes and heroines they could relate to. And did. I never had any trouble with editors and publishers.
I had trouble getting male readers to believe I was serious, and a good enough writer to interest them. I had trouble with journalists who would invariably ask me how I found time for writing with my housework. That’s a question which I have not been asked in 25 years so there has been progress.[My answer to that question was invariably – “you got that wrong; how do I find time for housework with my writing.” But originally there were’attitudes’ towards women who wrote science fiction. Not so much.

Q: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do to relax?

A: I used to ride horseback – I finally retired my mare – and my saddle – two years ago when it got very hard for me to swing an arthritic leg across my mare’s back. Now to relax, I read – there are many, many good books out there, or surf the internet. I particularly like the NASA science news.

Q: What has the Internet meant for you as an author?

A: An excellent place to get experts in various sciences to help me develop the specific information I need in my novels. I have quick and easy communication with my children and friends. And saves me a lot of money in postage!

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