Frequently Asked Questions
1) Q: When are you going to write another Pern novel?
A: There have been several new releases in the Pern series, as collaborations between myself and my son, Todd, and also written by Todd himself. The last few, as of this FAQ’s last update, are Dragonsblood, Dragon’s Fire, and Dragon Harper. The last is due for release in December 2007, so keep an eye out!
2) Q: What inspired you to write the Pern series?
A: Back in 1967, I was sitting in my living room in Sea Cliff, Long Island, wondering what sort of creatures I could use in my next story. Since S-F is a “what-if” form of fiction, I suddenly wondered, “what if dragons were the good guys?” Then I had to develop a planet which needed a renewable airforce against some unknown menace and came up with Pern, dragons, Thread and humans who Impressed a hatchling in a lifelong symbiotic relationship. Rather wonderful to have an intelligent partner that loves you unconditionally. Who wouldn’t like a forty-foot telepathic dragon as their best friend? By the time my (then) children got home from school, I knew how it would all start: “Lessa woke cold.” I finished Weyr Search by summer and John W. Campbell bought it immediately for ANALOG Magazine and asked me to do more stories about Pern.
3) Q: Are you going to update THE PEOPLE OF PERN anytime soon?
A: Ballantine Books/Del Rey released the original edition. Although thereâ€™s been some interest in this guide to the people of Pern, it hasnâ€™t been sufficient to warrant printing an up-to-date version. If you really want to get your hands on a copy may I suggest that you try a used-bookseller?
4) Q: Where can I purchase your books?
A: Iâ€™m afraid I can’t recommend the best place to purchase my books in your locality, but most of the larger booksellers have a good selection of the Pern series, and many of my other works. A few Internet booksellers keep a good stock of my work, either new or used. Good hunting!
5) Q: Where may I purchase your romantic novels?
A: Please get in touch with John Betancourt at Wildside Press.
6) Q: How can I find your books on tape?
A: Audiobooks can be found on each book’s individual page, but we’re working on getting a more complete list posted to the website. We’ll post a note in the blog as soon as we have it available!
7) Q: Have any of your books been translated into drama?
A: Irene Elliot made both Dragonsong and Dragonsinger into musical plays for Children’s Adventure Theatre.
8) Q: Was your book ‘A Time When’ incorporated into the Pern series? If so, was the name changed, and is it still available for purchase?
A: â€œA Time Whenâ€ was first printed as a limited edition and is now a collector’s item. It was incorporated into THE WHITE DRAGON, so you’re ahead of the game if you have that novel.
9) Q: What research materials are available about Anne McCaffrey?
A: A very useful critical analyses of my work can be found in Robin Roberts’ text entitled “Anne McCaffrey, A Critical Companion”, printed in 1996 by Greenwood Press.
“Something About The Author, Vol. II”, published by Gale Publishing and written with young readers in mind, contains my autobiography complete with photographs.
And here are two other good sources of information on me and my work:
“Anne McCaffrey: Science Fiction Story Teller” by Martha Trachtenberg; released by Enslow Publishers, Inc., in 2001.
“Dragonholder The Life and Dreams (So Far) of Anne McCaffrey By Her Son” by Todd McCaffrey, Published by Del Rey/Ballantine Books, November 1999.
Also very useful is Mathew D. Hargreaves’ self-published bibliography about me titled: “Anne Inez McCaffrey, Forty Years of Publishing. An International Bibliography”.
9) If you’re looking for information for a school project or report, scroll down towards the bottom of this page. There’s a whole section of useful questions and answers there!
10) Q: If I wanted to read your Pern series in chronological order what book would I start with?
A: I really think you should start the series with DRAGONFLIGHT, as that was the first work that introduced Pern to the world. I know you then have to jump back in time when you read, for instance, DRAGONâ€™S DAWN, but I think DRAGONFLIGHT is the best starting off point.
11) Q: What is the chronological order of all Pern books?
A: Hans van der Boom has compiled a PDF reading order that you may download by clicking here. It’s updated through to Skies of Pern, but very comprehensive and will be useful to those who have been waiting so patiently for it to return. This should help!
12) Q: Are there any Pern short stories?
A: Yes, quite a few! We’re working on the list of Pern novellas and short stories, and will be adding it again as soon as we’re finished. It will be quite a bit easier to find this time!
13) Q: Would you autograph some of your books for me?
A: Past experiences with the postal systems here and abroad have taught me, the hard way, that it’s no longer wise to accept reader’s own copies of my novels for autographing. In fact, I broke my own rule some months back and agreed to sign six first-edition copies of my books for a charity auction. The books were sent via an international courier service but nonetheless arrived sodden and completely ruined. Sadly, I couldn’t replace those editions as they’re impossible to find.
14) Q: Will you be touring again any time soon?
A: All things going well, I plan to attend Eurocon in 2007. See you there!
15) Q: Who was your greatest influence as a writer?
A: If I were asked to choose which influence was the most important in my life, I’d have to answer that it was my parents. Neither fit the patterns of style and behavior in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s for our middle-class status.
As a young girl, I was an opinionated, asocial, extroverted, impossible egregious brat whose primary friends were books! The early lessons I learned, generally the hard way, in standing up for myself and my egocentricities, being proud of being ‘different,’ doing my own thing, gave me the strength of purpose to continue doing so later in life. You learn how not to conform, how to avoid labels. But it isn’t easy! It’s lonely until you realize that you have inner resources that those of the herd mentality cannot enjoy. That’s where the mind learns the freedom to think science-fictiony things.
16) Q: Are there any other authors you can recommend?
A: In alphabetical order, I unreservedly recommend Greg Bear, Lois McMaster Bujold, Orson Scott Card, Dave Duncan, Robin Hobb, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Elizabeth Moon, Robert Sawyer, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Robert Silverberg, Sharon Shinn, Victoria Strauss, and David Weber.
17) Q: What books would you recommend to a young reader who has never read any science fiction or fantasy before?
A: I’m sure you’ve probably read the Harry Potter books which I thoroughly enjoyed but if you haven’t read them yet, please do! Another series you might like is by Diane Duane and her â€œSo You Want to Be a Wizardâ€ series. I actually appear in one of them.
The best place to start reading my work is with the Pern series. â€œThe Smallest Dragonboyâ€, is a good introduction to the series and itâ€™s often taught in English literature classes in the USA. As well as being included in many school textbooks, this short story was included in an anthology of my stories Ballantine Books/Del Rey released in November 2002. This beautifully bound hardcover edition also includes wonderful illustrations by Tom Kidd.
Another good starting off point for the Pern series is with DRAGONSONG, which is the first novel in what is now known as The Harper Hall trilogy.
18) Q: What advice would you offer to a budding writer?
A: My advice to a budding writer is to write about that which you know. Work out what the main struggle of the book is…finishing a war, finding something unusual, reaching a destination fraught with dangers along the way.
Perfect your spelling and use of grammar and syntax, because an editor/publisher won’t look at a manuscript if those basic ingredients aren’t evident. Plan your story in your head or on paper, and then sit down and write as much as you can before reviewing and/or amending your work. It takes time to hone your skill as a writer so you have to be patient with yourself. And do try and let the story flow rather than twitch and tweak every sentence.
The main thing is sitting down and actually writing. That takes discipline and that’s what most people have little of. Just sitting down for an allotted time each day and WRITING. No one can help you with that task but it is the main ingredient in being a successful writer. DOING IT and TELLING A STORY.
19) Q: How can I get my story published?
A: It depends on what type of work you produce. Publishers specialize in genres of fiction (or non-fiction) hence you should know if you’re sending your work to a publisher who deals in that genre.
The Writers of the Future offers a valid quarterly short story (fiction) contest which you may enter frequently. The address is L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of The Future Contest, P.O. Box 1630, Los Angeles, CA 90078. If you win you get a small chunk of money! And don’t forget that there are many other writing competitions to be found in magazines, periodicals and similar publications.
Now go for it, and good luck!
20) Q: Do you plan to write more in the Crystal Singer Series?
A: As you know, Killashandra is a complex character and even harder to write about. I’ll admit that I’ve fairly well exhausted my cache of ideas about her. But who knows? Someday Killashandra may have another story she wants me to tell.
21) Q: Will there ever be a sequel to Restoree?
A: “Restoree” was a once-off jab at the way women were portrayed in science-fiction. Don’t forget that book was published in 1967. I have no need to write a sequel since it served its purpose of an intelligent, survivor-type woman as the protagonist of an S-F story.
22) Q: Why are the people of Pern not religious?
A: As you probably realize, during a terrible war situation people either cling as their last hope to the religion of their choice, or they become agnostic, losing their belief in a Good, Kindly Wise Deity who has allowed such atrocities to happen to innocent people.
The colonists who went with Admiral Benden and Governor Boll were of the second type, especially from groups who had suffered from atrocities committed BECAUSE of religion: notice what’s happening in Kosovo and Iran. What happened to the Mormons in the USA? So no ORGANIZED religion was brought to Pern and none was set up. There is however, a strong ethical code among the colonists and by this they govern their lives and interactions. Not even thread was allowed to alter these precepts.
23) Q: May I set up an online Pern or Freedom series role playing game?
A: The rules for online role playing games have been changed — maybe since you saw them last! Please take a look at the current rules on this page.
24) Q: May I set up an online fan fiction site?
A: The rules for online fan fiction sites changed along with the role playing rules — please take a look at the current rules on this page.
25) Q: What do I have to do to set up an offline role playing game or fan fiction site?
At the risk of being repetitive, you might want to take another look at this page. It covers a lot of great new changes that have been made!
26) Q: If I encounter a website that appears to be operating without approval, what do I do?
A: Because of the new rules found on this page, approval is no longer explicitly needed. However, sites can be approved for inclusion on our fanlinks page by emailing email@example.com.
Questions for School Projects or Reports
Here are some questions I often get asked about writing as a career. If you have any other questions that havenâ€™t been answered below, please take a close look at the rest of the FAQ section. And good luck with your report!
9-A) Q: Why did you choose writing as a career?
A: When I was a young girl I dreamed of being a ballet dancer, or a singer, or an author. I learned early on that I was going to grow too tall to pursue ballet. And later, as an adult, I realized that I wasnâ€™t going to make the grade as a top class opera singer, even after nine years of training my voice with a professional tutor. Now, I was always a voracious reader, and at about the same time that I realized I would no longer be pursuing singing as a career, I was reading a great deal of (as it was then known) â€œpulpâ€ fiction. I felt that I could write better stories myself; tales where the female characters didnâ€™t cower in the corner while their â€œheroâ€ beat off the bad guys, but got right in the middle of the fight, kicking and swinging along-side the man. So I wrote RESTOREE, which was first published back in 1967. Those of you whoâ€™ve read it will have realized that I was poking fun at all the cliched tales that had portrayed women as cowering whimps.
9-B) Q: What education/training do you need to become a writer?
A: A good education is a big bonus, particularly if you know how to spell, use good grammar and syntax, AND if you have a good story you want to tell. If you complete a college education youâ€™ve had a good start because all the papers and reports youâ€™ll have to write will help you hone your skill as a writer â€“ really! A good imagination is a big bonus, too!
9-C) Q: What salary can an author expect to earn?
A: It all depends on your story. If youâ€™ve written the next Harry Potter-type tale, and you have a very good agent, you can earn a great deal of money. But there are very few authors who reach that level of income. Honest!
9-D) Q: What is the starting off salary for an author?
A: Not a great deal of money, it all depends on the deal your agent negotiates with the publishers.
9-E) Q: What is your annual salary?
A: Thatâ€™s really a need-to-know question: Only my bank manager and I need to know the answer to that one!
9-F) Q: Is it hard to get a book published?
A: Yes, itâ€™s very difficult to break into the publishing industry. Arm yourself with a thick skin and a large measure of resolve. Oh, and donâ€™t let your first rejection slip detour you from your course; rejection slips are part and parcel of the industry.
9-G) Q: May I have your home address, please? As part of my project I need to write a letter to you and send it through the postal system.
A: Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and weâ€™ll be happy to help you.
9-H) Q: What is your favorite book?
A: One of my favorite books is â€œKimâ€, by Rudyard Kipling, which I reread every year. Kipling was a fabulous story-teller. Another favorite of mine is Islandia by Austin Tappen Wright.
9-I) Q: Are your books considered to be fantasy or science fiction?
A: I write science-fiction, (s-f for short). Fantasy usually contains some form of magic. I stick to newtonian logic.