Geek Girls Rule! #197 – Anne McCaffrey Saved My Life

Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey, author of the Pern books among many others, passed away Monday night.  She was 85.

When I met her at DragonCon, she was confined to a wheelchair, but still feisty as all get out.  When I started to cry, she scolded me:  “Don’t you cry!  Damn it!”  Instead I laughed, and then thanked her for saving my life as a miserable, outcast teen in Idaho.

Then we told a bunch of redneck jokes and felt better about things.

It means so very much to me that I got to thank her.  I’m not overstating the case, her books honestly did save my life.  In jr. high, I had developed early, which led to me being labeled a slut, even though I was still a virgin.  I had bad skin, terrible skin, that necessitated Accutane treatments.  While we were better off than we had been when I was a young child and my mom had to make a lot of our clothes, I still didn’t own any of the trendy labels or brands of the day.  First quarter of jr. high: Honor Roll, say no more.

This was the cover art on the edition in the library.

I spent a lot of time hiding in the library.  And that is where I discovered the Dragonsinger books.  I think I found them while shelving books during my library aide period.   The covers were bright and interesting, a red haired girl with little dragons (fire lizards) perched on her.  Those lead to the The Dragonriders of Pern books, and then 15 years later to me sobbing uncontrollably while reading The Masterharper of Pern.  Ms. McCaffrey’s characters, Menolly and Lessa, gave me hope and strength to carry on in the face of bullying that had reached pretty horrendous proportions.

From the Dragonrider books, I branched out to her SF, like The Ship Who Sang, and the Talents stories, which later led to the Tower and Hive series beginning with The Rowan.
Anne McCaffrey was a wonderful author, a very kind person, and a great influence on many, many people.  More than one person replied to my reblogging of her death announcement with, “She saved me, too.”

There is so much more I’d like to say, but so much of it feels so very personal, even for me, the Queen of TMI.  I loved her long before I met her.  She gave me hope.  She built wonderful worlds to which I escaped when real life was too ugly.

She understood.

Rest in peace, Ms. McCaffrey, you meant so very much, to so very many.  You were, and remain, my hero and an inspiration.  Thank you.


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2 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule! #197 – Anne McCaffrey Saved My Life

  1. I envy you for actually being able to meet her and talk to her. I found her books in Jr. High – when I was feeling very much the outsider and outcast. Her books and my horse helped pull me through difficult times and I still re-read them from time to time. They are comfort reads to me. I enjoyed a number of her other books/series as well – though many I have not read in a long time. I have re-read her Crystal Singer books though…

    Meh – just really grateful she wrote for as long as she did!

  2. As an outcast who grew up in western Wyoming, I feel that I can relate closely to growing up in Idaho. As a chubby kid in middle school, SF/F books were a welcome solace. There seems to be an unfair gender imbalance in this overlapping genre pairing as it is, without her passing.

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