Dragonholder: The Life and Dreams (so Far) of Anne McCaffrey

Dragonholder: The Life and Dreams (so Far) of Anne McCaffrey

by Todd J. McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345422170
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/23/1999
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 7.53(w) x 9.51(h) x 0.62(d)

About the Author

Todd McCaffrey is Anne McCaffrey's son. He works in the computer field and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.

Read an Excerpt

When I was nine years old, I started reading science fiction. My first book was Space Cat by Ruthven Todd. I really loved the whole Space Cat series. I loved it so much that I decided to write a fan letter to the author. He never replied. My mother was upset by that and vowed to answer all her fan mail.

She still does to this day. Her first fan was an eighty-year-old veteran of the Royal Flying Corps of World War One, named Pat Terry. He was paralyzed from the waist down and had to write lying on his back with a notepad held at arm?s length. With such dedicated fans as him, it was not at all hard to find the time to respond. As the number of her fans increased, my mother had to spend less time responding to fan mail?or else spend less time writing the new books every letter clamored for!

I remember her proudly showing me her copy of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction with "The Lady in the Tower" in it. All I saw was a magazine with a picture of a banana floating on a field of stars?nothing at all like the picture of a cat romping in a spacesuit on the moon.

As the years passed (and her covers got better) I became a voracious reader of Anne McCaffrey. I even claim the distinction of being the very first person to read the individual pages of The White Dragon as it came out of Mum's IBM Selectric typewriter.

While you've been to Pern--met Lessa in her lonely fight against Fax, cried with joy for the smallest dragonboy, marveled at Robinton's wit and humor, laughed with Menolly and her gay ways--you haven?t heard the stories behind the stories.

I propose to fix that.

I suppose we ought to get acquainted, oughtn't we? I am Todd Johnson McCaffrey, Anne McCaffrey's middle child. I am the person who, aged twelve, writhed with anticipated teenaged taunts when his mother suggested dedicating Decision at Doona "To my darling son, Todd." We settled on "To Todd Johnson--of course!"

All Anne's kids are "A" children, but while Alec and Gigi (Georgeanne) were born in August, I joined her in April. I arranged this by the rather unique expedient of being born more than a month late. For some reason, we kids were all inclined to the late twenties; Alec was born on the twenty-ninth and Gigi and I were both born on the twenty-seventh of our respective months. Sadly, this means that I missed my mother's famous April Fool's birth date.

Growing up, I was the first of Anne's children to read science fiction. Because of this, I went with her to many meetings with her fellow writers, editors, publishers, and agent, and also to several of the local science fiction conventions.

I remember once being refused entrance to our front room in Sea Cliff, Long Island, because Anne was brainstorming. And what did I think about dragons? she asked. Why dragons? I asked. Because they've had bad press all these years, was the answer. I went away very confused.

Writing is a strange job--both very lonely and very social. A whole new world inhabited with marvelous people in desperate situations is created, examined, and brought to life solely by oneself. A writer now myself, I am coming to understand those intense feelings of having people who are determined to be created knocking around inside your head.

In Sea Cliff, most of Anne's work was not done in the front room. She had a narrow room at the back of the first floor that was filled with books, filing cabinets, a table, a bed, and a typewriter--first a Hermes, later an IBM Selectric.

The house at 369 Carpenter Avenue, Sea Cliff, Long Island, was an old three-story Victorian. Old is a relative term; this house was about eighty years old when we moved in back in 1965. We shared its eighteen rooms and ten bathrooms with the Isbells, another Du Pont family--my father worked for Du Pont--who had also relocated from Wilmington, Delaware. It wasn't a commune, merely a practical way that two families could afford to live in that very expensive part of New York.

We split the house, with a front room for each family and shared access to the great dining room on special occasions like Christmas. It was a good, if sometimes difficult, arrangement. The Isbells had the front entrance, the first-floor kitchen, and most of the second floor, while we had the side entrance, the whole of the third floor, some of the second, and Anne's room in the back of the first floor.

There Anne wrote all the stories that would be collected as the novel Dragonflight and wrote her first attempt at its sequel, which her agent told her to burn--and she did. It was from Sea Cliff that she first ventured to Ireland, in 1968, accompanying her favorite aunt, Gladdie.

Aunt Gladdie was a hoot. She was an outgoing, kind person and we all loved her very much. Anne only found out on their European trip that Gladdie had suffered all her life from a spinal condition that caused her a great deal of pain. Gladdie dulled the pain by liberal application of alcohol, normally in the form of Scotch on the rocks; but any whiskey could be used in a pinch.

Gladdie stayed with us one Christmas at Sea Cliff. I recall that on New Year's Day, all the adults in the house--except my mother?were very "fragile" in the morning. Apparently they'd stayed up all night with Aunt Gladdie, trying to match her drink for drink. They'd failed. Gladdie cheerfully arrived for breakfast and nearly got throttled when, taking in their condition, she said sympathetically, "You know, I don't think I'd drink so much if I ever got a hangover!"

When Anne was younger, Gladdie would invite her up to her home in Winthrop, Massachusetts, for holidays. She felt that Anne didn't get as much attention as she needed. This was because Anne's younger brother had been hospitalized with osteomyelitis--an often fatal disease in those days before penicillin--and Anne's mother acted as his private nurse. Among other treats, when Anne was sent to Stuart Hall,  Aunt Gladdie sprang for the piano lessons Anne had begged for.

"She was the first person who had faith in me for myself alone," Anne says of her.

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Dragonholder 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
pinksstoneJG More than 1 year ago
Nice biography of the Lady who visioned Dragons and their purpose
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book keep me reading late into the night has I learned some of the stories in her writing and learned of her from her son.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, I know this wasn't by Anne herself, but it's about her. I really like it. Todd McCaffrey (her son) is an excellent writer, and I lovehis other books (HE HAS OTHER BOOKS!!!!) Now, if only it was in the front of the 16th Pern novel(Ms.McCaffrey- if you're reading this... *hint hint*)
Anonymous 16 days ago
Anne and her books got me through 14.5 years of sea duty. If not for her writing, I would have gone stir crazy on those long deployments. She was very gracious to reply to my letters. She even gayve me permission to call my home 'Pax Weyr'. Excelent book. I could not put it down. It was a pleasure to know fron whence Johnny Green came.
Harmless_Dilettante on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Dragonholder is a pleasant, chatty biography of his mother from Anne McCaffrey's younger son. The book is a bit awkward in places, most notably when Mr. McCaffrey uses nicknames like "our Anne" to refer to his mother rather than simply using mum, mom, or whatever term of endearment he uses in private life. It¿s a shame a good editor didn¿t step in and clean it up a bit. Still, Dragonholder is nice, quick read for the avid McCaffrey fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nothing much happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a waste of money
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont read the other reviews they spoil the book horribley so please buy it if u want 2 i dont care do what u want ____________________________________________________________________ Halo Reach fools! Skyhawk805 of the x-box 360