by Phyllis Irene Radford
Many years ago, when I first started taking my writing seriously, my favorite author, Anne McCaffrey came to town. My husband called me from work to tell me he’d heard an advertisement on the radio and told me I had to go. No arguments, I had to go.
I gathered up my three favorite books to have autographed. The bookstore wouldn’t allow more. How to choose? Almost impossible. They were all favorites. The first of the Rowan books was just out, so I’d buy that in store and hope they let me through the line with Dragon Flight, Dragon Quest, and White Dragon, all in mass market paperback, much read and much beloved.
Like so many others, I arrived an hour early and stood in the line that wrapped around an entire block. As the time approached everyone in line began edging forward, not quite crowding, too excited and restless to stand still.
At last, ten minutes early, the line began to move. Slowly one step at a time we came closer and closer to our idol.
All that time in line I wondered what I would say to her, not wanting to be just another silent admirer, or collector of autographs. Neither did I want to intrude on her privacy or take up too much of her time.
When at last I lay my battered books in front of her I said that I’d just read The Book of Kells by R.A. MacAvoy and was that really Anne McCaffrey who made a cameo appearance?
“Why, of course it was,” she replied with a big smile; the kind of smile that could tame a dragon or take you time traveling. Then she related a cute anecdote about driving around Ireland in a mini and taking photos of road signs in the original Gaelic and sending those photos to Miss MacAvoy’s editor as proof that she hadn’t misspelled those names in the manuscript. What editor would dare Anglicize words after a slap on the hand by Anne McCaffrey?
Years later, after I’d sold several books, a mutual friend gave me “Lady Annie’s” private email address and I introduced myself.
She remembered our first meeting! Not long after that she returned to the states for corrective surgery. Thanks to that mutual friend (who made cameo appearances herself in McCaffrey books) Lady Annie took my first dragon trilogy with her to read while recuperating.
I met her several times after that and she always remembered me, but that first gracious smile of recognition from her over a humorous anecdote at a book signing is my favorite memory of a grand lady who allowed readers to immerse themselves in memorable stories and fascinating characters. She inspired many writers and helped some of us along with advice and quotable blurbs.
She and her work are beloved.
The world is a bit dimmer these days without her . There will more than a few tears shed at her memorial today. But her wonderful stories live on, ready for us to pass on to the next generation and the next.
Phyllis Irene Radford is a founding member of the Book View Cafe. For more about her and her fiction check out her bookshelf http://www.bookviewcafe.com/index.php/Phyllis-Irene-Radford/ or her personal website Irene Radford