Hello, dragon fans. The author was saddened this week to learn of the death of the novelist Anne McCaffrey, who passed away at home, in Ireland, at the age of 85. If you're wondering who this lady is, then you clearly haven't read her books. The author is often asked if he can recommend other novels or another series of books for his fans to read. And while he will frequently point them in the way of Tolkien or the two Philips Reeve & Pullman, or even Patrick Ness and Jonathan Stroud, when it comes to dragons it's either Christopher Paolini, of course, or the wonderful Anne McCaffrey. Waaay back before Eragon was finding dragon eggs, Anne McC was writing fantastic books about a planet she called 'Pern'. Does that name ring any bells? Remember the alternative planet in Fire World, Co:pern:ica? This was inspired by the scientist, Copernicus. But there was also a nod in there to Anne McC. The author read most of her novels shortly after marrying Mrs Author, who was a huge SF fan. The books are a kind of science fiction/fantasy cross. Most of them have the word 'dragon' in the title (Dragonsong, Dragonflight, The White Dragon etc.) A good one to begin with is Dragonsdawn, which tells how Pern was colonized by settlers from Earth. Pern is a lush, glorious planet full of vegetation, but is under threat from something called 'Thread', these are spores that fall from space like rain and destroy organic matter. The only things that can combat Thread are fire lizards. They can burn the spores (and do a heck of a lot more as well). Realising the lizards themselves are not enough to protect the planet, the colonizing scientists genetically upgrade them into full blown dragons. These dragons are ridden by humans who can bond with them telepathically, hence giving the major series its memorable name: The Dragonriders of Pern. If you haven't read any of these books and you're stuck for something one day, pop into your local library and ask to borrow one. They're probably most suited to 'young adults'.
Talking of libraries, you perhaps remember that a couple of weeks ago the author visited Teignmouth Community College to open the new library in the primary school. If anyone from TCC is reading this, hello! It was a lovely morning, thank you. And the new library was brilliant. I thought for one moment it might all go horribly wrong when the author produced a piece of genuine dragon scale and invited a boy up from the audience to touch it. As any dragon enthusiast will know, touching dragon skin when you're not used to it is liable to set your hair on fire. Fortunately, the boy survived with nothing more than warm hands and intriguing memories. The author only allowed him to touch the scale briefly, which made the boy go 'ooh'. People have since told us the boy has been seen in school with steam coming out of his ears, but we don't believe a word of it... (a-hem).
You'll be pleased to hear that editing on THE FIRE ASCENDING is 90% done. Just a few more tweaks then off to the printer it goes. The author was asked on Twitter if he'd put up a picture of the cover. Click on the link at the top of the page you'll go straight to it. Very soon, we'll put up a piece of sample text, but this will have to be approved by the publisher first. In the meantime, here's a pic of our hero at Teignmouth, showing where ideas come from - a pinboard behind his head! Until next time. Happy reading. Hrrr!