I've written romance since I was a teenager, but the idea of mixing romance with paranormal themes didn't occur to me until I read the Dragonriders of Pern® series by Anne McCaffrey. Anne's books were not full out romance, but rather sf/paranormal with romantic elements but they inspired me to write nonetheless. Why? I discovered the Pern fan culture. Rabid fans who created their own characters and wrote about them using rules specified by the DragonLady herself. It was incredible. Incredible fun and a great proving ground for me as a writer.
Anne's first dragonrider book was published in 1967 so her unique world is celebrating a 40th anniversary this year. Talk about longevity. Not only that, but how many writers can pass a writing legacy on to their children. Oh their royalties, sure. But their world? Anne's son Todd has taken over the reins of her worlds and has written several novels in his own right now.
Why am I so taken with her world and why did it inspire me to write? The characters. Anne writes amazing, complex characters that recognize shades of gray. LOTS of gray. I also love the way her characters could look at life and see humor. I loved Lessa with all her prickly edges and sarcastic humor and I wished I could steal F'lar from her. Now there was a hot dragonrider!
Anne's Dragonrider series was one of the first where m/m relationships were accepted. A daring breakthrough in 1967. Now m/m romance is all the rage. What goes around comes around...so to speak.
Pern fandom was a blast. It was one of the first times I met people from all over the place via the computer. This was the bad ole days when AOL was huge and hugely expensive (2.95 a minute) using dial up and I often had to call a long distance number to access things on top of it. Ouch. But it was worth it because I met equally obsessive Pern fans who wanted to create their own characters on Pern. I even went to DragonCon and met a bunch of them about ten years ago. A community of writers to brainstorm and collaborate with - could there be anything cooler? Early versions of social networking.
I value the experiences and the friends I made then and I want to wish Anne McCaffrey a happy 40th Pern anniversary. To find out more about Pern fandom, please visit The Pern Museum and Archives. Any other Pern or Anne McCaffrey fans out there? Sound off and leave a comment or two!