The Wise Novelist

McCaffreys In The Library (Who Would Have Believed It?!)

If you are new to my blogs you probably haven’t heard this story, but yesterday made me think of it again.

When I was a young man I came across a book by an author named Anne McCaffrey. Its title was Dragonflight.

I was instantly fascinated that someone from my extended Clan – we all come from the same area of Northern Ireland – had written a novel. I recall that the humans in the book formed telepathic bonds with their dragons. I desperately wished I had such a dragon of my own.

I’ve come very close, I have Claire.

Of course, I later learned AM had written many novels.

Turns out that AM considered herself a Sci-Fi writer, while many also considered her a fantasy writer.

But I had bought that particular novel and read it a few times and then kept it propped on my bookshelf in Aunt Violet’s Flop House. (I had scrounged the bookshelf from the garbage of one of the many nice homes in Westchester – one’s garbage/ another’s treasure – during one of my school bus routes back in the 70s. I hauled a lot of furniture in my school bus.)

After I hand-wrote Ode To Murray Collins, about the young gifted, talented and funny friend who had occupied my room at AVFH before me, before passing tragically, I scrounged an old desk on garbage day along my Westchester bus route and bought a portable manual typewriter for $5.00 at a yard sale. I typed out a few short stories which invariably included a mystical bent. I was drawn to ghosts, and humans with magical abilities, etc. You write what you know. Once another friend passed, I wrote Why Kings Die, which ultimately became one of the chapters in Finding Jimmy Moran. An event involving the purloining of bovine artwork led to the writing of There’s No Cows In Riverdale, which exercised my dark comic gene, also made it into FJM.

(This is where I must reiterate the PSA that FJM is completely fictional)

I never had the balls to try a novel. I was learning to walk, not run. Novels were scary. Short stories were manageable.

But as I lay in bed at night, or when lucky, during the day, I used to stare at AM’s book on my bookshelf and imagine what it must look like to have a novel with my name on it sitting on a shelf beside hers. When Lisa came into my life, I would share that dream with her. She always said that it would happen (she’s a Wallen Witch). She believed in me. God bless that woman. Patience of a saint. Love you, Li (pron. “Lee”).

Fast forward over 45 years (picture those calendar pages tearing away).

I was standing in the Berthoud Post office, posting an inscribed copy of TWA to Colin Broderick (brilliant Irish novelist/memoirist, screenwriter and director), who promised to hand deliver it to a member of Hollywood blood royalty (I want to be CB when I grow up – –, when a woman overheard my Bronx accent during my always animated conversation with my friend Kurt, the jovial postal employee, and asked if I was a writer. Now that was absolutely thrilling. She told me she had enjoyed my reading at the Berthoud Library, again, another thrill, and recognized my unique (polite for nasal) voice. We had a few laughs and, afterwards, as I was exiting the USPO, I glanced over at the Berthoud Library which is located literally across the railroad tracks.

I have a car (the Toyota Rav 4 from the series) full of really nice books that my son Luke left behind, so I figured I would ask the Library if I could donate it all to them (after all, Luke wrote his first novel here in Berthoud before emigrating to Oz). Turns out I can, and will do so, next Tuesday at 10 am. I have to get there early because they only do it once a month and only take 6 boxes of books. I have 6 boxes in my car.

Once I made those arrangements, I took a moment to stroll through the adult fiction aisle and, low and behold, for the first time ever, saw physical copies of my books on a wooden bookshelf right next to Anne McCaffrey’s series. (actually my son Luke McCaffrey’s novel, Lebanon Red, an amazing book, sits between AM’s books and my series. Close enough.) Note that KMAG was out on loan.

Interestingly enough, Anne’s son, Todd McCaffrey, is also a writer.

Todd is just six months older than me (Irish Twins – Quantum Entanglement), and also likes promotional hats. He appears on some of those novels as a collaborator with his mother, as well as written a number of his own, so this shelf is just one happy multi-generational McCaffrey family book fest.

And while our writing styles are quite different, my books also have a strong Sci-Fi/Fantasy bent to them.

So, I’ve come a long way from Aunt Violet’s Flop House in the Bronx, but as I sit here now I can picture AM’s Dragonflight perched on that small, reclaimed, bookshelf. And now I have the above photos to prove that all dreams come true, if you believe in magic, and you never, ever, give up.

Must not fail to mention a dear writer friend Kerry F. Freeman, whose wonderful debut novel, Sedona, drops on November 15th, sent me a tear rendering review of WTLLM, so I asked her to write a forward for the book (never did that before). Thanks Kerry, and good luck with Sedona, which is an amazing book that I highly recommend.

Well, that was fun (at least for me).

So, here we are at another Saturday. I have my weekend chores and some more editing to do. No rest for the wicked.

But first a kitty to cuddle and my rounds.

I hope you fine, five readers have something more fun on your schedules.

But no matter what else we accomplish, let’s make today a great one.

Belated Happy Birthday to my youngest sibling, John. The nicest and best looking of us all. Love you brother.

8 Responses

    1. TD you actually lived at AVFH for a while with Sue W, right? You should check with Lenny, I’m pretty sure your name is in the Official Guest Book as well. I understand he may auction the book off via Sotheby’s once enough heat builds around The Claire Saga. Oh, the good old days. . . .

      1. Yes, Sue and I moved in when you left. But as you know, Violet and the grandmother didn’t want girls there, so we didn’t tell them. Worked well till one day I’m coming home early from work to get to a wake. Grandma sweeping hallway. “Joe and Mark no here, come later.” I couldn’t enter the apartment, luckily Mark turned up about half an hour later and I made it.

        1. That’s right, we kept a stash of fake moustaches and goatees hidden behind the bottom flight of the stairs in order to sneak females past the ever watchful AV. If the walls of AVFH could talk.

  1. That’s something alright. From dreaming while looking at a McCaffrey name on a bookshelf …. to 45 years later seeing YOUR name along with Luke’s name actually on the shelf in the public library. What a journey!

    And even though I wasn’t there the night the cow statues were supposedly dragged up the street behind what I heard might have been a school bus and then temporarily located in a neighborhood yard, that still remains one of my favorite highlights of the stories from back in that time …. that were just fun fiction of course!

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