Those of you who know me in real life (and maybe some of you who don't) may be aware that I have *ehem* a small book problem. Or rather, a large book problem. To be more specific, a large collection of what my husband lovingly* refers to as "trashy science fiction". I can trace the origins of this problem directly to two people: my father, who (perhaps by intention?) put his extensive sci-fi collection within easy reach (Thanks Dad!) and, more indirectly, my Aunt Laura.

We moved to Boston when I was seven, and there I discovered my aunt's fabulous house and her books. Oh the books. Hallways and rooms covered floor to ceiling with packed bookshelves, which she was more then happy to loan to me. It was like my own private library. And one of the first authors she introduced me to was Anne McCaffrey. She handed me "Dragonsinger" and that was it - I was hooked. I read it cover to cover, barely pausing to take a breath, and then I went out and read all the other Pern books I could find. And then the Crystal Singer series, and then The Ship Who Sang. And on, and on, and on.

In sixth grade, my very writing-centric teacher had us all write a letter to our favorite authors, and I chose her. I sent off my letter, and lo and behold, some months later, I got a reply. That she had actually written (or dictated - it was typed) and signed and sent to me. This was heady stuff for a ten year old, and I was thrilled. I wanted to have green eyes and white hair and live on a farm in Ireland and write books about dragons when I grew up.

My eyes are still blue, and my hair is going a bit grey around the edges, and I don't live on a farm - London is as close as I've managed to get to Ireland, and the books I've managed to write typically don't have dragons in them. I have spent the intervening 30-odd years since that first introduction obsessively reading and rereading Anne's fantastically accessible and thoroughly engaging books. And I still enjoy them every single time. In this season of thankfulness and celebration, I would like to say "Thank you Anne. Thank you so very much. You will be missed."

* Really. It's loving when he says this. I promise...