Interview with Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Anne McCaffrey is considered one of the world's leading science-fiction writers. She has won the Hugo and Nebula awards as well as six Science Fiction Book Club awards for her novels. Brought up in the United States, she is now living in Ireland with her Maine coon cats, her piebald mare, and a silver weimaraner and declines to travel anymore. She is best known for her unique Dragonriders of Pern series.

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is the author of twenty-three science fiction and fantasy novels, including the 1989 Nebula Award-winning Healer's War and the Powers series co-written with Anne McCaffrey, as well as the popular Godmother series and the Gothic fantasy mystery, The Lady in the Loch. She lives in a Victorian seaport town in western Washington with a lot of cats, beads, and computer stuff.

Acorna's Rebels takes us to the planet of Makahomia, Roadkill and Nadhari's home turf. Did you envision visiting Makahomia when you introduced those characters?

Acorna's Rebels by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Click here
for ordering information.
Well, we were sure that at some point we'd have to learn more about RK's origins and having him and Nadhari be homies seemed like a good idea. Since Nadhari was introduced as a minor character in the first two books that Anne and Margaret Ball wrote, and developed further in Anne and Elizabeth Ann's five collaborations to date, the original intent was probably different. E. Ann particularly liked Nadhari and the Harakamians of the secondary characters from the first two books. And both Ann/es love cats and writing about them, so a trip that both explained things about Nadhari's past and gave RK a chance to explore his inner deity seemed like a good idea.

What inspired the world of Makahomia?
The lands where they worship temple cats, of course, like Egypt and Thailand, with an intergalactic twist.

You introduce a raft of new characters with each new book, including this one. Do you have a favorite among your supporting characters over all? If so, who and why?

E. ANN: RK and Becker. Grandam was nice too. And the Ancestors.

ANNE MC: RK and Becker as well.

Among the new characters from this book, who is your favorite and why?

E. ANN: Although he has a fairly minor role, Scaradine McDonald has to be my favorite since he was a tribute to my Dad who passed away three years ago on Ground Hog's Day. I also like Miw-Sher and the temple cats, of course. They ARE feline after all.

ANNE MC: Not sure really. They're all fun.

Cats have been an essential part of the series, thanks to RK, for a long time. Did you base RK on one of your own cats? Which one, and how close is the portrait? If not, how did you create the character?

Actually, RK was based on a cat named Boo who owns E. Ann's friends Rick Reaser and Andi Logan. Rick, a jeweler, inspired Becker and Boo, who looks a lot like him, inspired RK. The portrait is pretty close to the real cat though Boo says he's much handsomer. RK came about when we decided Acorna should have another male friend who would introduce her to her true love. E. Ann thought a space junkman would be fun and mentioned it to Rick and his then-associate Steve Ream (the model for Stoney Reamer) at the jewelry shop... The boys said, "Well, the junk guy HAS to have a junk yard dog." We thought it over and decided a junk yard cat was much more down our (pardon the expression) alley and once the cat was invented, he introduced himself, telling us in no uncertain terms that his name was Roadkill.

Acorna has learned a lot since she set out into space. What is your favorite episode in her past life, and why?

E. ANN, I think my favorite episodes are in Acorna's Rebels so I can't say without spoiling the surprises. Otherwise, I would say that I most enjoy the scenes in which she interacts with the Ancestors.

ANNE MC: Likewise...unicorns are usually Annie S's special creatures, as dragons are mine but the Acornan Ancestors come very close for me.

Aari has been voyaging through time and space for some time. Will he finally make his appearance in Acorna's Rebels?

He does in an oblique way. There is quite a lot of time and space in which to voyage of course and he does have an odd traveling companion. Never fear, however: Acorna does learn what happened to him, more or less, and the next book is devoted to their reunion.

When you work with continuing characters in a series, is it different than working in a stand-alone book? How is it different, and how does it shape your writing?

Yes, working in a series is different than working in a stand-alone book. In some ways it is much more difficult. There is much more history to keep track of, for one thing, names and incidents and words in foreign languages, sequences of events, that sort of thing. You also have to try to find graceful ways to introduce material from former books that explains some of how your characters came to be in their current situation without divulging all the good stuff in the former books to people who read them out of order. On the other hand, working in a long series is great because it gives you a chance to develop your main characters and show different aspects of their personalities in how they react to adventures and new characters. It also allows you to develop supporting characters and tell their stories as well.

E. ANN: I've never been able to do a series that lasted longer than four books so this has been fun.

ANNE MC: It's always fun to run with a good basic notion and pull out all the stops, even some fairly wry ones. Both Annie and I have the same sense of humor, so we can rely on that to pull us, and our characters, out of difficult situations.

Posted with permission of the publisher.