Todd Johnson McCaffrey earned his first typewriter at age twelve by teaching himself touch-typing. He earned the typewriter so he could write. He’s been writing on and off ever since, with works ranging from an animation series screenplay (don’t ask!) to a New York Times Bestselling collaboration with the late Anne McCaffrey (“his ma”).
Is it a mixed blessing to be a scion of a fantasy writing legend? Yes. It helps less than people think: It can open doors, but that’s about it. On the good news side, it means that my writing will always be judged against Anne McCaffrey — which isn’t a bad thing, just a challenge. I once said to my mother, “My goal has to be to write better than you,” and she replied with a chuckle, “Good luck!”
Tell us about your latest book.
The “latest” book is always the one that I’m working on. The last Pern book was SKY DRAGONS, which was also the last collaboration with my mother. We’d agreed that it was the logical place for me to take a break from Pern (eight books in a row), and so I had just finished CITY OF ANGELS, my science thriller, shortly before my mother passed away. Her opinion was “I think you’ve got a blockbuster.” Since then, I’ve also published a collection of short stories, THE ONE TREE OF LUNA (and Other Stories), finished a YA novel, which is being shopped around, and am polishing a sci-fi spoof.
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
With every book I write, I hope that readers will get hours of enjoyment.
Henry: Mission accomplished.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
The next book is always better than the last one.
Henry: Great point. Cuttlefish never stop growing, and good writers never stop honing their craft.
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
Having someone “squee!” over meeting me.
Henry: It’s true. Like the Hugo Award, being the recipient of a “squee” is a literary merit badge.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write because you can’t NOT write. Most writers do not get rich or famous – don’t write for those reasons.
Henry: That’s a great point. It is vital that aspiring authors take the time to understand what’s motivating them to write.
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?
Nope. I take Louis L’Amour’s challenge seriously: I can write anywhere, anytime.
Henry: In a pool of sharks with frickin’ lasers beams attached to their heads?
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to fly. I dream about it a lot.
Henry: The Surgeon General has determined that writing books featuring dragons may lead to flight dreams.
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
Usually, it’s whoever I can get.
Henry: Best. Answer. Ever.
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature? You are not allowed to choose dragons.
I’m not an absolute sort of person, so I don’t have a favorite.
Henry: My “no dragons” rule messed you up, I fear.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read. And really the question should be:
What do you like to do when you’re not reading? Write
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
This space is empty.
Henry: Ah, cheating old Charon. Well played, sir.
Where can readers find your work?
“At all fine booksellers,” in both real and eBook format.
This interview is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.