In fact, I can see distinct parallels between crystal singing and writing fiction. Here’s an extract from the first chapter, when Killashandra meets a crystal singer on holiday and asks how she can apply to join the guild:
Carrick smiled sadly. “You don’t want to be a crystal singer…. you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for. Singing crystal is a terrible, lonely life. You can’t always find someone to sing with you, the tones don’t always strike the right vibes for the crystal faces… of course you can make terrific cuts singing duo.”
“How do you find out?”
He gave an amused snort. “The hard way, of course. But once you sing crystal, you don’t stop, That’s why I’m telling you, don’t even think about it.”
And later, Killashandra asks about finances:
“You don’t get off-world with every trip into the ranges?”
He shook his head, frowning irritably at her interruption. “You don’t always clear the costs of the trip, or past damages. Or you might not have cut the right shape or tone. Sometimes tone is more important than shape.”
“And you have to remember what’ll be needed.”
This is apparently as difficult for a crystal singer as for an author, who can both forget the real world when they get caught up in the enchantment of their own work.
Other Anne McCaffrey books I’ve loved are the Dragonriders of Pern series, which are really independent books set on the same planet. The ones that shine in my memory are Dragonsinger, which tells the story of the bullied girl Menolly, who travels to the Harper Hall on a dragon’s back and becomes one of the most important harpers on Pern, and The White Dragon, which I reviewed here.
Other Anne McCaffrey books I’ve enjoyed include "Restoree", "Decision at Doona", "The Ship Who Sang", and some great short story collections "To Ride Pegasus" and "Get off the Unicorn". (Muse: I should think so, too!)
The author named her house in Ireland “Dragonhold” after her Pern books, and I hope that whoever lives there in the future keeps the name. Rest in peace, Anne McCaffrey, and thank you for all the wonderful worlds and characters you created. My teenage years would have been so much emptier without your books. I was your number one fan!