Celebrating my Friend, Ann Crispin
It is very weird to be writing this about Ann Crispin, but now that she has gone public with how serious how illness is, I thought it better to put down my thoughts while she is still here to hopefully see them.
Ann has been a working professional for some 35 years and I first met her through Howard Weinstein and the Shore Leave shows. Ann was a local, showing up during the con’s early years. She and Howie were already friends so she was very welcoming to me, just beginning my career. During her years as SFWA’s East Coast liaison, we made sure to spend some time prior to the annual holiday reception (dubbed the Mill & Swill) and a long-term friendship developed.
By then, she was writing Star Trek novels which led to the offer for her to pen a novelization to the V miniseries. The contract called for a second book, an oirginal but Ann, never the swiftest of writers, couldn’t meet the deadline alone. She and Howie paired up for V: East Coast Crisis and since I guess I kibitzed here and there, was honored to have the book dedicated to me.
Ann was a fan of Starlog so we had a lot in common during my tenure there and then, when my work at DC created opportunities to write my own prose, she was always encouraging. Her support was ongoing and she celebrated each step I made toward having a writing career of my own.
Life meant months would go by between contacts but then came the phone call or email and we’d pick up as if little time had passed at all. She delighted in Kate and Robbie, marveling as they grew up. She was particularly tickled that Kate devoured her Han Solo trilogy.
When Robbie got sick, Ann was in the process of writing her Jack Sparrow novel for Disney so honored him with naming the young sidekick after him. She told him about it, showing him some pages, but a variety of factors delayed the book so he never got to see the finished product. But I cherish my autographed copy from my friend.
Ann was not a prolific author but a steady one and I was pleased to see her Starbridge series of novels resurrected recently, allowing a new generation to discover them. In some ways, it was ahead of its time as the YA boom came after the series wound down and the media world missed out on a chance to bring it to wider audiences.
I learned of her cancer over a year ago and we chatted now and then, but rarely about the disease and more about writing. She knew her years were suddenly limited and she wanted to be very selective about what to write next. Unfortunately, the treatments took its toll and as we learned earlier this week, she was unable to complete anything new.
There are countless writers who owe Ann a debt for the work she has done through the years for Writer Beware, exposing and chasing away predatory agents and editors. She suffered abuse and legal actions, sapping her time and money, but she refused to give in and stood up to them until she grew too sick to continue.
Readers can continue to enjoy her creations now that the digital age allows her works to live on. I wish Ann could be around far longer to enjoy that. I wish my friend was able to greet me with a smile and hug at the next con.