Working on the blog for WDW Radio has given me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, from noted Disney personalities to some of the most amazing friends I could ask for.
Two and a half years ago, WDW Radio hosted an online Disney-based book club, and I excitedly discovered that an author named A.C. Crispin was writing the official “prequel” to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. In The Price of Freedom, a massive tome, author Ann Carol (A.C.) Crispin elaborately and thoughtfully told the story of how Captain Jack Sparrow became the pirate we all love.
When reading of its impending publication, I discovered that the author would be holding a launch party at Balticon, a Comic-Con-like event in Baltimore. As Baltimore is just a 3 hour jaunt from NJ, I hopped into the minivan and jetted down to meet her and explain about the WDW Radio Book Club. (I detail the event in this link.) Ann was a gracious and fun host and listened with great attention as I explained the book club. She signed some books for me and invited me to follow her on Facebook.
Our book club proceeded through the summer of 2011, and I did follow Ann, sending her links to the group’s discussion questions throughout those warm months. As I followed her, well after our discussion of Price of Freedom ended, I learned more about her life, her interests, and her career in writing. Always having been someone who wanted to be a writer, I loved her posts and advice to aspiring writers in her series, Writer Beware. She truly cared about and nurtured aspiring writers.
I also learned that her Disney connection spanned well beyond everyone’s favorite pirate; she also had written numerous works about Star Wars, including a three-piece prequel detailing Han Solo’s pre-Star Wars life. However, more importantly, I discovered that as a person, she is like so many individuals within the Disney community: devoted to family, thoughtful, and kind… a fun person who worked hard but knew how to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. I grew to consider her that new phenomenon, courtesy of today’s social media–a Facebook friend, which in so many ways (for me anyway) is just as real as a friend you know and meet on a regular basis.
It’s because of this new kind of friendship that I distinctly remember Ann’s Facebook post announcing she had bladder cancer. I cheered her on, virtually, through her fight. And fight she did. She updated her page with blood counts and radiation stories, and she related her fears and determination to fight. She commented on movies she had the strength to see with her husband and remarked on the beautiful weather. For nearly two years, I followed her fight.
This past July, Ann posted that she would be unable to attend the San Diego Comic Con, where she was to be presented with the Grand Master Award for excellence in tie-in writing, and she posted her acceptance remarks to her page. I remember my heart aching for someone who clearly had so much talent; I could not imagine the pain and disappointment of being unable to be present when being bestowed such an honor. And it was then, that I realized my Facebook friend was nearing the end of her fight.
Ann was quiet for much of the rest of the summer. And then, last week, I felt my breath taken away by this, her final post:
“I’ve been hesitant to make this post, but it’s time. I want to thank you all for your good wishes and prayers. I fear my condition is deteriorating. I am doing the best I can to be positive but I probably don’t have an awful lot of time left. I want you all to know that I am receiving excellent care and am surrounded by family and friends.
I wish all aspiring writers the will to finish and a good contract. Please continue to monitor Writer Beware and be careful who you sign with. Victoria Strauss and Richard White are there to help.
I’ve asked Michael to collect and read me your messages. As I don’t know how things will proceed, I don’t know if I’ll have the strength to post on Facebook again.”
I cried. For the unfairness. For the villainous disregard cancer has for people. For the loss of talent. For the pain my Facebook friend was enduring.
Ann passed away two days later, Friday September 6.
I only met A.C. Crispin once, but I mourn her passing. She was a talented and amazing writer, and added to our collective experience within the Disney community. As someone who loves to write, I marvel at her body of work, the last major piece of which, sadly, is the one that brought me to know her: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom.
Please join me in saluting this wonderful woman, taken all too soon–like so many–from this earth.