When I heard that Shawn Speakman was compiling and editing an anthology to help raise funds to pay for the medical debt he incurred while undergoing cancer treatments, I immediately let him know that I would be happy to help him in any way I could when the time came to promote the book. As most of you know, my mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I did work on my own SFF anthology to raise funds for cancer research a few years back.
Now that Unfettered will soon be released, I'm pleased to welcome Shawn to the Hotlist and post this guest blog he came up with.
Patrick Rothfuss is a bearded god among mortals.
Thankfully, he has a gooey heart that prevents any world domination he could possibly execute and easily get away with.
I have known Rothfuss for years now, our first meeting right after The Name of the Wind was published. He was a newbie author with a beard cut short for publicity purposes and a wit that insured our friendship. He’s one of three authors writing right now that makes me want to quit. That’s right. He is so damn talented with words that to read his work hurts the wordsmithery in my own heart. For that alone, from one writer to another, I look up to him.
Believe it or not though, I admire the man even more than his work. I know. Blasphemy. But he gives. A lot. He gives of his time; he gives of his money. He has created one of the most wonderful charities in Worldbuilders, raising money for Heifer International to rid the world of poverty and hunger through sustainability measures. He actively works at making the world a better place, melding his hundreds of thousands of worldwide fans into a charity machine of great influence and power.
I admire him for making the world better and pushing others to do the same—so much I will never be able to express it in words.
And of course, he rallied to me when I needed him most.
When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, I knew I was in trouble. And not for the reasons you might think. I’m a tough bastard and the diagnosis did not scare me. Ten years earlier, I had a different cancer and kicked the proverbial shyte out of it. I would do it again in 2011. No, I was troubled by my lack of health insurance. As a freelance writer and webmaster, I couldn’t afford health insurance with my pre-existing condition. I knew I was going to rack up a massive medical debt during three surgeries and chemotherapy. And likely have to claim medical bankruptcy for it.
I needed a plan. After talking to my friend Terry Brooks about it, he offered to donate a short story. He also suggested I contact my other writer friends in hopes of building an anthology, the donated stories used to pay down that medical debt. Terry was a huge beginning, obviously. He’s been a bestselling writer for 36 years and has garnered the respect of fans, writers, and industry professionals. I needed to pick a second writer though—one who had a similar level of respect, someone who would help draw other writers into the anthology beyond my own need.
I chose Rothfuss. The first time we met, we talked at length about how cancer had touched our lives. I knew that he would understand my plight when others might not—and that’s why the very next email I sent out would be to him.
Rothfuss readily agreed. He would write a story. It would be set in his Four Corners world. It would be something very different than what had come before. It might take him a while to finish the story—he might even be the last person to turn his contribution in—but he would do it and help in any way he could.
With him on board, I began contacting other writers. And it worked. Unfettered has twenty-two writers contributing, some of the best writers in the business. It is a large anthology and features some fantastic writing. I can’t wait for you to read it!
Here is the current Table of Contents:
- Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks (a precursor to the Word/Void trilogy)
- How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss (a Four Corners tale)
- River of Souls by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (a Wheel of Time tale)
- The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams
- Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn
- Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey (a precursor to the Kushiel series)
- Dogs by Daniel Abraham
- Mudboy by Peter V. Brett (a Demon Cycle tale)
- The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian (a Vault of Heaven tale)
- The Coach With Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore
- Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood (a Summer Dragon tale)
- Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlton
- The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne (an Iron Druid tale)
- Select Mode by Mark Lawrence (a Broken Empire tale)
- All the Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham
- Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth (a Struck epilogue tale)
- Nocturne by Robert V. S. Redick
- Unbowed by Eldon Thompson (a Legend of Asahiel tale)
- In Favour With Their Stars by Naomi Novik (a Temeraire tale)
- The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan (a Riyria Chronicles tale)
- The Duel by Lev Grossman (a Magicians tale)
- Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks (a Shannara tale)
- The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman (an Annwn Cycle tale)
In case you were wondering, Rothfuss was a man of his word. Better than that, actually. He was the first writer to submit his completed story. He surprised me. He shocked himself too, I think. In a single day’s writing session, he wrote How Old Holly Came To Be.
And I’m happy to report that Unfettered is doing its job. The generosity of the writing community and readers has made that possible and I am forever indebted. It is time to help others, to pay forward the generously shown me. I have several projects planned and the first one is happening right now. Click HERE to read how I am trying to help author Dave Farland/Wolverton, whose son Ben was hurt in a terrible accident.
In short, I am producing only 250 hardcover Advanced Reader Copies of Unfettered, the proceeds from the first 50 copies sold going to Dave and his family. They are rare, signed by Seattle contributors Terry Brooks, Peter Orullian, Todd Lockwood, and myself. And while they aren’t cheap, the proceeds are going to a great cause.
Ultimately though, this blog post is a thank you. To all of you. To those of you who have purchased my urban fantasy novel The Dark Thorn and Unfettered. Who gave what you could to help one of your own.
I will forever be indebted to you.
Shawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel featuring Richard McAllister, a homeless knight who finds himself embroiled in a long-running war between the Church and the fey Tuatha de Dannan. When Shawn isn’t writing, he maintains the websites for authors Terry Brooks, Naomi Novik, and David Anthony Durham, as well as runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press. To learn more about Unfettered, click HERE!