Chances are you’ve already heard about Unfettered, the fantasy anthology that Shawn Speakman is putting together. If you haven’t, you can read more about it here. Suffice it to say that the book will include the likes of Brooks, Sanderson, Rothfuss, Carey, Williams, Salvatore, Brett... you get the point. Twenty-two writers in all. And yours truly is among them. I was honored to be invited to participate. But writing a story wasn’t enough.
Early on, Shawn asked me to do a short video announcing my story, telling a little about it, about myself, and how I came to write for the anthology. Several of the contributors, including Brandon Sanderson, have done just such a video. You can find them on YouTube if you’re interested. But when Shawn asked me to record myself talking on camera, I countered with a different idea: What if I sing?
For those of you who don’t know me, beyond writing fiction, music is my other abiding passion. I’ve had formal voice training, and also played my share of dives. All of which means that I’ve been in various bands and music groups, and toured internationally to perform one thing or another. My point is simply this: I often think in music terms. Like when I proposed to Shawn that I do something musical to accompany my story.
Actually, it was more than that. I suggested that I write a song about the book. I’d call it “Unfettered.” And to prepare to write the lyrics, I’d read all the stories in advance. Why? Because my ideas was to weave bits of the tales into those lyrics, making the song something of an homage to the book, to Shawn, and to the writers who’d contributed stories.
If you weren’t aware (and if you also didn’t hit the link above), all the authors in Unfettered donated their tales to help Shawn tackle medical bills resulting from his bout with cancer. I should also acknowledge Harriet McDougal, the late Robert Jordan’s editor and widow, who graciously allowed the inclusion of a never-before-published scene that was cut from A Memory of Light. I wanted to write a song to pay tribute to a guy who hit back hard at the big C, and offer a bit of my own thanks to the men and women who came to his aid with their fiction. And if some of my musician friends and folks who listen to my music hear the tune and decide to buy the book, then cool.
The anthology is getting close to publication. And just ahead of that, a limited edition version of the book is being released next month at Phoenix Comicon. Since PHCC begins on May 23, I’m currently targeting that date to release the song. If there’s a timing change, we’ll post an update.
I’ll have more to say when the tune’s released: about the style I’ll intentionally use; the lyric-writing process; the lyrics themselves; about my collaborator, who is the same guy with whom I’m writing the concept album to go along with my fantasy series. But for now, this’ll do.
I hope you wind up liking the song. But in many respects, that’s beside the point. Mostly, I wanted to say thank you to these writers. All of them. And to do one more small thing that might convince you to buy the book. Not only because of the great stories—and trust me, from where I sit, there are some ballot-worthy tales in this batch—but also because instead of taking a dive, Shawn fought back. When counseled to file bankruptcy, he said, “No. How about I publish a book, instead.” Unfettered is that book.
Doesn’t that just make you want to sing.