I may live in Maine now, but I got my start in the writing world out in Utah, and I still have many friends in the writing community out there. Robison Wells, the brother of a good author friend of mine, is an excellent author in his own right. He wrote the fantastic Variant series, and I highly recommend them. But more than that, he suffers from crippling OCD. Not the OCD you hear people offhandedly dismiss (“I’m so OCD about my bathroom.”) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is much different than someone just liking things to be a certain way. In Rob’s case, he feels compelled to be constantly working. If he’s not working, he has to fight the urge to punch himself in the face. (Rob has written very openly on the topic. I encourage you to read it or another piece he wrote here. His brother Dan also recently wrote on the subject.)
Read those essays, and then ask yourself what it would be like to suffer from that. This isn’t something people make up. It’s not an excuse they come up with to get out of something. Mental illness is real, and the struggles people have with it are all too serious.
To make matters worse, the consequences of this illness for Rob have been severe, not just from a social standpoint, but from a financial one: he’s lost his job, and the medical bills have added up to a pile of debt he just can’t get out from underneath.
But that’s where that writing community I mentioned has stepped in. Brandon Sanderson suggested a bunch of them and like-minded authors get together and contribute to an anthology. He would pay all publishing costs for that anthology, and they could use it as a fundraiser to help Rob out. A veritable slew of authors signed up to contribute. (If I’d have known, I would have happily sent something in too.) The theme for the anthology was basically “deleted scenes and altered versions of some of your favorite authors’ books.” Stuff you wouldn’t see elsewhere, along with each author discussing their experiences with mental illness. Here’s a rundown of the authors and the pieces:
Ally Condie, the foreword
Dan Wells, the introduction
Annette Lyon, An unpublished chapter from her retelling of the Finnish fairy tale, THE KALEVALA
Aprilynne Pike, TBA
Brandon Mull, Deleted scenes from BEYONDERS 2
Brandon Sanderson, five completely rewritten chapters from THE WAY OF KINGS, where Kaladin makes the opposite choice of what he makes in the published novel
Bree Despain, an alternate ending to THE LOST SAINT, and an alternate beginning to THE SHADOW PRINCE
Brodi Ashton, the first chapter from her YA novel about an unwilling alien fighter who has to rescue the boy she loves
Claudia Gray, a deleted scene from A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU
Dan Wells, the original John Cleaver free-write that inspired I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
Erin Bowman, a deleted scene from TAKEN
Howard Tayler, a creative non-fiction story about life with mental illness
J Scott Savage, three original chapters that led to writing FARWORLD
Jennifer Moore, a deleted scene from BECOMING LADY LOCKWOOD
Jessica Day George, a deleted scene from PRINCESS OF GLASS, where the main character plays poker with a witch
Josi Kilpack, the original opening scene to TRES LECHES CUPCAKE
Kiersten White, an original short story, set in a dystopian, sci-fi world
Larry Correia, a deleted fight scene from SWORDS OF EXODUS
Lauren Oliver, two deleted scenes from PANDEMONIUM, plus a hilarious scene about the plotting process
Luisa Perkins, a short story, “Seeing Red”–a modern-day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.
Mary Robinette Kowal, deleted scene from VALOUR AND VANITY (the scene was cut because readers thought the scene was trying to depict depression)
Nancy Allen, bonus scene from BEAUTY AND THE CLOCKWORK BEAST
Robison Wells, an epilogue to FEEDBACK and the VARIANT duology
Sandra Tayler, a creative non-fiction piece called “Married To Depression”
Sara Zarr, a story featuring characters from one of Sara’s previously published novels
Sarah Eden, “Farewells” for LONGING FOR HOPE and HOPE SPRINGS
Seanan McGuire, The original opening for DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON
Shannon Hale, ”Ravenous,” a previously unpublished scifi short story
SJ Kincaid, the original first chapter of VORTEX, before it was entirely rewritten
It’s quite the list. They’ve had it up on Indiegogo for a few days, and they’re over a quarter of the way to their goal. All money raised will go to help Rob. Any money that’s over their goal will go to help other authors with similar problems.
How can you help? Well, besides buying the book, you can spread the word. They’ve set the goal at the amount Rob actually needs, and it’s an ambitious goal. So if you can, do what you can. It’s certainly a worthy cause.