This baby is now out in all its many forms and formats. If you’ve been hibernating somewhere and don’t know what it is, it’s a collection of short stories by a bunch of great indie writers, put together by Aidan Thorn, in tribute to an inspirational lady by the name of Henrietta Furchtenicht. More from her shortly. He even let me get one in it bless his big ginger heart. All proceedings go to charity, so if it helps sweeten the deal think of it as making a donation with the bonus of a free book.
However, having read the collection, trust me when I say no such deal sweetening is needed. It’s an absolute fucking belter. I’ve read quite a few anthologies and while all have been good, they can be a little uneven. I was blown away by the consistent high level of writing. There’s no filler here. Why was I surprised? Because even with writers who I am familiar with, who’s work I’ve read and enjoyed including full novels, several times I thought, ‘This is the best thing you’ve ever done.’ Also, well done to Mark Wilson for the great cover and Craig Douglas for the technical work.
Everyone made sure they brought their A game, no doubt because of who it’s for. No-one wanted to let Henri down. Well they didn’t.
Speaking of Henri, here’s her foreword from Paladins which has a lot more power than anything I could say. X
“I have come to realize that heroes often grace our lives when we least expect them, sometimes in the form of complete strangers. The authors of the stories you are about to read are a perfect example of that. Social media has the amazing ability to bring our worlds closer, to offer us the chance to meet those people we would have otherwise never known. We share our shining moments with them along with our darkest days. Eventually the world in which we all live in seems a little less foreign and a whole lot more inviting. We find that no one is truly a stranger and that the heroes have been there all along.
A few years ago I would have never imagined myself writing these words on the night before Christmas 2015. When my oncologist first diagnosed me with Multiple Myeloma in June of 2012 he only gave me 6 months to live. I was already in the last stage of this rare form of blood cancer that attacks the plasma cells found in the bone marrow. At the time of my diagnosis I had seven broken ribs on my left side. He told me that there was no cure for my type of cancer. We could only treat it to the point of remission with high doses of chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. This is when I was first introduced to Dr. Guido Tricot, the finest oncologist that Belgium has ever produced. He has kept me alive, though at times I thought he was trying to kill me in the process.
My husband Craig and I are so fortunate to live very close to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. In the first year we easily spent more time in that place than we did at home. I underwent two stem cell transplants each consisting of 3 ½ weeks of being quarantined in a hospital unit with nothing but Craig and a puke bucket. Neither of them left my side during the entire ordeal. During the hours that I was in a self-induced trance Craig wrote to keep his sanity. By the end of the second transplant he had finished his first novel. Months later I found it hidden away in a desk drawer. After a bit of wifely persuasion he reluctantly published it.
Because of that book, through one social media site or another, we have both become friends with each of the contributors of this anthology. Fighting cancer was not how I wanted to meet any of these amazing people, but whether they knew it or not they gave me encouragement I needed from a world away. They kept me going when it would have been so much easier to just give up. I saw Ryan and Rebecca Bracha bring their beautiful daughter Delilah into the world, went to Borneo with Robert Cowan and got to wish Aidan Thorn’s father a happy birthday. Darren Sant told me what an oatcake was. I saw Matt Mattila go to California, admired Katrina Tia Davies in her wedding dress and watched Keith Nixon move his family across country. I’ve seen a little girl paint her dad’s fingernails and his son holding a “Refugees Welcome” sign in his little red boots. Each one of these writers and so many others have given me the strength and hope that the cancer has tried to take away.
I have read many of the stories written by these authors, including my husband’s. Though they are dark and gritty and downright unwholesome, I must laugh when I get over the shock of reading them. I know for a fact that each of them truly has a heart of gold. When Aidan Thorn approached us with the idea of putting a book together to help support the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, words could not begin to describe how blessed I felt. So much love for these people that I thought my heart would burst. So enjoy the book and take comfort in knowing that the proceeds will go towards finding a cure someday.
Thank you all for giving me a love for life. Much love to each of you:
Linda Angel, Bill Baber, Jason Beech, Ryan Bracha, Robert Cowan, Christopher Davis, Craig Douglas, Craig Furchtenicht, David Jaggers, Cal Marcius, Matt Mattila, Keith Nixon, Darren Sant, Gareth Spark, Aidan Thorn, Gabriel Valjan, Mark Wilson, Graham Wynd. “