The bonds between a novelist and her fans can become incredibly strong over the years, even life-changing.
That may be even more notable and common in the realm of literary genres like science fiction and fantasy, where fandom has played a pivotal role in supporting authors and connecting with other fans through conventions, clubs, fanzines and blogs.
One heartening example of that forged fellowship making a big difference in someone’s life is the support that Prometheus-winning sf/fantasy author Sarah Hoyt has been receiving recently from her fans during a personal health and financial crisis.
Hoyt may be best known to LFS members for Darkship Thieves, the 2011 Prometheus winner for Best Novel, and its sequels: Darkship Renegades, a 2013 Prometheus Best Novel finalist; A Few Good Men, a 2014 Best Novel finalist; Through Fire, a 2017 Best Novel nominee; and Darkship Revenge, a 2018 Best Novel finalist.
Yet, Hoyt’s actual literary and genre range is far wider than such science fiction, set in the future in this solar system, that imagines both a functioning anarcho-capitalist society in the asteroids and a terrible authoritarian threat on Earth.
Hoyt, who moved from Portugal to the United States in the early 1980s and became an American citizen in 1988, has published more than 30 novels of science fiction, fantasy, mystery and historical fiction, from Noah’s Boy and Other Rhodes to Barbarella. She’s also contributed countless stories to many anthologies, published by Baen Books and elsewhere.
Through such prolific fiction, Hoyt has garnered quite a few fans – including but not limited to libertarian futurists.
Plus, through her freelance non-fiction essays in a variety of national magazines and her regularly published According to Hoyt blog, Hoyt has gained many more readers and fans – and many have become avid supporters and friends, after reading her very personal and honest musings about her life, family, cats, and American culture.
That may be why her initial fundraising goal of $50,000, set for her first Go Fund Me campaign, was exceeded within hours.
“Ultimately, the reason I did the GoFundMe was to be able to write,” Hoyt wrote in one of her recent blog posts.
“Because the alternative was to borrow and then sit here, with my hair falling out and without any nails, while I waited for the other house to sell.
For now? It’s surreal because for the first time ever, we have a cushion. I.e. if something goes wrong, like the other house takes three months to sell, we’re not going to be broke/homeless,” she wrote.
You can read the whole story on her blog, but basically Hoyt faced a simultaneous and interlinked health, financial and career crisis, prompted by her recent discovery that many of her debilitating illnesses and exhaustion of the past decade and more are due to where she lives: at a high altitude near Denver. The symptoms greatly impaired her ability to write and meet her many story/novel writing deadlines.
Once she and her husband discovered the cause of her health problems, from a visit to a friend at a low altitude where all of her worst symptoms disappeared, Hoyt realized that moving to a different city and home was imperative.
Unfortunately, they had to buy and move into their new home before they were able to sell their old home, sparking a cash-flow crisis that threatened their financial health and stability.
Fortunately, fans of Hoyt’s fiction and her blog have come through in a big way, astonishing Hoyt and exceeding her expectations.
“This morning, while lying in bed, I realized this entire GoFundMe experience is one of the turning points of my life,” she wrote.
“This side of the keyboard? It’s pretty lonely. I often wonder if I’m flinging out things no one cares about/reads. Like shouting into the dark, and not being sure there’s anyone there. Sometimes there’s glimmers of eyes.
So, it’s amazing to get this kind of response. It’s — life affirming.”
Hoyt confessed that she imagined that the campaign might spark contributions of $25,000 over two weeks, if she begged a lot. “And then we’d borrow the other half, pay the bill, and if the house sold quickly, we’d be okay. Mostly. I mean BTB — back to broke — but not in a hole, right?”
“And then the GoFundMe funded in… 7 hours? And is now double the amount? And I’m not keeping it up because I’m greedy, but because people keep sending me emails and pms saying “leave it up another week, so I can play.”
Her campaign is scheduled to end Nov. 16.
Here are some inspiring excerpts from some of her other recent blogs:
“People in the discord group keep saying it’s like a real life It’s A Wonderful Life. They’re not wrong.”
“Mostly — mostly? — I have this feeling that somehow everything has changed. That from now on everything will be different, because I’ll be different.
“I’m not quite sure how yet, but it feels like a good change. Like, I’ll be able to “grow into myself” and fill my own outlines. But knowing what I’m doing matters, and matters for SO MANY PEOPLE has tweaked something deep inside me. Knowing I matter, and people have been helped, and …. just having a financial cushion so I don’t need to do everything myself (uphill, both ways) will make a difference over time.
“Again, thank you. I’m confused. Fundamental parameters of my life have changed, and I’m not even sure how yet.
“And I have you to thank for it.
“And I do. More than I can tell.”
“And for right now? It’s a wonderful life,” Hoyt wrote recently.
“The lights in the great dark theater have come on. And the darkness I’ve been flinging words into is full of friendly, loving faces.
“It’s stunning. It’s almost unbelievable.
“And yes, it is wonderful.”
For more about Hoyt and the impact of her campaign, visit her According to Hoyt blog at https://accordingtohoyt.com
To see the progress of her campaign, visit her GoFundMe page.