"I don't want ever to be guilty of what my critics claim: doing formula without original elements." -- Piers Anthony
Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob (born August 6, 1934 in Oxford, England) is an English American writer in the science fiction and fantasy genres, publishing under the name Piers Anthony. He is most famous for his long-running novel series set in the fictional realm of Xanth.
Many of his books have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list. He has claimed that one of his greatest achievements has been to publish a book for every letter of the alphabet, from Anthonology to Zombie Lover.
"All things make sense; you just have to fathom how they make sense.""As for collaboration - I have done a lot, 26 books, and found publishers increasingly resistive to them. It's not that the books are bad; editors won't even read them.""At present I answer about 100 letters a month, and read 300 emails.""At the time I wrote Xone I had never been on the Internet.""But I don't read or listen for pleasure. I have too much else to do.""Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker series also shows the potential of lighter fantastic fiction. I read the first, and listened to a tape of a later one, and it's fun.""Have a working spouse, because you won't earn a living from writing - not at first, if ever. My wife worked for years to support us.""I did not know at first that it would be a series; I discovered after the first novel that I had more to say about it, so I did another. And another, and then the readers demanded yet more.""I do one Xanth novel a year, because at the moment that is all that publishers will accept; they don't want any other type of fiction from me, so Xanth pays my way.""I have always admired the work of Phil Farmer and was glad for the chance to work with him. Readers today may be too young to remember his classics like The Lovers.""I hope to read a Harry Potter novel soon, to see what it's all about. I admit to being annoyed that many good light fantasy writers have had trouble getting published, in England and elsewhere, when it is obvious the readers were waiting for us all along.""I maintain an ongoing survey of Internet Publishing and self publishing, so that it is now possible for any writer with a book to get it published at nominal cost or free, and to have it on sale at booksellers like Amazon.com.""I never do a full outline, and if I did, I would not feel bound to it, because the view from inside a scene can be different from the view outside it. But neither do I just start writing and see what happens; I am far more disciplined than that.""I turned my home state of Florida into the Land of Xanth.""I wish my readers took less of my time - about a third of my working time goes to them - but I love and need them all.""If every editor turns you down, maybe you should take a second look at your text, however, just in case.""In fact, I believe that we need better sex education in our own culture, here in America, so that young folk learn about things like venereal disease before they encounter it.""It would be easier to write a novel without reader input, but I feel the fiction is richer for it.""Keep writing, because not only does practice improve skill, it gives you more chances to score on the market. I did that for eight years before making my first sale.""No novel is a clone of any preceding one, though with a background cast of characters and things that has grown to thousands, there are many familiar aspects.""Normally I work out a general summary of what I mean to do, then start writing, and the details can be different from my anticipation. So there is considerable flow, but always within channels.""One reason I don't suffer Writer's Block is that I don't wait on the muse, I summon it at need.""Princess Rose should indeed be a TV movie, assuming something doesn't go wrong. I don't know how good a movie it will be, because the way movie folk think is different from the way writers think, and I distrust what isn't done my way. This is what I call a healthy paranoia.""SF is the literature of the theoretically possible, and F is the literature of the impossible.""That most dangerous of opponents: the one who took pains to comprehend the position of his adversary.""What I like least is dealing with publishers who simply don't want collaborations regardless of their merit.""When I started writing this, I found that I simply couldn't take fantasy seriously, so it became humorous, and continued from there.""When one person makes an accusation, check to be sure he himself is not the guilty one. Sometimes it is those whose case is weak who make the most clamour."
Anthony's family emigrated to the United States from Britain when he was six. He graduated from Goddard College in Vermont in 1956. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen while serving in the United States Army in 1958. After completing a two year stint in military service, he briefly taught school at Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida before becoming a fulltime writer.
Piers Anthony met his future wife, Carol Marble, while both were attending college. They were married in 1956, the same year he graduated from Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont. After a series of odd jobs Piers Anthony decided to join the U.S. Army in 1957 for a steady source of income and medical coverage for his pregnant wife. He would stay in the Army until 1959; he became a U.S. citizen during this time. While in the army, he became an editor and cartoonist for the battalion newspaper. After leaving the army, he spent a brief stint as a public school teacher before trying his hand at becoming a full-time writer.
Anthony and his wife made a deal...if he could sell a piece of writing within one year, she would continue to work to support him. But if he couldn't sell anything in that year, then he would forever give up his dream of being a writer. At the end of the year, he managed to get a short story published. He credits his wife as the person who made his writing career possible, and he advises aspiring writers that they need to have a source of income other than their writing in order to get through the early years of a writing career.
On multiple occasions Anthony has moved from one publisher to another (taking a profitable hit series with him), when he says he felt the editors were unduly tampering with his work. He has sued publishers for accounting malfeasance and won judgments in his favor. Anthony maintains an Internet Publishers Survey in the interest of helping aspiring writers. For this service, he won the 2003 "Friend of EPIC" award for service to the electronic publishing community. His website won the Special Recognition for Service to Writers award from Preditors and Editors, an author's guide to publishers and writing services.
Anthony invested as an angel investor in Xlibris at one point , and is now a co-owner along with Random House.
Many of his popular novel series have been optioned for movies. His popular series Xanth has a video game, titled "Companions of Xanth" by Legend Entertainment. It is made for PC and on CD-ROM, although it is DOS-based. There is also a board game called Xanth by Mayfair Games.
Piers Anthony's novels usually end with a chapter-long Author's Note, in which he talks about himself, his life, and his experiences as they related to the process of writing the novel. He often discusses correspondence with readers and any real-world issues that influenced the novel. His writings are most similar to novelists such as Steven Brust, Alan Dean Foster and Craig Shaw Gardner.
One important event in Anthony's early literary career was the dispute surrounding the original publication (1976) of But What of Earth?. Editor Roger Elwood commissioned the novel for his nascent science-fiction line Laser Books. As the novel opens, the governments of Earth have just developed the secret of matter transmission ("mattermission"), and the instantaneous transport of matter between points in space without limitation by the speed of light. The book follows college student Scot Krebs as he continues to live on a radically depopulated Earth. Anthony's position in the novel is that as population decreases, technology and civilization go along with it, so Scot and his companions must relearn primitive agriculture while dealing with tribes of hostile nomads.
According to Anthony, he completed But What of Earth? and Elwood accepted and purchased it. Elwood then told Anthony that he wished to make several minor changes and in order not to waste Anthony's time, he had hired copy editor (and author) Robert Coulson to retype the manuscript with the changes. Anthony described Coulson as a friend he had met through science fiction fandom, so he was happy to throw Coulson the work.
However, Elwood told Coulson something entirely different. Coulson understood himself to be a full collaborator, free to make his own significant revisions to Anthony's text, in line with suggestions made by Laser's previous line editors. In exchange, Elwood promised Coulson a 50-50 split with Anthony on all future royalties.
According to Anthony, the published novel is different in many respects from his version: most characters were imagined differently, their motivations revised and often left unclear, much of the dialogue had been reworked, and Coulson had cut many of Anthony's scenes and added several of his own invention. In Anthony's view, Coulson's efforts completely changed the tenor of the work, and not for the better.
Laser's ultimate publication of But What of Earth? listed Anthony and Coulson together as collaborators. Publication rights were reverted to Anthony under threat of legal action. Laser folded the next year, in 1977.
In 1989, Anthony (re)published his original But What of Earth? in an annotated edition through Tor Books. This edition contains an introduction and conclusion setting out the story of the novel's permutations and roughly 60 pages of notes by Anthony giving examples of changes to plot and characters, and describing some of the comments made by copy editors on his manuscript.
Anthony currently lives with his wife on a tree farm which he owns in Florida. He and his wife had two daughters, Penny and Cheryl, and have one grandchild, Logan.
On September 3, 2009, their daughter Penelope "Penny" Carolyn Jacob died from apparent respiratory paralysis following surgery for melanoma which had metastasized to her brain. She is survived by her husband and her daughter Logan.