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.
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.
Marriage and early career
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 inspired a video game, Companions of Xanth, by Legend Entertainment for DOS. The series also spawned a board game called Xanth by Mayfair Games.
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.
But What of Earth? controversy
A notable 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. 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 and was initially open to his contribution.
However, Elwood told Coulson he was to be a full collaborator, free to make revisions to Anthony's text in line with suggestions made by other copy editors. Elwood promised Coulson a 50-50 split with Anthony on all future royalties. According to Anthony, the published novel was very different from his version, with changes to characters and dialog, and with scenes added and removed. Anthony felt the changes worsened the novel.
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. 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 in the southeastern United States. 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.