The Day Author Will Wight Became My Hero

Garrett Petticrew
Aug 31, 2018 · 9 min read

Hello everyone! This weekend I am at DragonCon in Atlanta, and in the last 48 hours some amazing things have happened, so it’s time for a personal post about how awesome some people can be.

And now, a bit of context.

In late 2015 I bought a book called “The House of Blades” by an author I had never heard of named Will Wight. His reviews were fantastic, and from what I could tell, they weren’t faked.

At the time of buying that first book “House of Blades,” I thought the same thing I always think when I buy a new fantasy fiction novel.

It didn’t suck, and I became a fan. I didn’t think anything of Will Wight after that.

Fast forward to 2016, and to DragonCon.

DragonCon is like ComiCon if ComiCon had a soul. It is a convention of fans, run by the fans, for the fans of all genres from robotics, to video games, to books, and it’s been a staple in the city of Atlanta for over 30-years.

Coincidentally, it is a great place to meet and learn from my favorite authors.

I started attending DragonCon in 2015 and have been coming back every year since. Each year I typically attend the Writer’s Track to listen to and learn from fantasy fiction authors.

Unbeknownst to me, Will Wight also did the same thing.

First Encounter

What a weird world we live in.

Like I said, I often go to panels with Fantasy Fiction authors to hear their stories about getting published, the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing, etc. etc.

I was at one such panel on self-publishing and I believe Brandon Sanderson and Christopher Paolini were on the panel. Both are extremely famous authors.

At the end of each of these panels, they open up the discussion for Q&A.

Well, as random luck would have it, the guy sitting to my left stands up and asks a question about when is the right time to move from self-publishing to traditional publishing. He dropped a couple jaw-dropping sales stats, and so I looked to get a better look at this guy.

He was wearing a House of Blades t-shirt. Several things clicked in my mind at once and I blurted out, interrupting the authors’ response, “Wait, did you WRITE that book?” pointing at the shirt.

The guy, shocked at my outburst sheepishly responded with yes, to which I responded, again loudly, “I love that book! I am a huge fan.”

Then I shook his hand and shut up. I think the room chuckled at this exchange, but I was too embarrassed to notice.

The guy was none other than Will Wight. Sitting right next to me at DragonCon.

Apparently, this was uncommon for him, so we took a picture to commemorate the event.

Thus is the magic of DragonCon.

This is not the day that Will became my hero though.

Enter my fiance Megan

Until this point my (then) girlfriend Megan did not have much interest in going to this nerd convention. But, upon hearing how I had a chance encounter with an author I admired, Megan decided that skipping this nerd convention was no longer the cool thing to do, and decided to check out DragonCon in 2017.

Ultimate goal achieved!

Fast forward a year, and we are now engaged, and she proposed to me! It’s a neat story, and perhaps I will tell it here at some point in the future.

So Megan and I go to DragonCon and have a blast. I was so relieved, as I didn’t expect her to enjoy it so much, but she has the soul of a nerd, so she felt right at home and had a great time, vowing to come again every year like I do.

It’s often impossible to get a seat in the Food Court at DragonCon

DragonCon happens Labor Day weekend each year, so it is always in the first weekend in September. This timeline is important.

October 18th, 2017

On this date at about 10:50am an artery in Megan’s brain ruptured violently. She had what is called an Arteriovenous Malformation, which forms at birth, that ruptured.

This bleeding in her brain put pressure on her brain stem, rendering her unconscious and into a coma. The bleed had, at the very least caused a major brain stem stroke.

We were told a lot of things that first day at the hospital. Like she had a low chance of survival, and if she did survive there would be serious impairments. There is so much to tell, but Megan and I have decided to wait and write up a long and comprehensive story recounting the entire journey.

Here is a snapshot of where she was at 6-months after the surgery.

Those first six-months were obviously extremely difficult, and I used a variety of methods to cope while I lived in the hospitals.

The most effective method, though, was to read the Cradle series. In this series the main character is born with a severe deficit, limiting his chances of survival and erasing his chances at creating anything for himself.

He figures out a way to rise above his circumstances anyway. This was the story I needed to maintain hope.

One amazing quality of Will’s is how prolific a writer he is.

This year alone he’s published two books in the cradle series.

  • Cradle Book 4: Skysworn Release — January 17, 2018
  • Cradle Book 5: Ghostwater Release — June 1, 2018

The man kept giving me more to read at ridiculous intervals.

Megan Decides to Try Reading Again

One of the many miracles associated with Megan’s brain injury is how little it affected anything other than her ability to move her body.

Her memories were intact, her cognition was unaffected. She lost none of who she was on the inside, and the woman she was on the inside loved to read.

When I told her how the Cradle series had helped me offload some of the emotional baggage she desperately wanted to read the first book Unsouled.

So I set her up with her iPad, cranked up the font size, and worked with her to get the pages turned.

It took a while but over time her eyesight improved, and her reading endurance increased.

You have to keep in mind that for many months after Megan woke up, she didn’t have the strength or energy to even hold her head up. The fact that she pushed herself to read is a feat unto itself.

Over time she got faster and faster, eventually finishing Unsouled and moving on to Soulsmith.

At this point Megan had regained function in all of her limbs on both sides of her body, giving her a very strong long-term prognosis. We thought that maybe she’d be able to come with me to DragonCon 2018.

Fast Recovery, but Not Fast Enough for DragonCon 2018

It wasn’t meant to be.

While Megan’s recovery has been nothing short of miraculous, and miraculous many times over, 10-months was not enough time to recover. We were deluded in thinking it was a possibility, but what else could we do?

Megan is still recovering. She is in therapy six hours a day at a fantastic post-acute rehab facility in Texas.

By this time next year, I fully expect her to join me at DragonCon 2019.

Timing Is Everything

This is where this story gets really cool.

Apparently I had responded to a Facebook post Will Wight had made and that I’d been the first to comment on. I honestly don’t remember the post, but I received a facebook message from someone on Will’s team.

This was cool and really nice, but I expected a shirt or something cool.

So, some more context that is important. Megan’s therapy takes place in Dallas. My address is in Austin.

I live with Megan 24/7 and rarely go to Austin. My flights to Atlanta were booked out of Dallas.

There was no real reason for me to go to Austin at all before I flew out to DragonCon, but I remembered there were a few clothing items I wanted to bring with me, so I made the three-hour drive home.

When I was there, I randomly decided to go check the mail. Normally my roommates check the mail while I am gone, so to have this thought in the first place was weird.

So I went to check the mail. The following is the thought that went through my head when I saw a package.

“Huh, a package from Hidden Gnome Publishing. That’s Will Wight’s group. Hey, maybe it’s a shirt I can bring with me to DragonCon incase he hosts a meetup or something. Cool”

He didn’t send me a shirt.

He sent me these.

Not only did he send me these he wrote me a personalized note, showing how he took the time to see who I was a little before sending me some swag. That by itself is amazing.

He didn’t just write me a personalized note, he also signed every book! And wrote another personalized note inside Unsouled.

How cool is that? Keep in mind Will had ZERO idea about the Megan connection with his books. He just knew I was a fan and had had a rough year.

So, of course, I packed up my car and sped back to Dallas. Megan needed to see this.

And see it she did.

She was in the middle of reading Soulsmith when I showed up to surprise her.

This picture was taken two hours before my flight was to leave for Atlanta. This small act of kindness on the part of Will Wight made Megan feel 100 times better about missing DragonCon this year.

DragonCon 2018

It is now time for DragonCon 2018. I am here without my love, but she is with me in spirit.

Please Show Will Some Love Buy Supporting His Work

What’s the best way to show this badass man some love? Buy his books, of course!

Fortunately, he was my favorite author before he showed how good of a human being he is, so chances are you’ll love his work. I’ve been campaigning to get my friends to read the Cradle series for years now, so maybe this story will galvanize them to take action.

I recommend starting with the Cradle series, which are the books he sent to Megan and me.

Thank you again, Will, for being a great writer and a greater person.

You’ve earned fans for life.

Garrett Petticrew

Written by

I write for myself and everyone like me. The screw-ups tired of screwing up. Emails that help you thrive → http://bit.ly/whw-newsletter

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