The Authors Guild Foundation, the charitable arm of the Authors Guild, has reached a deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to publish Fourteen Days: An Authorized Gathering, a collaborative novel edited by the acclaimed novelist Margaret Atwood, that will feature the writing of more than a dozen notable authors.
The book will be published by HMH’s Sugar23 Books imprint in spring 2022 and all proceeds will go to the Authors Guild Foundation. HMH editorial director Millicent Bennett acquired world rights to the project for the Sugar23 Books imprint, which is directed by Angela Ledgerwood. The imprint is also a division of Sugar23, an entertainment media company founded by Academy Award-winning film producer Michael Sugar. The guild was represented by Dan Conaway of Writers House, who waived his commission for the project.
“We jumped at the opportunity to be involved in such a creative endeavor,” said Sugar and Ledgerwood in a joint statement released by HMH. “Fourteen Days brings to life a community of people, quite literally, grappling with what it means to be a good neighbor under extenuating circumstances.”
The fundraising project was conceived by novelist and Authors Guild president Douglas Preston. Fourteen Days is set in New York City at the beginning of the pandemic. As the city locks down and the rich begin to leave town, a group of neighbors who aren't going anywhere gather on the roof of a Manhattan tenement building and share an ever-expanding range of intimate, surprising, horrifying, and, heartwarming stories about their community and their social connections.
Preston said he sees the book as a resource to support writers struggling financially due to the global pandemic. “The Authors Guild has poured resources, advocacy and assistance into helping writers, many of whom were already struggling financially, to get through this crazy time. We realized that we had an opportunity in these dark times to do something positive and even transformative through the creation of this unusual literary work,” Preston said.
Atwood, Preston explained, agreed to be the general editor of the book and recruited a stellar slate of authors representing a wide range of genres, ranging from literary and experimental work to mystery, thrillers, romance, children’s books, science-fiction and more. Among the many authors involved in the project are Angie Cruz, Emma Donoghue, Dave Eggers, Diana Gabaldon, Tess Gerritsen, John Grisham, Maria Hinojosa, CJ Lyons, Celeste Ng, Mary Pope Osborne, Ishmael Reed, Hampton Sides, Nafissa Thompson-Spires and Monique Truong. Each author has chosen or developed a character who lives in the building and serves as the voice for their story.
Atwood said the cast of fictional characters in the novel, “have much to say to one another about life during the pandemic and even more about life in general, sometimes getting into discussions, debates or outright quarrels—and sometimes finding resolution in unexpected moments of empathy and connection.” In the book, the character’s storytelling is recorded by the building’s super who plans to create an unauthorized text of all the stories.
Authors Guild and Authors Guild Foundation CEO Mary Rasenberger, said, “We are hugely indebted to all the writers and Dan for donating their time and resources to help make Fourteen Days a reality.”
Rasenberger said that the AG’s most recent survey showed “a staggering 71.4% of participating authors reported that their income (from any source) had declined since the Covid-19 crisis began. Respondents reported losing 49% of their regular pre-pandemic income on average. Given that challenge, it only seems fitting that a book about the Covid-19 pandemic should help benefit those hurting from its effects.”