HAZARD – On Sept. 22, 2009, Sam Neace began a journey that would end as he strolled into Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios in Chicago. It was the ultimate destination of his 500-mile walk from Hazard to the Windy City, in what he hoped would culminate in a successful handover of the finished manuscript of his novel, Bad Boy.
Producers of Oprah’s talk show declined to accept the manuscript, citing their policy of not accepting unpublished books. But Neace, a resident of the Flat Gap community of Perry County, certainly came away with a good story. This week, that story will be available in book form with the release of Go, Sam, Go, Neace’s own account of his three-week walk from Hazard to Chicago.
“The walk itself wasn’t really something I did thinking it was going to be a story or written into a book,” Neace admitted during an interview this week. But after nearly two years of encouragement from his wife, Rebekah, Neace said he began the process of putting his adventure onto paper.
“As soon as the walk ended, basically, she (Rebekah) started into me to write a book about it, and I didn’t for about two years,” Neace said. “It’s turned out to be my favorite book now that I’ve written.”
Neace began receiving other encouragement along the way, most notably from New York Times bestselling author Fern Michaels, one of several authors he contacted while organizing donations for a cancer fundraiser in Cincinnati. He finally realized that writing this book was something he needed to do.
“When you’ve got your wife and a bestselling author telling you that you need to do it, then probably you should,” Neace said.
The author of two other published books, Neace said writing Go, Sam, Go opened a door for him where his writing was concerned. His first two books were more serious in tone, but he said this new book allowed him to express the more light-hearted side of his personality.
After all, he added, the walk to Chicago actually started as a joke one evening while hosting his weekly Killer Radio show.
“Most of the stuff I’ve written in the past has been pretty serious, even though nobody considered me a serious guy,” he said. “All of that came through in Go, Sam, Go.”
A survivor of testicular cancer, Neace coupled his walk as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. His book includes the cancer diary he kept during his fight against the disease, and also a letter he wrote to Oprah but never sent, the latter being one final attempt in his quest to get Winfrey to read his work.
“By not sending the letter and just putting it in the book, if she ever reads it, then that means she would have to read the book, and I’ve finally won,” Neace joked. “I’ve finally accomplished my goal.”
Though Go, Sam, Go can already be purchased online through Amazon, it is slated for a release in print this week on Valentine’s Day. It can be purchased locally in Perry County at the book store of Hazard Community and Technical College, or at Treehouse Café & Bakery in Hazard.
Neace said this week that he was encouraged by the support he received from the local community during his walk, and believes it’s a story that will appeal to a wide range of readers.
“A lot of my thoughts are in there, a lot of the thoughts that I had while the walk was taking place,” Neace said. “There were a lot of interesting events that occurred during the walk itself, and all of that is in there.”