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I want to live in Tonopah, Nevada's Clown Motel — the "scariest motel in America" — for a month. Then write a book about it.
I want to live in Tonopah, Nevada's Clown Motel — the "scariest motel in America" — for a month. Then write a book about it.
441 backers pledged $10,666 to help bring this project to life.

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Like anyone reading this who's heard of it, I first saw the Clown Motel on the internet, billed as the "Scariest Motel in America" because clowns are terrifying. The more I read about it, the more I was compelled to actually see it with my own two eyes. Not only was there a Clown Motel, but right next door to it was an old turn of the century cemetery. And in this same town was an abandoned silver mine. And did I mention this town is 200 miles in the middle of the desert? As a joke/dare, I proposed a road trip to the Clown Motel and a friend of mine joined in and somehow it actually happened.

In February we drove 211 miles from Las Vegas to Tonopah, Nevada and checked into the Clown Motel for a weekend. We weren't sure what we were doing or why we were doing it, but we were fully committed. Sure, we expected to be murdered in our sleep or taken to whatever sideways dimension clowns come from, but we ended up having a really great time in an interesting little town in the middle of nowhere. After a couple of nights, we went back to Vegas, I dropped my friend off and started my drive home, which was interrupted by a stay at the Clown Motel for yet another night because I lost track of time and highways. That was less fun. Kind of, I dunno, terrifying.

And now I want to go back. And I want to bring you with me.

Wait, You're Doing What?

The plan is to drive to Tonopah from Portland and check into the Clown Motel and then live there for the month of October 2015 (for extra spooookiness). I'll be working, reading, watching TV, shopping at Tonopah's one grocery store, browsing at their one bookstore, hanging out at their one coffeeshop, eating at their handful of restaurants, visiting their local attractions (The Central Nevada Museum, Historic Mining Park, The Royston Turquoise Mine) and simply living life. 

It's basically just like Henry David Thoreau's Walden, if Walden was a Clown Motel.

In the end, my goal is to write a book about it all. About Tonopah, about the Clown Motel and about my experiences living in what, for many people, would be considered a big, unequivocal "Nope."

What's the book going to be?

It'll be a memoir of my time living in Tonopah, and specifically, the Clown Motel. I'll also be spending a night at the Mizpah Hotel, just down the street, which is said to be haunted and also is super fancy. There'll likely be some talk about ghost hunting in that chapter.

Maybe it'll be the story of me losing my mind, maybe it'll be an interesting travelogue of a town too small to be remembered, much less forgotten, maybe it'll be a diagnosis of how I finally came to truly fear clowns, maybe it'll be my last will and testament.

Whatever it ends up being, it'll be a DRM-free ebook delivered straight to your inbox.

Reading is Stupid, You Can't Make Me

I'll also be documenting everything with photos of the motel, the graveyard next door and whatever else seems interesting, including other deserted or nearly deserted towns up and down the road from Tonopah (Goldfield, a supposedly haunted mining town, is just 26 miles away, the deserted ruins of former towns lay in the other direction). Photos will be in the book.

I'll also be shooting the occasional video and livestreaming and whatever occurs to me. All of which will go on the password-protected site set up for the book, which will update daily.

Why Are You Doing This?

Because everyone seems so terrified of the Clown Motel, but I'm not, even having stayed there previously. Maybe I missed something. 

Because ever since I went there, I've been thinking about Tonopah and the Clown Motel and the people who live there and I wonder what that's like. 

Because it's there? Honestly, I'm not sure. I feel like I'll figure this one out somewhere along the way.

What Makes You Think You Can Write Some Book, Tough Guy?

I'm a full-time writer. I've written journalism, non-fiction and prose in the past. Right now I write comics professionally, but I'd like to turn my abilities towards something that's not comics, that no one else is gonna even think of doing. I can totally do this. Also I've been there before, so I'm familiar with the layout of the town and the dangers (like getting on the highway after sundown).

What's All the Money Going Towards?

Here's my breakdown of costs associated with the trip:

- 30 nights at the Clown Motel.

Clown Motels need money too.

- Gas (3 fill-ups there/ back and incidental driving in and around Tonopah).

The journey is the destination! Gas is expensive!

- Tips for housekeeping daily.

I'm kind of a slob, and this will keep them from resenting me.

- 1 night's stay at the Mizpah Hotel.

Because a ghost named "The Lady in Red" allegedly lives here and because I'd like one night's break from the Clown Motel.

- Covering rent on my apartment while I'm gone.

I'll be living out of a suitcase in Nevada for very little money, I'd like to not go in debt.

- Admittance fees to Historic Mining Park/Donations to the Central Nevada Museum/Royston Turquoise Mine.

Pretty cheap for the first two, the Turquoise Mine tour costs $100 (!), but money keeps these things alive and since I'll be going to the first two a fair amount, I'd like to factor in some money for both of them. And I'm not paying $100 to go to a turquoise mine if I can help it.

- Paying myself to write/design the finished book.

I'll be spending most of my stay as well as November and December writing and assembling the finished book. I'd like to have some money to cover this working period.

- Kickstarter/Amazon fees.

They take 10%, so I've accounted for that in my breakdown.

Okay, I'm ready to give you my money, this sounds ridiculous.

It totally is, and you're a hero for joining up. Thanks.

STRETCH GOALS AND NEW REWARDS 

I never thought it would come to this, but...

UNLOCKED! STRETCH GOAL - $6000 - I buy a clown suit. I'm not obligated to wear this clown suit out of my room or while wandering through town. Listen, this is gonna be weird enough as it is. I will wear it in my room now and then. And maybe sleep in it a few times.

UNLOCKED! STRETCH GOAL - $7000 - A short comic about my stay at the clown motel. Money raised to this level will be going to pay artists, colorists and letterers. Comic will be included as a DRM-free digital comic for anyone who's already pledged at the $10 and up level.

UNLOCKED! STRETCH GOAL - $8000 - I will be joined by Terry Tyson who will conduct a seance at the Clown Motel. Terry has been doing this a long time and he "guarantees results." We will do our best to livestream it. Barring that, we'll record it and post it later for all backers.

LOCKED! STRETCH GOAL - $10,000 - I'll make a documentary about the Clown Motel and Tonopah. Maybe it'll be more like a tone poem than an actual documentary. Maybe it'll be like that movie Mr. Brainwash tried to make in EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP. I have no idea, but I have the urge and the ability to make it happen, so let's see if we can fund one.

and new, limited, rewards

$100 REWARD LEVEL - The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and SCRIPT CONSULTATION! I'll lend any and all of my writerly experience to a comic book script you've got. I can read it, give notes, make suggestions, answer whatever questions you have. This can be done via email or skype.

$40 REWARD LEVEL - The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access. You'll also receive the limited (to a set of 10) print by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

Clown Motel by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer
Clown Motel by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer

$40 REWARD LEVEL - The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access. You'll also receive the limited (to a set of 10) print by Matt Horak printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

Clown Motel by Matt Horak
Clown Motel by Matt Horak

$40 REWARD LEVEL - The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access. You'll also receive the limited (to a set of 10) print by Marissa Louise printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

Clown Motel by Marissa Louise
Clown Motel by Marissa Louise

$40 REWARD LEVEL - The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access. You'll also receive the limited (to a set of 10) print by Jason Copland, colored by Marissa Louise printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

Clown Motel by Jason Copland, Colors by Marissa Louise
Clown Motel by Jason Copland, Colors by Marissa Louise

$40 REWARD LEVEL - The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access. You'll also receive the limited (to a set of 10) print by Jordan Boyd printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

I Live in a Clown Motel by Jordan Boyd
I Live in a Clown Motel by Jordan Boyd

$40 REWARD LEVEL - The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access. You'll also receive the limited (to a set of 10) print by Natasha Alterici printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

Clown Motel by Natasha Alterici
Clown Motel by Natasha Alterici

$40 REWARD LEVEL - The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access. You'll also receive the limited (to a set of 10) print by Sean Von Gorman printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

Clown Motel by Sean Von Gorman
Clown Motel by Sean Von Gorman

$75 REWARD LEVEL - The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and artist Kelly Williams will do a 9x12 black & white with blue wash portrait of you as a grumpy clown. An example is right beneath this very sentence.

Grumpy Clown Me by Kelly Williams
Grumpy Clown Me by Kelly Williams

More prints coming. Keep checking back.

Risks and challenges

The only risks are personal. Getting there and back and not dying while I'm there due to clowns or other spooky things or going insane from living in a Clown Motel.

I write for a living, so writing the book (which I'll be doing while I'm at the Motel) won't present an issue, and thanks to ebook technology, there are no potential delays involved with print or shipping snafus.

Shipping of everything physical should happen from within Tonopah, or, at the latest, within in the first week of November once I return to Portland.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    I will whisper "Thank You [your name here]" inside my room at the Clown Motel

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    I will whisper "Thank You [your name here]" in the graveyard next to the Clown Motel.

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    All previous rewards (please pick motel room or graveyard for whispering options) and you'll be listed in the book "I Live In a Clown Motel" as a supporter.

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    All previous rewards (please pick motel room or graveyard for whispering options) and a digital download of the e-book "I Live In a Clown Motel"

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    All previous rewards (please pick motel room or graveyard for whispering options) and you'll be given access to the password protected website with daily updates.

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    All previous rewards (please pick motel room or graveyard for whispering options) and a Clown Motel postcard mailed to you from Tonopah, Nevada.

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    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and a rock from Tonopah with an enclosed note/story about where I found it.

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    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and I will skype with you from my room at the Clown Motel.

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    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and I will skype with you from the graveyard at the Clown Motel.

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    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and a Clown Motel mug, mailed to you.

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    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and you'll also receive the limited print by Sean Von Gorman printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

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    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and you'll also receive the limited print by Jordan Boyd printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

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    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and you'll also receive the limited print by Jason Copland printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

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    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and you'll also receive the limited print by Marissa Louise printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

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    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and you'll also receive the limited print by Natasha Alterici printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and you'll also receive the limited print by Matt Horak printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and you'll also receive the limited print by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and a Clown Motel t-shirt (sizes S, M or L), mailed to you.

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    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and I will skype with you from the graveyard at the Clown Motel and read you a ghost story.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and a deluxe package of the hardcover graphic novel HIGH CRIMES, which I wrote. Package comes with a pair of die-cut vinyl decal stickers and buttons (1 black on white, 1 white on black). Book will be signed by co-creator/artist Ibrahim Moustafa and myself.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and you'll also receive the limited print by Natasha Alterici printed on 100lb silk paper. I'll sign and number it.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access. I will also take a photo of one of the clowns in the Motel's collection. I'll name it and write a little story about that clown: its origins, its life, its untimely demise.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and artist Kelly Williams will do a 9x12 black & white with blue wash portrait of you as a grumpy clown.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and I will write you a short story based on some light suggestions, etc. (I get to decide if your story doesn't light my fire and make you pick something else)

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and SCRIPT CONSULTATION! I'll lend any and all of my writerly experience to a comic book script you've got. I can read it, give notes, make suggestions, answer whatever questions you have. This can be done via email or skype.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    The whispered thanks (pick motel room or graveyard), the listing in the book, the ebook, the daily updates access and you can come stay with me for a night at the Clown Motel (there's 2 beds in every room). Transportation to Tonopah not included. If I think you seem weird, I reserve the right to say no.

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Funding period

- (23 days)