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Out in the Cold is a non-fiction book about the unique world of surfing in Alaska, the Last Frontier.

I’m Kris Farmen, a novelist, historian, and freelance journalist based in Alaska.  I’m also an avid surfer—yes, there are surfers here—and I intend to spend the summer of 2013 on an extended surfing trip across Alaska’s coastline, exploring the places, people, and ecosystems that make surfing on the Last Frontier such a unique experience.  The result will be a book of creative nonfiction called Out in the Cold

Surf magazines periodically run the odd story about surfing in Alaska, but these pieces focus either on the experiences of globe-trotting professional surfers backed by the big dollars of international surf-wear brands, or the wide-eyed travel observations of an elite corps of surf journalists for whom a surf safari to Alaska is an exotic once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Nobody writes about the local crews, the resident Alaskans who are driven to surf here, and more importantly, why we’re driven to surf in such a cold, difficult place.  So far, we’ve been just the local color added to the slick magazine story.  I aim to correct that.

I’ll be travelling to different surfing locales around the state, most prominently Kodiak, Yakutat, and Sitka, as well as other more remote breaks, some of which have never been surfed before.  I will be camping and surfing in each place, and seeking out local surfers for interviews regarding their take on surfing, why they feel compelled to surf in Alaska’s frigid water, and to collect oral histories of surfing in Alaska.  The end result of all this will be the book Out in the Cold.  I will begin drafting the manuscript in the winter of 2013, with an eye on publication in late 2014 or early 2015. 

A round-trip ferry ticket for me and my truck (which is needed to transport my boards, wetsuit, wall tent and camping gear) to Kodiak costs nearly $500.  A similar passage to Yakutat costs closer to $800.  Airplane charters to remote breaks can run up to $1000 or more.  Then there’s food, fuel, and of course, surf wax.  It might also be nice to rent an occasional cabin or hotel room along the way so I can dry out, take a hot shower, and check my email.  This all adds up quicker than you might think.

To my knowledge I am the only surf writer based in Alaska, which gives me a unique window into the local surfing scene.  Out in the Cold will be the first book written about surfing in Alaska.  Part travelogue, part surf memoir, and part journalistic investigation, it will offer a unique view into the world of those of us who choose to pursue the surfing lifestyle at the extreme edge of the world.  With your help, I can make this dream a reality.  Thanks very much for your time.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

I already have a publisher lined up, so the single biggest challenge to this project is funding. Alaska is a very expensive place to travel, particularly when you’re talking about the kind of remote wilderness areas where I’m headed. Even getting to on-the-map places like Kodiak, Yakutat, and Sitka costs an arm and a leg.

Riskwise, there are any number of possibilities. This is, after all, bush Alaska. There are plenty of hungry bears on Alaska’s gulf coast, to say nothing of the usual ocean hazards of sharks and territorial sea lions. In most of the places this journey will take me, there’s no hospital to rush to if I get hurt, nor any lifeguard to call if I’m swept out to sea. But I’m a well-seasoned surfer, born and raised in Alaska, and have lived most of my life in such places. I know how to take care of myself in wilderness situations.


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    If you throw $20 into the project fund, you will receive a free downloadable e-book version of Out in the Cold, at the time of public release, in the format of your choosing, plus your name in the electronic version of the acknowledgements.

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    For $50, you’ll receive a free paperback copy of Out in the Cold, at the time of public release, signed by me, plus your name in the paper version of the acknowledgments.

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    At the $100 level, your contribution will get you a free hardcover copy of Out in the Cold, at the time public release, signed by me, with your name in the paper version of the acknowledgements.

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    A $200 contribution will get you the signed hard-cover copy of Out in the Cold (with your name in the acknowledgements) at the time of public release, plus an exclusive bonus chapbook with additional text not to be found in the book. Essentially, this will be an additional chapter that will only be available to you and the others who contribute at and above this level. It will be entertaining, germane, and awesome!

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    Contributors at the $500 level will receive the signed hardcover copy of Out in the Cold at the time of public release, their name in the acknowledgements, the bonus chapbook, AND a limited edition poster of the front cover image (whatever image is chosen for the final version of the cover) of approximately 12 x 18 inches in size. In addition, I will sign the poster, with a personalized message to you.

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    If you feel moved to contribute to Out in the Cold at the $1000 level, you will receive the whole shebang: One free e-book copy of the finished book in the format of your choosing, plus one free paperback copy and one free hardback copy, at the time of public release, both signed by me, as well as the bonus chapbook and the cover poster in a larger size of 16 x 24, signed and personalized.

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    Those who contribute to the project at the $2000 level will receive something extremely special: I will dedicate Out in the Cold to you. This is limited to two names, because, obviously, it is something coming truly from the heart and not to be given out willy-nilly. Some might say that book dedications should not be for sale, but I don’t see this as a mere transaction. I’ve been trying for years to get this project off the ground, and if you contribute funding at this level, you’ll be doing far more to make it actually happen than anyone else ever has. Believe me, I will be genuinely thankful for that. Thankful enough to dedicate the book to you with all my heart and soul. And of course, you’ll get the e-book, paperback, and hardback copies of the book (signed, etc.) at the time of public release, the bonus chapbook, and the large-size poster.

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    Here’s the big guns. If you’re willing to fund the entire project ($10,000), I’ll give you one of my surfboards, shipped to your nearest freight depot, anywhere in the world (I’ll negotiate this directly with you). The board of which I speak is not some dog that’s been collecting dust in the rafters of my cabin; it’s one of the favorite sticks in my quiver, and will be accompanying me on my travels. It’s a standard fiberglass board, 7’2” with a quad fin profile and plenty of rocker. Actually, it’s the board I’m scraping in the video—check it out again for another look. It’s a great board, pure and simple, but it is only a surfboard, and I’ll happily trade it for the opportunity to make this dream a reality. NOTE: Because this board will be travelling across Alaska with me prior to delivery, it will be shipped “as is” at journey’s end. This includes any dings, cracks, waterlogging, pressure dents, or other damage incurred on the way. If I break the board, or it gets chewed to pieces by a curious bear*, that’s the condition you’re going to get it in. This isn’t about paying ten grand for a surfboard, it’s about receiving a little piece of surfing history and contributing to a great story that will hopefully be in print for years to come. That being said, I’m pretty anal retentive when it comes to caring for my surfboards, so chances are you’re going to get a perfectly functional craft, plus of course the e-book, the signed paperback and hardback copies of the book (with acknowledgements), the bonus chapbook and the large-size poster. Limit of 1. *Bear tooth marks are not guaranteed.

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