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Determined to help after the Sandy Hook shootings, four kids set out on a journey that reshapes their views of America and its people.
Determined to help after the Sandy Hook shootings, four kids set out on a journey that reshapes their views of America and its people.
32 backers pledged $4,155 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Runaway Empire: A Novella from Andrew Yorke project video thumbnail
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Hey, everyone! My name is Andrew Yorke, and I am a writer and a filmmaker, and cofounder of a startup called Xteamartists. Over the last several years, I have maintained a desire to combine my work with an effort great or small to help people and give back. I started the website Donation: Japan in 2011, which gave people easy access to news reports and donation opportunities to help the thousands who suffered as a result of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

To this end, I have never been afraid of tackling sensitive or controversial subjects in my work. With Runaway Empire, I wanted to create a story that directs people to a more optimistic—and realistic—view of our troubled world and what the future could really hold. It became a more personal story than I honestly anticipated, but I think this has only made it that much more personal for the reader. It is something that I am very proud of, and I would like to be able to distribute it to as many people as possible. Plus, if you get to the end of this proposal, you will see a couple of free gifts, as a way of thanking you just for reading.

Why Am I Writing This?

In 2011, I was optioned by Xteamartists to write a number of scripts of varying length. One of the shorter ones I penned late in the summer was a story we knew we could not produce. I was asked to try instead presenting it in literary form. It was a hit, and in writing it I realized I could continue telling stories in that medium. By late 2011, I had begun work on my first novel, a thriller entitled The Rabbit. It’s a fictitious story of survival set against the backdrop of a school shooting. Rather than focus on cheap thrills and shocks exploiting the sensitive nature of such an event, I took a character-driven approach to try and provide a better understanding of the psychology and the humanity on all sides of this sort of madness.

I worked on the first draft throughout 2012, and I watched as the world around me broke down in an eerie way. The shooting at Aurora, Colorado, occurred that summer. By October, I had finished the draft and began working with my editor. On December 14, 2012, with the story still fresh in my mind, I was shocked and appalled at the events in Newtown, Connecticut. What was worse was the amount of people taking advantage of the situation for nothing more than headlines and ratings. There was something in me that snapped, and I wanted to find a way to offer more than exploitation. So that evening, I put aside my work on The Rabbit to begin this novella. Every day, including holidays and birthdays, I worked nonstop on the story. I looked through films I viewed as a child, countless music albums, artwork, international figures both good and bad. I talked with people I knew and people I met on the streets at random, all in an attempt to create a story that is engaging, inspiring, and universal—but with a special appeal to those of us living in the United States. Many of my notes and research ended up going on a wall in my workspace, which turned into a kind of mural.

The mural, my buddy Holley, and myself.
The mural, my buddy Holley, and myself.
A collection of images I found while doing research and writing. These were some of the images included in the mural.
A collection of images I found while doing research and writing. These were some of the images included in the mural.

I also decided that a net portion of the proceeds from the book would go to Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization campaigning for gun safety that has taken the tragedy and leveraged it to help make a difference.

I had no idea how people would react to this story, and I honestly was not concerned. I knew in my gut that what I was doing was the right thing. I felt that I was giving back to a world which has given me all that I know today. For me, that’s not about being an artist, it’s about being human.

What is Runaway Empire About?

On the day of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the media described the tragedy with a “gossipial” madness that left Arthur, a jaded college graduate, incensed. He felt compelled to act. When a serendipitous e-mail introduces Arthur to a committed band of young, flawed heroes, they set out together, determined to help the Newtown community. Though their adventure takes an unexpected turn when a high-speed chase leads them into the countryside, their journey takes them deep inside their hearts and souls. And it transforms two strangers into passionate but conflicted lovers. When life finally returns to normal, all four have changed as they realize that to be an American, indeed to be human, means rising to the occasion in any way we can.

A little more about myself

I am twenty-eight years old. During the past five years, in addition to the writing I began in 2011, I have worked on an experimental motion picture called Videotape. The movie, like The Rabbit, deals more directly with some of the darker themes addressed in Runaway Empire. While working on this novella, Videotape was submitted to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

I also have two published short stories currently available as e-books: Sharon Tate and Waiting for Love at Airports. The first is an intimate illustration of the life of the late actress most remember as the iconic victim of Charles Manson’s murders in 1969. I worked closely with her sister Debra to create a unique insight into Sharon’s life, which focuses on the beauty and the introspective moments—and not merely on her horrific end. The second story is a fun and quasi-philosophical look at romance in early adulthood. Writing Waiting for Love at Airports, though drawn from many personal experiences, was not nearly as intense as writing Sharon Tate (which, admittedly, haunted me a bit after completion).

Like Runaway Empire and The Rabbit, the movie and my short stories were encouraged and financed by Xteamartists, an organization I cofounded with my colleague and close friend Kevin Michael. Over the years, our organization has encouraged not only my work and his, but the endeavors of other talented young artists. By supporting this venture, you will give us the opportunity to deliver the biggest impact we have been able to give our audiences and our artists to date.

Why Do I Need Your Help?

To this point, a lot has been done on almost no funding at all. The manuscript is complete, and a website is currently being developed for launch ahead of publication. T-shirts have been designed, cover art has been created for the book, and a few independent critics have been sent advance copies of the manuscript. So what is left to do?

Here is a list of the things that your donations will make possible:

  • filing for the copyright
  • releasing the story in print
  • cost of letters, packages, and so forth to deliver materials
  • marketing on Goodreads, Facebook, and other social networking platforms
  • online book tour
  • finishing the book trailer and the website
  • basic production costs for t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other merch

What are the rewards?

Because it’s still financially difficult for so many these days, I have tried to come up with as many rewards as possible so that you really get your money’s worth. You’ll see them listed on the side, but some of the rewards include:

  • Free, digitally autographed, advance copies of the e-book
  • Free t-shirts or coffee mugs
  • Free physical copies of the book, with a personal message and an autograph
  • Free copies of my other e-books, Sharon Tate and Waiting for Love at Airports

Notice there are a lot of free things. I want to help you guys help me in order to not only reach the bare minimum I am asking, but to raise even more than that. The more money we raise, the bigger splash we can make together.

A list of thanks

I would like to give a shout-out to the following people and organizations for their help, encouragement and sheer existence (in no particular order): Sandy Hook Promise, Carl Antonowicz, Francisco Moreno, Andy Quin, De Wolfe Music, my family, who have been me through thick and thin to provide unconditional love and support of my endeavors, Livi Yiu, Jesse Hausler, Caroline Martell, James Eastman, Dan Setterberg, Mariana Krueger, David Nethery, Diane Downey, Norma Lundquist, and my canine BFF Holley.

Two free gifts for you right now

Concerning the small surprise: as a reader, I’ve always been interested in knowing what authors listen to, especially as they work. Music is a part of the experience for me as a reader, because it adds another layer of depth to both the story and the writing process of the author.

As a result, I have compiled a rather long list of music new and old that I’ve been listening to as Runaway Empire edges closer to completion. You can check it out on Spotify and 8tracks. I’ve spent probably far too much time putting the songs together into what resembles a good order, but hey—there’s some good music in there! Have fun.

The second surprise is a collection of excerpts from the novella for your viewing. I wouldn’t expect you to donate to this cause without at least taking a look at the story itself. Just click here to view it!

Last thoughts

Someone once told me that in order to be a great person, you must understand that no one is better or worse than you. It’s a philosophy which I have sworn by since I was a little boy, and it is the fuel that propelled this project from day one. With your help, I will be able to deliver this uplifting story, one that so many of us need, to your hands and many others’. From there, we can all grow together in this confusing, colliding Runaway Empire.

Risks and challenges

The obstacles facing us are few but significant. The biggest is the matter of publishing in print. I have looked at a number of publishing houses which could give us what we need, but this will be my first time working with one. There could be a few unseen complications that arise. Additionally, I will be choosing a publishing house that creates books which don’t look cheap. I would never want a cheap-looking book, so I would never expect you to settle for the same.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    THANK YOU BUNDLE: You will get backer-only updates, including behind-the-scenes photos and log entries from me. You will also be able to download the book for free in both PDF and e-book formats (compatible with Kindle, Nook, Apple devices, and other e-readers).

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    DIGITAL BUNDLE: Backer-only updates, along with a Kickstarter-exclusive digitally autographed copy of ‘Runaway Empire’ before it’s released, available both in PDF and e-book formats.

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    PAPERBACK BUNDLE: One Kickstarter-exclusive signed copy of the paperback, a digitally-autographed, advance copy of the e-book, and behind-the-scenes photos and log entries. Free domestic shipping.

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    PATRON BUNDLE: One signed copy of the paperback, a digitally-autographed, advance copy of the e-book, and a free copy of my other e-books, ‘Sharon Tate’ and ‘Waiting for Love at Airports’. It’s an e-book bundle put together for Kickstarter backers only (available in both PDF and e-book formats). Free domestic shipping.

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    DELUXE PATRON BUNDLE: One signed copy of the paperback, a digitally-autographed, advance copy of the e-book, the Kickstarter-exclusive collection of my two other e-books, and a free t-shirt or coffee mug thanking you for your support (specify your choice when you select the reward). Free domestic shipping.

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    PLATINUM BUNDLE: One signed paperback copy of the book, one digitally-autographed, advance copy of the e-book, the special bundle of ‘Sharon Tate’ and ‘Waiting for Love at Airports’, a t-shirt or coffee mug, plus a personalized video message from me to you as a token of gratitude. Specify your choice of merch when you select the reward. Free domestic shipping.

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    ALL-OR-NOTHING BUNDLE: You’ll get everything in the $100 reward, plus something really neat: you will receive a downloadable booklet of my notes. This includes sketches, plot and character outlines, and other miscellaneous treats. And you get both a t-shirt and a coffee mug. Free domestic shipping.

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Funding period

- (26 days)