About this project
The Wendigo’s Credit Card and Other Stories is the culmination of my heretofore unrelated lifelong obsessions with mythology and punchy, dryly amusing comic short stories. In elementary school - probably the third grade, or thereabouts - I became fascinated with D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, a collection of often gruesome and refreshingly bleak legends and folktales that struck me as the most hard-hitting and profoundly real thing in the student library.
A few years ago - in what would probably be the 30th grade, were I still ascending one grade per year - I became swept up in the lore and mythology of the Lake Superior region, and I found myself excited by the prospect of loosely adapting these and other legends from around the world into stories that would make readers laugh - and perhaps think. But primarily laugh.
If funded by you, The Wendigo’s Credit Card and Other Stories will combine equal proportions of folkloric archetypes, crackling wit, and zany hijinks. The resulting collection of short stories and essays will dip into the wells of mythology (Greek, Norse, Ojibwe, and more), contemporary pop and tech culture, and my own ineffable flair for zippy dialogue. It will then pour forth a rich and heady brew that will intoxicate readers with … well, you get the general gist of all that.
I’m the editor for the Heavy Table, a daily online journal of food and drink in the Upper Midwest. I’m the author of a number of books (The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin, Lake Superior Flavors, Saving General Washington) and my former gigs include Middle East editor at The Christian Science Monitor, a producer / researcher / booker for (now Senator) Al Franken, and video food reviewer for CHOW.com. I’ve been published in Minnesota Monthly, Culture Magazine, and the Washington Post. I don’t know that any of this qualifies me to write a book of mythology humor per se, but I don’t think it disqualifies me, either.
Your funding of The Wendigo’s Credit Card and Other Stories will give me the opportunity to spend some (or much) of 2014 creating something for you that is fun and beautiful and highly, highly giftable. It may kick off my professional career of writing hilarious stuff, or it may simply be a weird one-off that I’ll probably forget if someone asks me about it in 2030. Either way, I’m excited to grapple with the challenge and deliver something highly interesting, novel, and amusing.
A Sample Story From the Book
“Bring it,” you say? Oh, it already got brung. Was broughten. Brought by me. Yeah… brought. Right over here. I… brang it? That can’t possibly be right.
Table of Contents*
The Wendigo’s Credit Card
Zeus Tries to Summon the Furies But Accidentally Summons the Furries Instead
How Naniboujou Outran His Student Loans
The Laundry Day of Cthulhu
The Contemporary Scandinavian Folklore of Minnesota
Spikes on the Water Barrels
Leda and the Swan and “Swans Stopping Rape”
How Skade the Ski Goddess Got Her Rental Deposit Back
Death With Wings
How the Wendigo Got Caught in the Dehumidifier
The Twelve Much Easier Labors of Hercules
Lesser-Known Beasts Slain By Thor, and Their Curricula Vitae
### BONUS STRETCH GOAL STORIES
Kvasir, the God of Knowledge, and Other Gods Who Were Created by Spitting On Things
Hey Animal: Why Are You Carrying That Heavy Item?
Sisiphus’s Day Off
### SECOND LOT OF BONUS STRETCH GOAL STORIES
Zeus, Greatest God of the Greek Pantheon, and the Difference Between Twitter and Texting
An Interview with Legion, Befouler of Pyres
The Doughnuts of the Spirit Realm Aren’t Better, But They’re Different, and They’re Still Pretty Good
*These titles may change, although the number of stories will stay constant.
Here are some stretch goals for you to ponder. If you’re funding this project, please tell friends, family members, and anyone reachable by electronic or other means about it - YOU REAP THE REWARDS. I mean, I reap the rewards most centrally, but YOU REAP THE OVERFLOW, AS MUCH AS IT CAN BE MANAGED.
Stretch Goal #1: $3,000
Commission a series of black and white illustrations to accompany the book’s text. I know a bunch of great illustrators (see: The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food), so the main challenge with this will be trying to narrow it down to one amazing artist. It’s a challenge I’d love to face.
Stretch Goal #2: $5,000
Add three more stories, for a total of 15. I’ve even written the titles for you, so that they may entice, excite, and motivate you to greater giving and talking about the project. If you’re independently wealthy, please don’t be shy about kicking in a few extra thousand to get us to the goal.
Stretch Goal #3: $7,500
Add another three stories, for a total of 18. Holy buckets! This would be amazing!
Stretch Goal #4: $12,000
Some or all illustrations printed in color. Printing illustrations in color is a massive expensive pain in the butt, so I’d sort of rather not hit this goal, but if we hit it, the book will in fact look a lot cooler, so I guess I have to say: bring it on.
Stretch Goal #5: $15,000
Commission an art print to be given to everyone who pledges $16 or more. We’re talking awesome frameable letterpress print by the illustrator of the book. Hang it! Gift it! Get me to sign it and sell it for BIG BUCKS on eBay after I’m dead, presuming my career has come to anything by that point!
How will the money from this campaign be spent, if the goal is met?
The majority of the money raised will go to having the book printed, designed, and shipped; if we hit some of the stretch goals, printing costs will also go up as we add illustrations or even color illustrations. I’ll need to commission a designer and cover illustrator no matter what, so a good chunk of the cash will go there.
You’re a professional food writer, can you prove that you’re funny?
I can prove that I am funny to some people, but as you surely know, there are always some who are unreachable, e.g. the entire audience of Two and a Half Men.
You can read one of my humorous essays published on McSweeney’s for a taste of my style; I also had an ongoing comic food review series on YouTube that reached more than 15,000 subscribers at its peak. And this April 1 “interview” with Prince about the contents of his fridge went viral and still sparks up every now and again, confusing thousands of people.
Can you guarantee that we'll have our books in hand by Christmas/Hanukkah 2014?
Last year, I headed the Heavy Table’s Secret Atlas of North Coast Food campaign. We promised that we’d get a book with 30+ writers and illustrators into our backers’ hands by the holidays, and we did it. I feel confident that this book - with one writer and zero-to-one illustrators - will be even more likely to arrive on time.
Does this Kickstarter campaign mean that there won’t be another Heavy Table book or maybe another Secret Atlas specifically?
Not at all. It’s highly likely that we’ll do another Heavy Table book (possibly an Atlas sequel) for the holidays of 2015.
How much will this book sell for in stores?
Risks and challenges
Both are extremely minimal. I’m working with a printer that I’m comfortable with, and I’m an experienced professional writer who will be personally accountable to you for creating a high quality and on-time book. The main risk is that the book will turn out to be too awesome, and you will injure yourself while laughing and/or thinking about its contents, and I’ll be exposed to some kind of legal liability. But, seriously, that’s more my problem than yours.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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