The following is an interview with Brink Literacy Project CEO Dani Hedlund regarding the recent launch of the Kickstarter campaign for The Literary Tarot, a project that will see the collaboration of some of the greatest authors and cartoonists of our time. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Hedlund about the genesis behind the project, the shared creative process of working with so many talented creators (including Vita Ayala, Brian Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kieron Gillen, Mariah McCourt, Mark Millar, Tini Howard, Marjorie Liu, Spike Trotman, and Mark Waid), the amazing backer rewards available for supporters, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about Brink Literacy Project, and how would you describe the genesis of this project?
Dani Hedlund: Aw, thanks for that generous introduction!
Brink is an international literacy nonprofit, united around the belief that stories have the power to change the world. For nearly fifteen years, we’ve been helping new and diverse voices tell their stories, teaching programs in marginalized communities, and working to get people excited about literature.
The Literary Tarot is our latest, zany caper to tap into that excitement.
The premise is simple: We invited amazing writers (from Roxane Gay to Patrick Rothfuss) to share their love of a literary classic, bringing its potent themes to the forefront by pairing it with a tarot card that embodies those literary lessons.
BD: Bringing together the myriad amazing creators involved with The Literary Tarot must have been quite the undertaking! What can you tell us about the shared creative process of working with such incredible talent?
DH: It’s been an honor to work with so many of my literary heroes. These authors brought so much excitement, insight, and cleverness to this project that I doubt I’ll ever get over the sheer wonder of it.
Not only did this amazing group of celebs rock all their “adopted cards,” it was such a joy to learn what classics they really love…and why.
Look at Terry Brooks, who shares how he always identified with Peter Pan, how hard he’s worked to never grow up either. Or Talia Lavin, who paired Moby Dick with the Devil Card (because is there anyone more consumed by obsession than Ahab?), who loves that book so much she runs a podcast on the side about it! Or man, Joel Kim Booster, who paired Pride and Prejudice with the Queen of Ink. He loves Austen so much, he tattooed her on his body!
These people know these classics, they’ve agonized over them. So, when we work to unearth the most potent themes behind each text, our authors brought a brilliance to the project that still stuns me.
BD: What encouraged you to utilize crowdfunding in order to bring this project to life?
DH: You know, it never occurred to me not to Kickstarter this. For anyone out there who has run a crowdfunding campaign before, you’ll know just how hard they are. The amount of sleepless nights is pretty astronomical…
But despite all that, there’s a magic in crowdfunding you just don’t get anywhere else. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it also gives you the rare opportunity to actually engage with the people who will hopefully love what you’re making. You get to pull into your conspirator circle, listen to what they love, and share their enthusiasm.
BD: What are some of the fun backer rewards that are available to those who contribute to your campaign?
DH: Oh man! There are SO MANY FUN THINGS!
First off, let me just say how cool the deck swag is. Sure, you get a beautiful deck of 78 cards, each bringing a classic to life with gorgeous custom illustrations and some hella sparkly gold foil…but it also comes with a witty as hell guidebook, penned by that all-star celebrity team…in the voice of their chosen classic.
Wanna hear Mark Millar tell you all about how elementary (my dear Watson) the truth behind the Ace of Quills is? Margaret Atwood go all 19th-Century Jane Eyre on you? Kieron Gillen get dark and moody with some Crime and Punishment throwbacks? Carmen Maria Machado go all steamy, gay vampire on us with Carmilla’s take on the Ace of Light? Witness the internal monology of Mrs. Dallowoy mastered by Lidia Yuknavitch for the Ten of Cups?
Yeah, I thought so too.
But beyond that, all that magic fits in a fancy little book (well, a faux book, Harry Potter might hide Dobby’s sock in).
And that, my dear friends, is just the first tier.
Beyond that, we have decks that come with celebrity-soaked art and lit collections all about Arcana, stretch goals that swank the decks and books within an inch of their lives, and some very, very cool, very, very big things…that I’m not allowed to talk about yet.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
DH: We sure are!
We just put out a super amazing issue of F(r)iction that achieved a life-long professional goal of ours. For years, we’ve been fighting to create incubators that would nurture emerging comic book talent, creating a home for graphic short stories (an industry that’s dying just because it’s so damn expensive). But in our new Legacy Issue, we not only put a new, original comic in our pages, we put in TWO!
Speaking of F(r)iction, we have something really cool brewing with Kelly Sue DeConnick and #VisibleWomen. The details are all hush hush, but I can tell you the issue is called Unseen, and it’s going to pull in a lot of the big names from the Literary Tarot to do something very, very cool in the comic space!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about The Literary Tarot and Bring Literacy Project?
DH: For Literary Tarot, we are running our campaign RIGHT NOW! Jump over and look at all the pretty cards, and if you’re feeling it, snag a little magical deck of your own.
To enjoy incredible stories and art from emerging and celebrity talent alike, pick up an issue of F(r)iction. Just like the Literary Tarot, all the proceeds go to support our nonprofit mission. Who doesn’t love great stories for a good cause?
And for anyone curious about Brink, click around our website. Watch some rad testimonies from our formerly incarcerated students, ooh at the pretty art, spot that rad internship, and tell the aspiring editors/writers/publishers you know about it. We can always use some more lit geeks on our team!