The Literary Tarot: Being Foolish Together

So here’s the thing, I got a little rambly while writing this post. Even for me.

The crux of the issue, is that I was invited to help design a tarot card for the Literary Tarot project that’s running right now.

Not only that, but I got to do the Fool, which is a particularly meaningful card to me. Even better, I got to pair the fool with Don Quixote, a *character* that is very close to my heart.

(Click to Embiggen.)

Did I mention that the kickstarter is raising money for a charity? Which is absolutely my jam. Except when it’s a charity that’s focused on improving global literacy, which is *double* my jam.

And if that weren’t enough, the person who is running the charity (and the kickstarter) has agreed to add a tier so that people can back at that level and support both Brink (their charity) and Worldbuilders (my charity).

Here’s the catch: as I type this, there’s only about 36 hours left in the kickstarter.

That’s why the new tier is named “Foolish Together” because doing something like this at the last minute at the end of a successful kickstarter is pure madness. (Right now they’ve got almost 10,000 backers, and are poised to tear past 700,000 dollars.)

That’s why I’m doing this little summary here, so if you’re interested, you can just hop over there go over there and take a quick look. Even if you’re not interested in backing it, you should really go look at the art and the different authors invovled. It’s really cool.

But if you want the whole story, maunder and all, here it is….

*     *     *

For years now, a big part of my job is saying no to cool new projects.

And believe it or not, I’ve gotten pretty good at it. It might not seem like it to the casual observer, or to any observer at all, really. The problem with non-action, of course, is that it is non-visible. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to write a blog or tweet,  “I said no to being in a writer’s room!” Or “I passed on the opportunity to be a keynote speaker today!”

But the truth is, I nope out of the vast majority of things I’m invited to do. Maybe, like… 97% of them.

Sometimes it’s easy. But some of the missed opportunities I still think about years later. I’ve passed up several chances to do narrative design for video games. And twice I’ve said no actually holding the reins and helping assemble and lead teams for parts of video game design: once for Worldbuilding, once for narrative. Those really stung to walk away from.

I’ve given a regretful no to writing an opinion piece for the New York Times, to being involved in writer’s rooms for *very* cool properties, and writing stories comic book characters that I’ve loved since I was a kid…

And those are just the ones that spring to mind. Not to mention the hundreds of conventions, dozens of licensing deals, and many anthology invitations I’ve politely declined.

Almost all of these things I would have loved to do to some degree, but I know I need to focus more. Working on too many projects at once is foolish…

But several weeks ago, some friends introduced me to Dani Hedlund, who was putting together a Literary Tarot Deck for a charity fundraiser. Authors were pairing up cards with literary characters. A bunch of authors. Cool authors.

These are just the ones that were announced TODAY. Seriously.

And yes, that’s Steven Fry.

Anyway, I got the invite. It sounded fun and easy, and I like charity, and I’ve been dabbling with Tarot for about 30 years now. Plus, just picking a card and pairing it with a literary figure should probably take what? Ten minutes? Fifteen?

Fast forward two weeks to where I’m on a call with the CEO of the other charity doing art direction, talking about Sancho Panza, and excitedly bubbling over about the fact that what’s on his head is not, in fact, a helmet. It’s a shaving basin.

Also, there might have been singing.

Then this:

Fast forward another two weeks, where I’m talking with Dani again, asking if there’s anything I or Worldbuilders can do to help.

She mentions what I already know, that the biggest challenge is always getting the word out.

I tell her what *she* already knows, that my charity is currently doing its own fundraiser right now. Worse yet, both our fundraisers end almost exactly at the same time. We both know it would be deeply foolish for me to change directions and to promote hers at the same time.

I mention that if Brink and Worldbuilders could somehow work together in some way, we could hit it from that angle. Use the Worldbuilders mailing list. Do a livestream. Pitch it as a superhero team-up. But we both know that it would be deeply foolish for her to make a sudden addition or change to what is already a *super* successful project right at the end.

Fast forward to this:

Yup. She added an entire new tier to her kickstarter out of the goodness of her heart. Just so our charities could work together. It’s got a special postcard based off the card that we designed together that’s full of delightful little flourishes like this:

And I took a chunck of time on Sunday and we had an *amazingly* fun talk about Tarot cards, books we love, the madness of running a charity. I explain why I picked Don Quixote, and we talk about the art direction we did. It’s honestly one of my favorite streams I’ve done in ages.

Also, I was in fine form. I’m not saying I was so witty at one point that I made Dani snort. But I’m not *not* saying that either.

You should check out the video just for the joy of getting to meet Dani, honestly. She’s charming AF. Straight-up one of the most delightful people I’ve ever met. (And I’m saying this as a person who once hugged Felicia Day and Neil Gaiman on the same day.)

So… yeah. You’ve got about 36 hours to jump on that kickstarter if you’re interested.

Here’s the link.

You know what to do.


This entry was posted in Arts and Crafts, calling on the legions, cool news, cool things, geeking out, hubris, Me Interviewing Other Folks, meeting famous people, My Iconoclastic Tendencies. By Pat19 Responses


  1. Posted June 29, 2021 at 1:14 AM | Permalink

    Hey Pat, thanks for sharing.

    Hope you’re doing okay.

  2. jeste
    Posted June 29, 2021 at 2:20 AM | Permalink

    Gotta say, I very much enjoy the practicality of the shaving bowl hat juxtapose the reckless leaping-off-the-cliff-straight-into-the-windmill. This Quixote knows what to do. After all, the whimsical, uncharted journey that windmill is going to send him on is so much more worth the life lived fastidiously…if indeed throwing caution to the wind launches unpredictable, fruitful results (instead of grounding him on tarmac; single lane with dead-end). That’s the Fool! Ever searching for that particular flavour of fruit, the illusive wild strawberry!

  3. domdib
    Posted June 29, 2021 at 7:10 AM | Permalink

    Pledged – foolishly, of course!

    • Posted June 29, 2021 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

      The best sort of kickstarter pledge.

      I think Don Quixote should be the patron saint of Kickstarter, honestly.

      • Posted July 12, 2021 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

        The Double-Edged Sword of Empathy hmm..😶

  4. TimWarp
    Posted June 29, 2021 at 7:13 AM | Permalink

    I lept on this as soon as Worldbuilders sent out their email blast. Can’t wait!

  5. Aaron
    Posted June 29, 2021 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat…

    I don’t know if this has been noticed, but on the “Foolish Together Tier” graphic under “fast forward to this”, “tier” is misspelled “teir”.

    I figured if you hadn’t noticed it you’d probably appreciate someone pointing it out. I just wish I didn’t have to be that guy.

    This whole project is amazing though regardless.

  6. Justin
    Posted July 4, 2021 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    Darn, I only just now saw this as I get your updates through goodreads…

    A) Is there any way to pledge for a literary tarot deck now, after the kickstarter closed? Through backerkit? Dark Rituals?

    2) How do I sign up for the WorldBuilder’s email list? The newsletter signup page doesn’t appear to have any option (

  7. Brit
    Posted July 4, 2021 at 2:12 PM | Permalink

    Pat! I just saw this and am heartbroken! I would love to pledge, is it still possible? With love from Austin, TX

    • abigail
      Posted July 9, 2021 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

      don’t cry, there’s one coming by the end of the year as usual

  8. Eager
    Posted July 23, 2021 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    Any word on when you will be traveling for meet and greets again?
    So many people would be interested
    Sometime Soon?
    How about a trip to Florida?
    One time I would love to get some books signed in person
    Last year has been crazy but even with things surging again things are looking better
    Everyone is looking forward to new beginnings!

  9. Fan
    Posted July 29, 2021 at 9:17 AM | Permalink

    Finished your books the other day
    Really enjoyed the story arc in the second book
    All the suspense just left me wanting more!
    Unreal the amount of pure genius in the writing. Just sublime
    Do you all agree?

    • ian
      Posted August 11, 2021 at 9:37 AM | Permalink

      No you’re alone lol

  10. Nick Boulton
    Posted August 18, 2021 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

    A cool copper Damascus blade you might appreciate to deal with any pesky namers

    • Patrick Gordon
      Posted September 5, 2021 at 12:26 AM | Permalink

      That’s awesome Nick, those darn namers don’t stand a chance.

  11. Patrick Gordon
    Posted September 5, 2021 at 12:24 AM | Permalink

    If there is ever a Tv/Movie and you need someone to be Kvothe’s singing voice. If a fan’s vote means anything Marty Ray is my pick.

  12. Curious
    Posted September 9, 2021 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

    Respectfully curious about the huge time lapses in between posts here. Any insight?

  13. Thomas
    Posted September 10, 2021 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    Oot asking about the LD-50 for Adderall (i’m assuming, because those pills look identical to my pills lol) has been the highlight of my day

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