McClanahan poses with "The Congress of Wonders" hats, which will go to the backers who put the project over $10,000, Mimi Pickering and Dee Davis of Whitesburg. Photo by Nyoka Hawkins.
By Alex Forkner
After exceeding his Kickstarter goal of $10,000 to produce CDs of himself reading two of his works, Ed McClanahan was overjoyed.
“We’re just beside ourselves with delight,” the author said of he and his production team. “It really is just a wonderful thing. I’m so pleased. It was—well, still is a lot of work, because there’s a lot to do in the aftermath of it, but it sure did feel good to go over that $10,000 mark.”
The 30-day campaign launched on June 17 and closed Tuesday, July 17 with a total of $13,048 raised. The money will be used to fund the creation of spoken-word recordings of McClanahan’s novella “Fondelle” and a book of stories “A Congress of Wonders.”
“I just love to do readings of my work,” McClanahan said. “I like that way of connecting with audiences. I’ve done countless hundreds of them over the years. I think a lot of people have discovered my work by way of having heard one of my readings, so that’s just something I wanted to leave as part of my literary legacy.”
McClanahan said hearing a story read by its author can add to a reader’s appreciation of the tale.
“I think it’s a good thing for there to be some record of the way the author heard the words in his or her head when the writing was happening. In an odd sort of way, I think when you listen to a story being read by the person who wrote it, you get the nuances in it that might have escaped you when you were reading.”
The project began several years ago when McClanahan was approached by Jack Wright, a former Ohio University film school professor and audio producer, after a reading. Wright suggested McClanahan record some of his work. They later joined forces with publishers Nyoka Hawkins and Gurney Norman of Old Cove Press. To finance the project, Hawkins suggested starting a Kickstarter campaign.
McClanahan said the project required some hard work in the sound studio to capture his voice. Although he has been doing public readings for decades, the recording process required more focus.
“You have to get a different rhythm going, because if you doing a reading publicly and you stumble over a word you just go on, but when you’re recording you have to stop and back up and re-say it. It’s a tricky process; it really is, but I really enjoyed doing it.”
The team recorded about four hours of content in around nine hours, a time McClanahan called “pretty good.” Things sped up once he started recognizing his own mistakes instead of waiting for the sound technician to point them out, McClanahan said.
The CDs are limited edition, meaning they will not be on sale. Only backers of the Kickstarter campaign will receive copies.
“The primary reason is my [Counterpoint book] publisher would have something to say about that, if I [sold copies],” McClanahan said. “They hold the rights to anything that I sell. That’s a standard operation. It’s not just my publisher who would do that; they’re all that way. But they don’t mind at all that I give them away, and that’s fine up to the point that I can’t afford to give them away. The Kickstarter thing made that possible, and it means that those recordings will always be there.”
The production team estimates that they will be ready to distribute the CDs by early to mid-September. Once available, the project will celebrate its success at a party for backers at Lexington artist Johnny Lackey’s new studio on N. Limestone in Lexington. At the party, backers can collect their copies and other rewards. McClanahan will read a short passage of his work and sign CDs and other rewards for supporters.
In addition to the party, McClanahan will spend some quality time with a number of his backers by taking them to brunch, visiting his office full of interesting items or taking a day-trip to the Maysville area where the author grew up and set most of his fiction.
McClanahan said it is meaningful for so many people to contribute to the success of this project.
“It’s really a joy to me that we had 161 people invest in varying degrees in my work, and that feels awfully good. It’s like, you find out how many friends you have.”
Click here to read more about McClanahan and his project.