order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish


The Brothers Delacorte

Brothers Delacorte Black and White

So tomorrow I’m appearing at the Book Cellar with the Brothers Delacorte.

“The Brothers Delacorte?” you howl. “What are you giving me now, Kennedy? This is sheer japery.”

Be still, butterfly. The story is this.

The Order of Odd-Fish is published by Random House’s Delacorte Press. Last year I discovered that two other Chicago YA authors, Daniel Kraus and Adam Selzer, are also on Delacorte. This coincidence was too good to pass up.

We decided to band together.

Brothers Delacorte Album

If you go to the Brothers Delacorte website you can read our manifesto, which has to do with encouraging boys’ literacy. But here I’d like to boast of my fellow brothers’ formidable talents.

Daniel Kraus is not only an author of the tense, harrowing The Monster Variations (for which our appearance at the Book Cellar is a release party), but also a filmmaker. Each film in his celebrated WORK documentary series chronicles the everyday life of someone in a particular job. So far he’s done a documentary for a Sherriff, a Musician, a Preacher, and a Professor. This is a project of—dare I invoke this sacred Chicago name?—Studs Turkel-ian proportions.

But there’s more to Daniel Kraus than a sober documentarian. In high school, he was a giddily inventive amateur filmmaker in the Ed Wood mold. At his blog Francis Ford Iowa you can see the films he made in high school, all of them gloriously bad, unintentionally hilarious, and occasionally genius. As Daniel himself describes it: “When I was growing up in Iowa, I made movies with my friends. Many of them were remakes of movies I liked, like MISERY or THE GODFATHER. Others were originals. All of them were awful . . . Now I’m blogging my old movies chronologically for your enjoyment. Let’s feel the pain together.”

Here’s a hilarious trailer that compiles the highlights, to give you a taste:

But wait! Let’s not forget that fellow Delacorte Brother Adam Selzer is also a filmmaker. (These fake siblings make me feel like a slacker. For crying out loud, Adam even has a Wikipedia page.) He’s written a ton of books: How to Get Suspended and Influence People, Pirates of the Retail Wasteland, and I Put A Spell On You, as well as the upcoming Andrew North Blows Up the World, I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It, and The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History. (When does he sleep?)

Not only that, but Adam is in two bands, The Broken Chimneys and The Back Row Hooligans. And if that weren’t enough, he is a tour guide and ghost investigator for Weird Chicago Tours.

I think of Adam as our Ringo.

Brothers Delacorte with Books

In any case, if you’re in Chicago, please come out to the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square at 7 pm for the very first Brothers Delacorte event. I’m proud to be sharing the stage with them.

Worth Your Salt

Belgian Prankster Beer! Ichthala Mask!

The Belgian Prankster beer. Ichthala Mask

I received two INCREDIBLE examples of Order of Odd-Fish-inspired art this week. I defy any author to top them!

On the left? Belgian Prankster beer. On the right? A mask of Ichthala, the All-Devouring Mother. I may not have many fans, but my fans have style.

The Belgian Prankster beer first. It was brewed by husband-and-wife team Matt Mayes and Meg Rutledge. The gorgeous label was drawn by Gabe Patti. I first met Matt and Meg when they came to an Odd-Fish reading at the Hopleaf—and we hit it off splendidly—and that’s when they told me their plan to brew a Belgian Prankster beer!

(Coincidentally, Matt and Meg live right around the corner from me. They call their brewery “West of Western,” a reference to the neighborhood we share.)

I’ve spent the last three years under the strict beer tutelage of Philip Montoro, and I can tell you that Belgian Prankster is extraordinary, professional quality, spectacular, delicious. But let’s have Matt explain the Belgian Prankster in his own words:

A crazy Belgian pale ale (think Belgian + American IPA). Piloncillo sugar gives a nice hat tip to our Latino neighborhood, and helps balance out the generous amount of hops . . . This beer is not for the faint of heart—much like the Prankster! It’s strong with lots of hop-bite, which will mellow over time. Meg and I were buzzed after sharing a bottle . . . We infused the grains while Brilliant Pebbles was on the stereo, and then placed a copy of Odd-Fish on top of them while they soaked for an hour, trying our best to capture the essence of the Prankster via osmosis. (We really needed some chanting in there too.) Later in the day, we had our first boil-over ever, foam and hops everywhere—definitely something the Prankster would do. In spite of the mess, we were quite pleased.

I was quite pleased, too—especially when they generously gave me eighteen bottles! Matt and Meg will be making another batch this fall. Here’s the geniuses responsible for this divine beer—from left, Matt, Meg, and Gabe:

The Makers of the Belgian Prankster

And here I am enjoying it, along with a closeup of Gabe’s brilliant watercolor for the label (check out the colors of the Belgian flag, and the words spelled out in balloons!):

Drinking the Belgian Prankster. Label Closeup

Next up: the Ichthala mask!

I first met Caitlin, the creator of the mask, when she wrote me an email asking if she could read the audiobook of The Order of Odd-Fish. As it happened, I’d already sold the rights to Audible.com (and as it turned out, Jessica Almasy’s reading of the audiobook was stellar). Anyway, I responded, and we struck up a friendship.

It turns out that Caitlin makes and sells masks, and so naturally I wanted an Odd-Fish mask. Little did I know the awesomeness that she would unleash!

Caitlin and me

That’s Caitlin, and I’m wearing the mask. The tentacles are posable, and the various bits of fabric are held together with multicolored thread, just like how the Silent Sisters stitched together the Ichthala. It was so glorious I wore it for the Brilliant Pebbles show at the Green Music Festival, but my bouncing caused the mask to slip over my eyes in the middle of a song—I had to play the rest without being able to see my fretboard—I barely succeeded.

Anyway, Caitlin was in town for Vividcon. I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of the practice of vidding before—that is, making underground videos by cobbling together the clips of various shows to make a whole new work. For instance, one fan of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica series, who didn’t like the way the final 10 episodes of the series played out, cut-and-pasted snippets of various episodes and put them in an order such that he generated his own, preferred ending to the series. I’ll be sure to watch it as soon as I’m done watching the series (Heather and I are on Season 3 now).

When I mentioned vidding to Matt and Meg, it turned out they knew all about it. “What! Haven’t you seen the one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer killing Edward Cullen?” they said. I hadn’t, and so I hunted it down. Looks like these vidders are on to something:

Hilarious! And so not only have I received a gorgeous Ichthala mask, but my horizons have been broadened. Thanks, Caitlin! And thanks, Matt and Meg and Gabe! I’m thrilled, honored, and kind of intimidated at your talent.

Mask and Beer