With just a week left of the Literary Tarot kickstarter to go, Brink Literacy Project has announced more names of creatives to join this ambitious and unique tarot deck. Brink’s mission is all about utilizing the power of storytelling to positively affect the lives of people. They foster a love of literature and aim to increase literacy rates. “Dani [Hedlund] and the entire Brink Literacy Project and F(r)iction team are amazing people with a beautiful mission to bring storytelling to underserved communities and people worldwide,” says writer Ellen Azevedo.
“I’ve known the people at Brink for years now and it’s an honor just to support the special, essential work they do,” says The Magicians series author Lev Grossman. “But on top of that, the Literary Tarot is a thing of beauty, gorgeous and fascinating and featuring a once-in-a-generation gathering of authors. It’s an instant classic, a labyrinth that will reward deep wandering. The books illuminate the Tarot, and the Tarot illuminates the books.”
After announcing creatives such as Jonathan Hickman, Erin Morgenstern, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Roxane Gay, and Lev Grossman during the initial release, the second wave of talent brings even more star-studded talent to the deck.
- Newly announced contributors now include:
- Fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie, best-selling author of The First Law trilogy.
- Writer and illustrator Ezra Claytan Daniels, creator of the acclaimed graphic novel Upgrade Soul and writer of BTTM FDRS
- Novelist Saint Gibson, the author of A Dowry of Blood, a retelling of the story of Dracula’s brides
- Bestselling novelist and comic book writer Christopher Golden, author of novels Ararat, Strangewood, and Of Saints and Shadows and co-creator (with Mike Mignola) of the comic book universe known as The Outerverse
- Comics writer Mel Hilario (Debian Perl)
- Danny Lore, writer of the comics Queen of Bad Dreams and Quarter Killer
- Novelist Madeline Miller (Circe and The Song of Achilles)
- Bestselling comics writer Chris Roberson (House of Lost Horizons and iZombie)
- Acclaimed novelist and comic book writer Samuel Sattin (Bezkamp and Wolfwalkers)
- Cartoonist and publisher Spike Trotman, creator of web comic Templar, Arizona and founder and owner of Iron Circus Comics
Tarot, by nature, is interpretive. For many of the contributors of the project, the correlation between tarot interpretation and literary interpretation seems obvious. Reading tarot is not just about the assigned meaning behind the card but each deck’s design plays a key part in the interpretation. Every deck is a little different. The same can be said of stories and how we interpret them based on how we read them.
“For those unfamiliar with it, tarot can seem intimidatingly occult and impenetrably arcane. But tarot actually works much like a good book: using metaphor, imagery, allusion, and plenty of imagination, the tarot tells us the story of ourselves,” says Charlie Claire Burgess of The World Witch Tarot. “As a writer and a tarot reader, I’m thrilled that the team at Brink, with their thorough appreciation for the uncanny and for innovative storytelling, have at last united these magical bedfellows in the Literary Tarot.”
“The ability to make or see less-obvious connections is,” says Bitch Planet‘s Kelly Sue DeConnick, “if not a definition of creativity itself, at least a necessary ingredient. And that’s how I use tarot cards, as a way of using chance and the language of symbols to reveal unseen connections. In my work, the cards help me find a way forward when I’m stuck. In more personal matters, I use them as journal prompts. In both cases, I don’t think the cards bring a consciousness of their own to the table, but rather act to facilitate a conversation with myself.”
And for some, like The Night Circus author Erin Morgenstern, the Literary Tarot opens up the opportunity to introduce a whole new generation of people to a different side of tarot. “I bought my first tarot deck in the early ’90s at one of those stores in the mall that would appear briefly in a haze of incense and crystals only to vanish entirely. It has been both delicious and surreal watching tarot become more and more popular since then,” says Morgenstern. “The tarot itself is composed of so many stories for interpretation that a literary version feels like a perfect match.” Pairing literature with tarot can allow the reader to see both in a new light as a result.
Of the contributors revealed during the first wave of announcements, new card and literary pairings have been revealed.
- Joe Abercrombie (The First Law trilogy) pairing The Christmas Carol with Four of Parchment (Pentacles)
- Ellen Azevedo (F(r)iction #16) pairing Midsummer’s Night Dream with Seven of Light (Cups)
- Damian Barr (Maggie & Me) pairing Tom Sawyer with Six of Light (Cups)
- Brian Bendis (The Ultimate Spiderman) pairing War of the Worlds with King of Ink (Wands)
- Joel Kim Booster (Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents) pairing Pride and Prejudice with Queen of Ink (Wands)
- Maggie Downs (Braver Than You Think) pairing Leaves of Grass with Eight of Ink (Wands)
- H.E. Edgmon (The Witch King) pairing The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with Strength
- Amal El-Mohtar (This is How You Lose the Time War) pairing Emily of New Moon with The Star
- Emil Ferris (My Favorite Thing is Monsters) pairing Bleak House pairing Three of Ink (Wands)
- Race Garber (F(r)iction #6) pairing The Scarlet Pimpernel with Five of Ink (Wands)
- Alix Harrow (The Ten Thousand Doors of January) pairing Count of Monte Cristo with Justice
- Jonathan Hickman (East of West) pairing Heart of Darkness with Ten of Quills (Swords)
- Mel Hilario (Debian Perl) pairing The Wizard of Oz with Three of Light (Cups)
- Tini Howard (X of Swords) pairing The Cold Equations with Temperance
- Patricia A. Jackson (Forging a Nightmare) pairing Three Musketeers with Six of Parchment (Pentacles)
- E. Lockhart (We Were Liars) pairing Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Ten of Parchment (Pentacles)
- Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) pairing Carmilla with Ace of Light (Cups)
- Mariah McCourt (Ash & Thorn) pairing Persuasion with Five of Parchment (Pentacles)
- Carrie Morgridge (Every Gift Matters) pairing The Junglebook with Two of Ink (Wands)
- Alec Nevala-Lee (Astounding) pairing Antigone with Two of Quills (Swords)
- Rachel Pollack (Godmother Night) pairing Oedipus Rex with Knight of Quills (Swords)
- Damian Rogers (An Alphabet for Joanna) pairing Pillow Book with Nine of Parchment (Pentacles)
- Greg Rucka (Stumptown) pairing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with Knight of Ink (Wands)
- Catherynne Valente (The Orphan’s Tale series) pairing Wife of Bath with The Empress
- Jeff VanderMeer (The Southern Reach trilogy) pairing Metamorphosis with Six of Quills (Swords)
- Ayelet Waldman (The Mommy-Track Mysteries series) pairing Emma with Two of Light (Cups)
- Lidia Yuknavitch (The Book of Joan) pairing Mrs. Dalloway with Ten of Light (Cups)
When it comes to the artists behind the 78-card deck, the work is split by suit. The Literary Tarot reimagines the traditional tarot suits. As Dani Hedlund spelled out in our interview with her, swords are now quills, wands are now ink, cups are light, and pentacles are parchment. Samantha Dow is the artist behind the Major Arcana cards, Isabel Burke is doing quills, Ejiwa “Edge” Ebenebe is doing ink as well as the box design, Shan Bennion is doing light, and Bradley Clayton is doing parchment.
Equating the suits with one part of the creative process when it comes to storytelling it just another way that the Literary Tarot balances the parallels between tarot and literature. “The process of writing and reading often feels like communing with forces and selves and worlds that are beyond our everyday consciousness and awareness, and I love that this tarot deck allows us to consult and connect with the literary figures and texts that have shaped us, haunted us, and alchemized us,” says Bestiary author K-Ming Chang.
The Literary Tarot is a no-brainer when it comes to literary folks who also have a penchant for tarot and aspects of the occult, but the deck offers up an opportunity for deck holders to explore both classic and contemporary authors and storytellers. “[It] takes the poetic genius of a major literary work and renders it in the distilled symbolism of the Tarot, then re-translates it back into words. Crazy! Inspired! The most playful smush of word and image since the invention of the caption,” says Bones creator and The Driver author Hart Hanson.
With a week left before the project ends, it’s still not too late to back the Literary Tarot and get your hands on this uniquely, beautiful tarot deck.