Mix equal parts madness and intoxication, add a dash of inspiration and stir. Voila: “Blasphemous Cocktails.”
The horror-themed cocktail recipe book and role-playing guide is the brainchild of Steve Wollett. The idea came to him last summer while he was at Gen Con, an annual convention that draws about 40,000 gaming enthusiasts to Indiana.
“We were sitting at a bar one night, talking about different game genres,” says the 43-year-old Fawn Township resident. The question arose: “Wouldn't it be cool if we could order a drink based on (horror games) from the bar?”
Not a group to waste time, “we actually started mixing stuff right there,” he says.
Funding the book: Six months later, Wollett has more than 100 cocktail recipes for the book and a committed bunch of buyers waiting for its release. The latter is thanks to the power of online crowdfunding through Kickstarter, which allows donors to back the projects that interest them.
“If I didn't have Kickstarter, there's no way this book would have gotten done,” he says. “It would have been an idea that sat on the shelf.”
Wollett set a modest goal of raising $2,500 to cover publishing costs. With nearly a month left to go before the project deadline, more than 130 donors have chipped in a combined total of more than $3,300.
“I was ecstatic. We made our funding in 10 days,” he says. “Horror is very popular, role-playing is very popular, so (the book) was a good combination” to present to the Kickstarter audience.
More to come: It's a good sign for Wollett's new venture, Blasphemy Press. Although he currently owns a health food store in Baltimore, he hopes someday his literary and gaming hobbies could become a full-time job.
“I took the name ‘Blasphemy' because the entire focus of the press is going to be horror,” he says. “Our flagship is going to be the cocktail book, but then we're going to move into publishing a magazine of horror short stories and an art book of horror images.”
The subject is one Wollett knows well. A longtime fan of author H.P. Lovecraft and the pulp horror of the early 20th century, he's not one to ignore the call of Cthulhu, one of the author's monstrous creations.
“I like to be scared. I think the thrill of being frightened without being in danger is an awesome experience,” he says. “What I like about (Lovecraft) is that he talked about things that were so strange and so alien that you really had to twist your mind to understand.”
The book: In “Blasphemous Cocktails,” Wollett features recipes he has invented as well as classic cocktails from the 1920s. He pairs them with horror-themed names such as Miskatonic Lemonade (named for a fictional setting in the Lovecraftian universe).
“There's a drink Lovecraft talked about called ‘space mead,'” he says. To create a modern version, “I used actual mead and combined it with Red Bull.”
The book also includes rules for drinking games for the real-life imbibers and their fictional counterparts in role-playing games.
“I've written up rules or am getting rules from the (role-playing game) companies for official stats” to include in the book, he says. “We've also contacted a guy who writes a lot of drinking games for geeks” who'll be contributing one just for “Blasphemous Cocktails.”
Geek cred: Don't take “geek” the wrong way; Wollett is happy to be one of the tribe.
“I've been playing role-playing games since 1978. I started with ‘Dungeons and Dragons' and moved into horror and science fiction,” he says, confessing to having tried nearly every role-playing game in existence. “I'm definitely a geek in that sense.”
It's that bit of geek obsession that drives Wollett to make the book the best it can be — not only in the gaming rules or the use of literary horror quotes but also in the quality of the cocktails. He's serious about making “Blasphemous Cocktails” a book party hosts will reach for year-round.
“We're going to invite about 50 people in to taste test the drinks” before the book goes to print, he says. “We're going to get the mixologist's opinion to fine-tune the drinks.”
For readers, gamers and anyone who loves a good drink, a trip to Lovecraft's Mountains of Madness is only a few months away.
“It'll definitely be out by July,” Wollett says.
Get the bookPre-orders for “Blasphemous Cocktails” can be made through March 1 on the Kickstarter project website at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1452186107/blasphemous-cocktails.
A pdf copy of the book is available for a $5 pledge. A print version, either perfect- or spiral-bound, costs $15. Higher funding levels include signed copies, horror-themed T-shirts and cocktail glasses, and other goodies. If the total money pledged reaches $5,000, additional benefits will kick in. The book's estimated delivery date is in July.
Learn more about Blasphemy Press at www.facebook.com/BlasphemyPress or www.blasphemypub.com. Find author and founder Steve Wollett on Twitter at @stevewollett.
— Reach Mel Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org.