EXCERPT: Be Careful What You Wish For by Michael J. Sullivan

Since finding a manual typewriter in a friend’s house when he was eight, Michael J. Sullivan has been fascinated with what doors the typewriter keys would unlock. He has written twenty-five novels, published nine, and has been translated into fifteen foreign languages. He was named to io9’s list of Most Successful Self-Published Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors and has spent more than a year (and counting) on Amazon’s Bestselling Fantasy Authors list. He’s sold more than a half million copies and has been named to more than 95 “Best Of” or “Most Anticipated” lists including those of Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads.com, and Audible.com. Michael is one of the few authors who has successfully published through all three routes: small press, self, and big five, and he helps aspiring authors through his posts on publishing for Amazing Stories. Learn more by following him on Twitter @author_sullivan and visiting his website riyria.com.

Monkeys’ Paws: Making Your Wishes Come True

Funded! This project was successfully funded on Feb 19.


Pledged of $3,000

seconds to go

I can make your wishes come true. Check out my magic talismans with a wide range of prices/number of wishes available.

Project Goals

Welcome to my Kickstarter! I’m Chand Svare Ghei. I write books and create movies, but I’m also a civil servant, part-time clinical technician, a literary historian, a man deeply in love, and a wizard.

I suppose “wizard” isn’t exactly the right word . . . but magician sounds like I do card tricks, and I have no affiliation with Wicca, so warlock would be inappropriate.

Regardless of what label you want to use, the simple fact is: I can do magic. Well . . . one particular type of magic—which brings me to my Kickstarter.

I’ve developed a process that allows me to imbue the disembodied prehensile extremity of a primate’s superior limb with the ability to grant wishes. In other words, I make magical monkey paws. For my Kickstarter, I will offer a range of paws which will grant varying numbers of wishes.

Note: Because a US Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Export Permit would be required to ship preserved animal remains overseas, backers of this Kickstarter will be limited to those in the US only. Sorry!

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What exactly is a magical monkey paw?

For those unfamiliar, and to explain how I came into such knowledge, let me introduce you to fellow author W.W. Jacobs. In 1902 Jacobs wrote a “fictional” short story in which Mr. and Mrs. White receive the paw of a dead monkey from a friend of theirs. This friend was in the British Army stationed in India, who supposedly received the paw from an old fakir. Mr. Jacobs’s tale goes on to show how the wishes produced disastrous results, leading to both the (spoiler alert) death of the Whites’ son and the (really big spoiler alert) reincarnation of his mangled and broken body.

Through my research, I learned Mr. Jacobs wrapped truth within fiction by distorting some of the facts. You see, Mr. Jacobs’s father was a wharf manager in Lower East Smithfield around 1860, and he employed a fair number of Romani workers. Romani at this time—well at any time really—had problems finding acceptance from outsiders, so they were grateful for the employment, and brought the Jacobs family into their inner circle. Young William became best friends with a boy named Durriken and the two often played with Durriken’s pet monkey, Bobo. Upon Bobo’s death (trampled in the street by a spooked horse), Durriken revealed to William a secret. The young Romani boy knew how to infuse a talisman such as the paws of a beloved pet monkey with the power to grant wishes. This was no idle boast, no tall tale invented to ease the loss of a passed pet. As it turns out, Durriken really could do it.

My exhaustive research tells me nothing about what Durriken did with his wishes, but I believe William used his in 1898 to obtain an offer to write six short stories for the princely sum of £500 and yet surprisingly he turned the offer down. I think he did this because he was scared. He likely made the wish merely as a test to see if Durriken had been telling the truth. When it came true, he was stunned and suspicious of possible negative repercussions. William continued his civil service job at the Post Office Savings Bank, and it wasn’t until 1899 that his writing income produced a living wage, which allowed him to leave that position. So, in 1902 William fictionalized his Romani boyhood friend into a fakir and illustrated his suspicion of the paw’s magic through his cautionary tale—a tale without an end.

While going through William Jacobs’s personal papers—the man wrote down everything—I found the incantation used by Durriken, and through scientific experimentation I learned each time the ritual is performed a new wish is stored. I’m not sure how many wishes William and Durriken added to their paws, but I discovered the limit is determined by the size of the paw. Ten appears to be the top-end for a monkey, but I suspect the paw of a larger primate, say a gorilla, could hold as many as twenty wishes.

Where do the paws come from?

First let me assure you that no monkeys have been—or will be—killed for their paws. It’s not like I’m a poacher of ivory, killing elephants for the black market. All the paws have been obtained from monkeys who already laid down their lives in the advancement of science. I have a part-time job as a clinical technician for the Heredity Disease Foundation. The lab, which I won’t name, is searching a cure for Huntington’s disease and they use Rhesus, cynomolgus, squirrel, and owl monkeys. One of my jobs is to cremate the remains, and over the past two years, I’ve collected and preserved 120 paws which I plan to use for the fulfillment of Kickstarter rewards.

What will the money be used for?

As I mentioned in my introduction, I’m a man in love, and I will use the proceeds from this Kickstarter to marry Cecilie Schmidt, the love of my life. Cecilie has always dreamed of a “big wedding,” but despite my two jobs, we really can’t afford more than a civil ceremony at the courthouse. Giving her a day to remember is my goal, so I thank you in advance for your contributions.

How can you be sure the incantation really works?

As I mentioned, I carefully tested the incantation while determining the number of charges that could be stored. I personally used the paws to make relatively small wishes, and each one was granted. To verify the charm works for others, I provided paws to two friends of mine (one wish each), and they also used the paws successfully. One found his birth-mother, who as it turns out had spent years desperately searching for him, and they couldn’t be happier. My other friend got his sister accepted into her dream college. Neither I nor my friends have had any adverse experiences from using the paws.

Why don’t you just wish for money to pay for the wedding?

Despite my assurances of the paw’s safety, Cecilie has her trepidations. She read the Jacobs story in high school and is far too easily influenced by literature. While I’m convinced the negative outcomes told by Jacobs exist only for dramatic effect, she fears using a paw will bring disaster. When accepting my proposal of marriage, she insisted on several stipulations regarding the paw including that I never use one to wish for anything to do with her or us. She went so far as to have me put it in writing—I suspect to emphasize the point, as I’m certain no court would uphold such a contract. She also made me promise that in the event of her untimely death, or death of any kind, I do not wish her back.

So you see, I’m contractually prohibited from using a paw myself. While my fiancé is superstitious, and as I said far too easily swayed by what she reads, I can assure you the monkey paws I am offering are as safe as any severed animal limb on the market today.



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