ORREST FENN: Al Simpson wrote a book called “Right in The Old Gazoo

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23-10-2013 Collected Works Bookstore Video Click Here
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Video transcript of interview with Forrest Fenn at the Collected Works bookstore 10/23/2013 ORREST FENN: Al Simpson wrote a book called “Right in The Old Gazoo.” You remind me of that. Ask him what a gazoo is, and he’ll say it’s a Wyoming end of a mule that’s looking at you.

MICHAEL MCGARRITY: Yes, I know what a gazoo is! (laughter)

FENN: But I gotta tell you, this guy (gesturing to Preston) has had two or three books number one on the New York Times bestseller list. That’s not too bad. This guy (gesturing to McGarrity) was voted New Mexico’s favorite writer. I can’t imagine why, but...

DOUG PRESTON: Forrest has sold more books than all of us together.

MCGARRITY: And cut out the middleman too. Pure profit for this guy.

PRESTON: Amazing, isn’t it? You know he’s made more profit on this book than it cost him to bury the treasure? (laughter) I don’t know. That’s not true, because the profits are going to charity.

MCGARRITY: Well, I think, Forrest, I know you said you wanted us to talk about ourselves, and we can do that a little bit, but really I think you ought to talk about your new book.

PRESTON: Yeah, I’d love to hear about it.

MCGARRITY: I understand it was ghost written. (laughter)

FENN: Well, if you read the preface to my book, you’ll understand why I titled it “Too Far To Walk.” But when I wrote “The Thrill of the Chase,” uh, I never - I’ve written nine books but I never did consider myself a writer really. I was kind of a hacker. I told a story in my book, “The Thrill of The Chase” that I read JD Salinger’s book “Catcher in the Rye.” It was very much celebrated. Everybody was talking about “Catcher in the Rye” and I read that book, and I said, “If this is a good book, I can do that!” I grew up with Mickey Spillane.

MCGARRITY: “My Gun Is Quick”

FENN: “I, The Jury” and you remind me of him a little.

MCGARRITY: I remind you? Thank you. Thank you.

FENN: Except he was a lot more fun. Anyway, I started writing “Too Far To Walk” I think in April. I had written some of the stories before that because they’re on my blog. But I just decided, all of the sudden, when I wrote “The Thrill of The Chase” I’d sit at my desk at night and read the book and I’d tell myself, “You know, I really like this book.” I hadn’t heard a writer say that about his own book before. But I said, “Maybe I’ll do this again.” So I took some things off my blog and added a few stories to it, and did a little bit of research on the computer and four or five months later I’ve got “Too Far To Walk.” It’s more of a peek back into the scrapbook of my life. Things that I’ve done. Things that have happened to me. Places I’ve been. And I credit my wife for pushing me through my life some. Hold your hand up, Peggy. You deserve it.

MCGARRITY: You know, Forrest, I have to say that, when a writer writes from his heart, when a writer is compelled to write a story, when there’s no avoiding it, that’s usually when the best kind of writing occurs. Because, it’s got a life of its own. It’s got a purpose of its own. So, the fact that you weren’t finished after “The Thrill of The Chase” that you had more of the story to tell, and you are a good storyteller is a testament to the fact that this is something that you were compelled to do. And you did it with that kind of motivation is really where the best writers come from.

FENN: Well you two guys write murder mysteries which means you have to know what you’re going to say before you get started.

MCGARRITY: Oh no, that’s not true.

FENN: Well that’s what you’re supposed to do. (laughter) Well anyway, about 60% through the book, you’re supposed to have a climax for everything. It comes to a boil there.

MCGARRITY: Have you been taking writer’s courses somewhere? Like going to writers’ groups, or studying? Because that’s wrong, Forrest.

FENN: I just turned my hearing aid off. (laughter) And these guys have to know where they’re going because they have to have an ending. When I write, I can just turn myself loose and and say anything I want to because I don’t have any rules. You guys have rules - you have editors. You said earlier that you turned your book in, and your editor sent it back and wants you to change a bunch of stuff.

PRESTON: You know that’s one of the things I love about “Too Far To Walk” is the directness of it. And thank God you didn’t have an editor. You know? I mean, I think there is a simplicity to your stories. It’s almost like you’re sitting around the campfire and you’re just telling the stories, and there’s no sort of artificial - thing. I have a question for you. The design of that book is really unique. I’ve never seen a book quite like that. Which, you know, involves writing, and there’s beautiful drawings in the book, which I hope you’ll talk about, and there are these old photographs. The way it’s all put together, it’s an absolutely gorgeous book. So, how did you get the idea for that? Tell us about the drawings and the artist, and how you managed to come up with this really original way of presenting your life.

FENN: Well, I hate to read anything where the next sentence is predictable. I’ve written nine books and in each of my books I’ve made up words. And I look in the dictionary to make sure it isn’t there. My argument is if I use a word, and the reader knows exactly what I’m talking about, then who cares what the word is? I’ve done that in all my books. I’ve said some things in my book, I’ve made some deliberate errors just to see if anybody would find them and they don’t.

MCGARRITY: Or they’re just being polite. But you know Forrest, I think Doug’s point is really well made. I mean, you have this natural storyteller ability and it shines through not only in the words that you put on the page, but the way the whole book is put together, and the way it presents itself to the reader. And I think that’s what really important about your writing. You tell a great story and it’s like you’re sitting in a room with an old friend and you’re listening to a grand tale that has a lot of truth to it.

FENN: Well in “The Thrill of The Chase” I talk about Hemingway’s book “For Whom The Bell Tolls.” And I talked about the mud and the dead horse and whatever. I talked about it being World War One and all the terrible things that happened. But it wasn’t World War One at all. It was the Spanish Revolution. Not one person called my attention to the fact that I had named the wrong war in my book.

MCGARRITY: Again, it’s being polite.

PRESTON: That’s because people are afraid of you.

MCGARRITY: We know that you could put a hit out on either one of us at a moment’s notice.

FENN: Well you were talking about my book, I see Lou Bruno there. Lou, stand up. Lou is not bashful, he’ll wave to you. Lou has been my, I don’t know, what do you call yourself Lou?

BRUNO: Creative Director.

FENN: Creative Director, yeah, that’s jargon for making things happen. But Lou is the one that hired the designer for my book, Susan Caldwell. Is Susan here? No. But anyway, We have meetings once a week, and we go over - they propose things to me and we discuss them and I approve them and they go back and forth. When the whole thing’s finished, Lou gets bids for the printing and he talks to the binder and he makes them. So I’m laughing at all -

MCGARRITY: These guys do all the work. You’re saying it’s a collaborative effort?

FENN: Yes.

MCGARRITY: Well I think any book, whether it’s done with Lou or done through my publisher, or done through Doug’s publisher, combines a big collaboration because all of those things have to happen regardless. Fortunately, you’re in a position where you can control a lot more of that than we can. But still, it’s got your name on it, and you’re the one that bears the total responsibility for it from beginning to end and from cover to cover.

FENN: Yeah, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t blame them.

MCGARRITY: No. Blame Lou! Lou, you’re blamed.

FENN: But I had a pretty good illustrator, Danny Bodelson. I’ve known that family for - there’s ten kids in Doc Bodelson’s family and eight of them have worked for me over the years.

MCGARRITY: Really, all eight of them?

FENN: Yeah, and uh these guys write mysteries but they don’t illustrate their book. I can’t understand why you don’t have an illustrator.

MCGARRITY: Wait a minute. There was artwork in “Hard Country.” I take umbrage at this. In “Hard Country” there’s artwork. There’s a map.

FENN: It’s not an illustration.

MCGARRITY: It is too! There’s a map, and then in the various different sections, there’s a photograph.

FENN: Let’s talk about Doug’s books. (laughter)

PRESTON: I tried to convince, you know Forrest had this idea, why don’t you illustrate one of your thrillers? And I thought, the more I thought about it, the more I thought, you know that’s a really good idea. I mean, books used to be illustrated. All the Sherlock Holmes books and stories, you know, when they were published were illustrated. That was a very common thing to do in the nineteenth century. Dickens’ books were illustrated, so I went to my publisher and it was just, “Absolutely not! No, no! People will think it’s a children’s book!” I said, you know this is a way to distinguish something, to elevate this above the crowd. There’s so many thrillers published, so many murder mysteries. This will be something different. They wouldn’t even think about it.

FENN: When you look at the great books, “Last of the Mohicans”, “Blackbeard”, I could go all down the - books that were illustrated by the Brandywine School painters: N.C. Wyeth, Harvey Dunn, Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, W.H.D. Koener - they’re wonderful. Those books would not be 20% of what they are without those illustrations.

MCGARRITY: You know, I totally agree with you. In a way, I tried to do something like that with my first four novels. The first four books that I wrote, two of them were published by W.W. Norton, two by Scribner. I got the grandson of Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth to do the illustrations for the hardbacks. Peter de la Fuente, who owns the Wyeth Hurd Gallery here in Santa Fe did the illustrations for the cover art for those four novels of mine and they took off and became collectible partially because of who the artist was and the relationship to NC Wyeth and Peter Hurd, Henriette Wyeth, and Andy Wyeth. People were collecting those books on the basis of the cover art for the first four novels.

PRESTON: That’s very interesting. Really interesting.

FENN: But you guys are big shot writers. You should not let your editor tell you how to make a book. Why don’t you tell him how you want to do it?

MCGARRITY: Doug and I are leaving tomorrow. We’re going to New York City

FENN: Good. Good.

MCGARRITY: We’re going to kick some butt.

FENN: Next flight leaves at eight o’clock.

PRESTON: Anyway, but this book, I’ve really enjoyed reading the stories. It’s the kind of thing you can dip into it and read a story, and then… But, as I was reading this book, and I know this is a subject that some of you are very interested in. I was realizing boy, you could get out a map, and in fact there is a map in the book, and you could trace where Forrest has gone from reading this book. And you know what? That’s a pretty big, you know, there’s a big hint right there to where his treasure might be buried. Honestly. And I was thinking maybe I should do that. But, no, no, no. I can’t be looking for this treasure.

MCGARRITY: Didn’t you send me an email, Forrest? Some guy that wrote you and said that he’d been to the event in April for the “Thrill of The Chase” and he picked up “Thrill of The Chase” and one of Doug’s books, and one of my books, and he said that he read them both, and that they both had clues to the treasure in them? Yeah, so there are people that are reading our books, though, thinking they’re going to find - you know, that’s why I want you to read “Backlands” when it comes out next May!

FENN: I taught these guys everything they know. But not everything I know.

PRESTON: My last book, “Two Graves” was dedicated to Forrest Fenn. I’ll just end right there.

FENN: I’m very honored you gave me a very special edition, leather bound and boxed and so forth. You’re ok for a writer.

PRESTON: But anyway, so tell us… Let’s get to the… How many people here have looked for the treasure? How many people here are here to see if there are going to be any clues accidentally? That’s why we have to start talking about these treasure because honestly are there in this new book that are not in the other one? There it is. “Too Far To Walk” that are not in “The Thrill of The Chase”? Are there clues in this book?

FENN: There is one clue in this book that’s not in “The Thrill of The Chase.” And I didn’t know the clue was in this book until it was printed.

PRESTON: Did you freak out when you realized?

FENN: Where’s Charmay Allred? Charmay hold your hand up. We can’t see you, Charmay. Charmay and I own the little One Horse Land and Cattle Company. It has nothing to do with cows or horses or land, but it’s a publishing company and so on. Charmay’s been with - Charmay I’ve known her for, I think 41 years. I talk about it in the new book. But we have more fun, and if I don’t have an answer to a question, I just make up one. Because the person that asked the question needs an answer.

MCGARRITY: I agree with that. What’s your point?

FENN: I forgot. (laughter)

PRESTON: Don’t freak out, he’s just teasing everyone.

MCGARRITY: The clue that you didn’t realize was in the book until after the book was finished.

FENN: That’s right.

MCGARRITY: The accidental clue. That’s a good title.

FENN: I like that. You should write a book about that. Let me talk a minute about the cover. Those that have been on the blogs know who Dal Neitzel is. He lives on a little island up in Washington state. But about four or five days before we were going to the printer, we didn’t have a cover. So I called Dal on the phone and I said, “Dal, go to the Madison River where I put a little rubber life raft in the water and fished for three days down to Baker’s hole and take a picture of your shadow in exactly that spot where I put the rubber life raft in the water. He did that. The shadow wasn’t on there. We had to fake that later. But I think that’s interesting that this is the very spot on the Madison River. It’s about ten miles from Baker’s Hole.

MCGARRITY: That’s where the treasure is?

FENN: Are you impressed with that?

PRESTON: That’s a great story, I love that story.

MCGARRITY: That’s where the treasure is!

FENN: And I tell the story about river bathing is best in this book. It’s green around the edges. Dal Neitzel took that photograph exactly in that spot where I used to bathe when I was a kid in the Firehole River in Wyoming. So that adds a little intrinsic value.

PRESTON: That’s good! Do I see a little gleam of gold in that picture? Is that a coin right there?

MCGARRITY: Is that a clue?

FENN: You wouldn’t know it if it was.

MCGARRITY: I wouldn't know it.

PRESTON: But Forrest, you were telling me about how many emails you got and how you’re answering them. Talk about that. That was astonishing.

FENN: I passed 24,000 emails a couple of days ago. I’m still getting about 80 to 100 a day. But if a person writes me a real nice email, signs their name, doesn’t ask me any questions, then I respond to it. I have probably 15,000 that say, “Mr. Fenn, we know we’re not going to find the treasure, but I want to thank you for getting me and my kids off the couch and into the mountains.” That’s very rewarding to me.

MCGARRITY: Is there going to be a third book?

FENN: What?

MCGARRITY: Will there be a third book? Dorothy has asked for a third book, and she asked me to see whether or not you’d be willing to write a third book.

FENN: Are you asking me to say something about Texas? I don’t understand what you’re saying. Texas?

MCGARRITY: Taxes? No. Will this be a trilogy where you continue the story? Will we have more to read?

FENN: Well, I started writing a children’s book, and I found it came so natural to me that I didn’t want to embarrass myself by finishing the book. So I don’t want any suspenses anymore. I don’t want deadlines. I don’t want Lou Bruno to tell me I can’t do this, I can’t do that. So I decided I’m just not going to write any more books, I don’t think.

MCGARRITY: The “I don’t think” at the end of that sentence does leave a lot to be desired in terms of whether you will or won’t write another book.

FENN: Who invited this guy?

MCGARRITY: Would you like me to restate the question?

FENN: No, I don’t understand you.

MCGARRITY: Are you going to write another book, Forrest?

FENN: I don’t think so, but I’ve written five books since I first made that statement.

MCGARRITY: Alright, the answer is clear, folks.

FENN: The problem is, that I don’t consider myself a good writer. I work 10 times harder on a sentence than you guys do.

MCGARRITY: I don’t believe you.

FENN: It takes a lot more out of me than

PRESTON: Your sentences seem so natural. You know, the best writing advice I ever got came from someone who said, “Look if you’re writing something and you’re just all hung up and can’t say, it’s just complicated. You’re trying to say something and it isn’t working, just think of the simplest way to say it, the cleanest way. Just say it. Forget the metaphors, forget the fancy, you know the language, forget the big vocabulary. Just say what you want to say. Now that’s probably the best way.

FENN: Doug, sometimes when I get to an end of a sentence, I forgot why I started it in the first place.

MCGARRITY: But Forrest, you have to listen to what Doug is saying, because it's very important. What happened in the early part of the 20th century is that good storytelling got hijacked by English professors who decided that they were going to be the ones that were going to tell the reading public what constituted literature and what didn’t. Okay? And for the last 120 years, or so, people have been falling for this idea that writers have to write in sort of a painterly way with lots of big words, and lots of allusions and lots of metaphors and lots of this and lots of that and 80% of the people that write those books are college professors who can’t make a dime as writers. But they can teach other people how to write literature. Right? Good storytelling was what the novel was always based on right from the get-go. Right from the beginning. It’s always been adventure. It’s always been exploration. It’s always been the story of people. Of men and women doing remarkable things.

PRESTON: People pushed to the limit.

MCGARRITY: That’s what you do. You’re a storyteller. Don’t sell yourself short.

PRESTON: Hear, hear!

FENN: You read in “The Thrill of The Chase” I wrote my obituary many years ago and it says, “I wish I could have lived to do the things I was attributed to.”

MCGARRITY: Well, right, in your case there’s been a hell of a lot attributed to you over the years. Right? Right? Peggy’s nodding.

PRESTON: I often hear Forrest referred to as the controversial Forrest Fenn. Which is quite an honor, I think.

FENN: Well, I’ve been called eccentric and I’m flattered by that because the difference between an eccentric and a kook is an eccentric has money.

MCGARRITY: Yeah. One of the things that allows you to become even more eccentric Forrest, is to be a writer. Because writers, by definition, are eccentric.

FENN: Five years ago, I couldn’t spell arthur, now I are one.

PRESTON: So getting back to the treasure hunt, and the 23,000 emails you got. We had lunch the other day and you told me some really interesting stories about some people that are looking for the treasure and that you had met. And some of the strategums and ruses some of these crazy people try to use on you to get you to reveal where the treasure was and some of the experiences you had. Tell the audience about some of those. I thought that was very interesting.

FENN: Stephanie, hold you hand up. That’s Stephanie Thirtyacre. This is the 45th time that she’s gone looking for the treasure from Chicago. We better give her an A for tenacity. But she enjoys it. There was lady, a writer from Texas who called me on the phone and she said, “Mr. Fenn who is your audience for this book?” I’ve told this story before, and I said, “My audience is every redneck with a pickup truck and lost his job and has a wife and 12 kids and has nothing to do. Throw your bedroll in the back of the truck and go look for the treasure and take your kids with you.” I’ve had so many emails from people that tell me that’s exactly what they’re doing.

MCGARRITY: Well you’ve helped grow the New Mexico economy actually. You really have. I mean, has the Chamber of Commerce given you an award for bringing thousands of people to Northern New Mexico to search for treasure?

FENN: No but I got a Pulitzer for this book. They lost it in the mail, though.

MCGARRITY: That happened to me one year too.

PRESTON: Well set your alarm for 3 am because the Nobel committee might be calling soon.

MCGARRITY: Well, listen, I’m looking at the time here, and do you have any more that you want to say, or shall we go drink?

FENN: I’m sitting here taking notes on what you’re saying. Just keep talking.

PRESTON: I was interested, Forrest, when you told me that there have been - how many people have called you up and said, “I found the treasure.”

FENN: The last time I counted, I had 35 different men have called me and said that they have the treasure and that it’s in their possession. So about half of them I say, “Will you sell me the little bracelet back?” And they say, “What bracelet?” One time I asked this guy… he said, I found it, I’m looking at it right now. I said, “Can you tell me if the hot water ruined the patina on that beautiful bronze box?” He said, “Thank you!” and he hung up. He thought that was a clue. He was going to start going to all the places where there is hot water.

FROM AUDIENCE: Ojo Caliente, here we come!

PRESTON: What about the guy with the broken down pickup truck that needed your help?

FENN: There was a guy, he said, “My truck is beat up, but I know where the treasure chest is.” He said, “If my truck stops running in the mountains, will you pick me up and take me the rest of the way to the treasure?” And another thing, I think this guy’s pretty original, a man called me on the phone and told me that he had found my treasure. And he wasn’t going to sell me the bracelet back because he wanted to keep it. He said, “I just want you to know that I have your treasure chest.” I said, “I don’t believe you.” He said, “Well, it’s certainly true.” And I said, “In 30 minutes I’m going to go out and see if the treasure is still there and find out whether you’re telling the truth or not.” So, I waited 30 minutes, I drove out of my driveway, there was a black limo that started up and followed me. I should have driven to Montana or someplace.

MCGARRITY: You gotta answer this question truthfully. Forrest, has this just been a hell of a lot of fun for you? I mean, are you having a good time with this? Because you sure act like you are. Is this one of the most humorous things you’ve ever done in your life?

FENN: It’s the most outrageous thing I’ve ever done. But yeah, it’s fun. It’s fun to see what people are doing. Everybody sends me an email and tells me exactly where they’ve been and there’s a certain percentage of searchers that will not accept the fact that they’re wrong. So they’ll send me an email, “I went there to where the treasure chest was but it’s gone. One of two things happened: either the whole thing’s a hoax or somebody’s already taken it and you should let everybody else know the treasure’s been found.

MCGARRITY: A number of people get angry at you don’t they?

FENN: Yeah. Yeah.

PRESCOT: Weren’t they threatening to sue you?

FENN: To sue me? There was one guy who said he was going to go talk to his lawyer. Yeah, well, you know, people… There are a small group of people that are obsessed by the treasure hunt and a lot of them look at it as real adventure, something to do. Particularly with the kids. This last summer, you know, I don’t know how many people were looking but I wouldn’t be surprised at 30 or 35 or 40,000 people were out looking. The emails I get, and I get emails from little kids, you know, eight or nine year old kids will shoot me an email and say “My dad won’t let me - won’t take me out again this weekend, would you call him please?”

MCGARRITY: The converse of that, Forrest, I’d like to ask the audience how many people here have never looked for the treasure?

PRESTON: Peggy’s got her hand raised!

MCGARRITY: Peggy, you raised your hand?

PRESTON: Peggy, what do you think of all this treasure hunting business?

PEGGY FENN: You don’t want to know. (laughter)

MCGARRITY: But I know what you really think, Peggy. We all know.

MAN OFF CAMERA: I know it’s got some of my gold in it.

MCGARRITY: Some of your gold?

MAN OFF CAMERA: He bought it from me. I sold him some Krugerrands for $220 an ounce. Boy, what a chump I am.

PRESTON: Wow, there’s proof right there.

MCGARRITY: I’ve seen, well Doug and I have both seen the treasure.

PRESTON: Oh I’ve seen it, yes.

MCGARRITY: We’ve seen the chest. We’ve seen the contents. You know, it was, mind-boggling and jaw-dropping when I first saw it the first time.

PRESTON: That was a really heavy chest.

MCGARRITY: It was a heavy chest.

PRESTON: I mean, did you really, did you manage to do that on your own?

MCGARRITY: Or did Shiloh help you carry it to the - Shiloh? Did Shiloh help carry it?

FENN: Well, I’ve said before that the treasure chest is heavy and it, I made two trips to hide it where I wanted it to be. But I’ve told people, don’t look for the treasure chest in a place where a 79 or 80 year old guy can’t take it. I mean people tell me they’re climbing up on top of a mountain. These guys are making a mistake, I don’t want to interrupt them.

MCGARRITY: But you have narrowed the field of exploration down to the Rockies north of Santa Fe. So there’s only several hundred million square miles out there that really needs to be paid attention to at a reduced elevation. Right? So, can we say, no higher than…

FENN: I’ll give you another clue, just because you’re such a nice guy. The treasure is hidden below 20,000 feet. (laughter)

MCGARRITY: Great. That really helps.

PRESTON: I’m gone man!

FENN: You guys are impossible.

MCGARRITY: It’s your party. You invited us

FENN: I’ve gotten some really interesting emails. This one kid sent me an email and he said, “Mr. Fenn, if I find the treasure chest, do I have to share it with my sister?”

MCGARRITY: And you said yes you do.

FENN: I wrote him back and I said, “Ask your father.” He wrote back and said, “No, I don’t want to ask my father.”

MCGARRITY: Do we want to take some questions, Forrest? Are you up for a few questions from the audience?

FENN: Sure.

PRESTON: We’ll repeat them so everyone can hear.

MCGARRITY: The fellow in the back, there. (inaudible). Speak up a little bit.

MAN OFF CAMERA: Yeah, hi Forrest, I was here for your last review, when Dal was here, Cynthia wasn’t though. I read your blog though. I know that you’ve been giving clues on the Today show, and the last one that I heard was that it’s not in Utah and not in Idaho. Has there been another clue given out since then?

PRESTON: Okay, the question was, you’ve been giving clues on the Today Show and he heard the last clue was that it’s not in Idaho, and not in Utah. Have you given out any other clues since then?

FENN: Not deliberately.

MCGARRITY: Just the accidental one in the book.

FENN: But you know, those clues are not really viable. Because if you look at a map of the Rocky Mountains, there’s this much of it that’s in Idaho, and this much is in Utah. I haven’t given a clue, I think, that was going to help anybody substantially.

MCGARRITY: You know he really doesn’t want anybody to find this treasure.

FENN: Well, you know, let me put this in perspective. So many people have decided they’re going to take a picnic lunch out on Sunday and go look for the treasure. Or something to do over Spring Break. I’m looking at a hundred years down the road, a thousand years, maybe 10,000 years down the road. It took me 15 years the poem. I changed it so many times and I’ve said before that I didn’t write that poem, it was written by an architect. Each word is deliberate.

MCGARRITY: The chances are not good for the searchers. Stephanie? I’m sorry. But keep looking. Keep coming to New Mexico. Bring your charge card.

FENN: She’s been to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming,


MCGARRITY: Another question please?

THIRTYACRE: I’ve got one. Who’s been closer, me or Dal?

MCGARRITY: Who’s been closer? Stephanie or Dal?

FENN: If I told you that, you’d faint.

THIRTYACRE: I’d leave right now!

MCGARRITY: Haven’t you said, though, that people have come within like 500 feet of the treasure?

FENN: People tell me where they are. They’re very precise in their descriptions of where they are and where they’ve been. And I can tell that some of them have been pretty close.

MCGARRITY: Another question? Senor?

MAN OFF CAMERA: Will a metal detector help?

MCGARRITY: Will a metal detector help?

FENN: A metal detector will help you if you’re in exactly the right spot.

MCGARRITY: Okay, that’s a lot of help. (points to audience) Yeah?

WOMAN OFF CAMERA: Did you say a minute ago that it’s not on the top of the mountain?

PRESTON: Did you say just a minute ago that it’s not on the top of a mountain?

FENN: I hope I didn’t say that. I’ll tell you that, uh, that it’s not on the top of any mountain. That’s a big clue because there’s lots of mountains out there. It may be close to the top.

PRESTON: Yes? David.

DAVID: Why do you think that people are telling you that they found the treasure? I don’t see the psychology of why the would do that.

FENN: I think they want their 15 minutes. I know for a fact that most of these guys that told me they found the the treasure chest, they’ve searched for it extensively and have not been able to find it. So rather than just give up, they just claim they found it.

PRESTON: Or they might think that you're going to say, “Well if, you know, if it isn’t in that cave five miles on New Mexico 23 then you didn’t find it.” I think they’re hoping you’re going to drop some clue.

MCGARRITY: I think you’re right. I think that’s part of the psychology of those kind of emails and phone calls is to try to see if they can cajole him.

FENN: If the person reads the poem over and over and are able to decipher the first few clues in the poem, they can find the treasure chest. It may not be easy, but it certainly isn’t impossible. I could go right straight to it. (laughter)

MCGARRITY: Amazing. The man has incredible powers.

FENN: You’re so easy.

WOMAN OFF CAMERA: Would you take a partner along?

PRESTON: Would you take a partner along? When you go to it?

FENN: Do you have an airplane?

WOMAN OFF CAMERA: I’ve got my Bushwacker.

FENN: I don’t know. Maybe.

PRESTON: I’m curious, is there anybody here who thinks that they are pretty close and really know where it is? Wow! That’s great! How come you haven’t gone to get it yet?

MAN OFF CAMERA: Because there hasn’t been a blend of mind and moment yet.

PRESTON: There hasn’t been a blend of mind and moment yet?

MAN OFF CAMERA: It wasn’t there.

PRESTON: It wasn’t there. Oh you’re the one! Oh he moved it! He saw you were coming and he moved it! Yes?

WOMAN OFF CAMERA: First of all, what’s your phone number? I’m just kidding.

PRESTON: She wanted to know your phone number, now she says she’s kidding.

WOMAN OFF CAMERA: And your credit card number.

OFF CAMERA: Okay, do we look at the poem more as a physical location or a metaphysical location?

PRESTON: Do we look at the poem more as a physical location, or metaphysical location?

FENN: What does metaphysical mean?

PRESTON: Must be a physical location.

FENN: Well when I wrote that poem, I wasn’t playing any games. It’s straightforward.

MCGARRITY: Any more questions?

WOMAN OFF CAMERA: I don’t have a question, I have a comment. Thank you, as many others, because we’ve had fun looking and it has been the thrill of the chase rather than the finding of anything.

PRESTON: She says thank you, on behalf of herself and many others it really has been the thrill of the chase.

FENN: Well thank you ma’am. The mountain man over there wants to say something.

DESERTPHILE: How do I get the bracelet back to you once I find the treasure chest?

FENN: Uh, UPS. (laughter).


MAN OFF CAMERA: I have a question about a photograph. I’m not sure if it’s in “Too Far To Walk” in the blog under happy birthday there’s a photo of you and your brother sitting in a pushcar and there’s a porch swing and a fence. Are you familiar with that photograph? No?

FENN: (shakes his head)

WOMAN OFF CAMERA: If it’s found within our lifetime, can we have a celebration?

PRESTON: If it’s found within our lifetime, can we have a celebration?

FENN: Sure. You can have a celebration even if it isn’t found.

MCGARRITY: Let’s take one more question. This gentleman here.

MAN OFF CAMERA: How many clues has someone cracked?

PRESTON: How many clues has someone cracked? That you know of?

FENN: I know they’ve cracked the first two, and went right past the treasure chest. Several people have done that.

PRESTON: Wow that is so tantalizing! That’s incredible.

MAN OFF CAMERA: Because of all this, I have read all of your books, and I got to tell you that the illustration idea, I think both of you ought to look into that. I think you ought to tell your publishers that you’re in charge. I think that would be good for the industry.

PRESTON: He thinks that the idea of illustrating our books for both of us is a great idea. We ought to go in there and tell our publishers that we’re in charge. We want to do that.

FENN: Okay good.

MCGARRITY: I want to see what Pendergast looks like.

FENN: When I was thinking about writing my children’s book, I asked Dal on his blog to ask cartoonists or illustrators to send samples of their illustrations and let’s publish them on the blog, and let me see what I have to work with. I was startled with the number of people that really have talent to illustrate.

WOMAN OFF CAMERA: And the other authors can do that. Ask people to contribute illustrations. That’ll be fun.

PRESTON: We can do that. We can ask people to contribute illustrations. And in fact, on my website, there are a lot of people who have done illustrations of Pendergast and other characters in my books that we post. Fans. We’ve got fan art that we post on our website, too. Some of them are pretty good! Really close as to what I see.

FENN: Illustrations can say so much so much more than words can say in some instances.

PRESTON: I think the fellow that illustrated your book, Dan Bodelson, is really talented. I really like those illustrations.

FENN: This is the only book that he’s illustrated. He didn’t think that he could do it. He’s a Fine Arts painter, and I said, “Well let’s give it a shot.” So he did. We argued about a few things, and I sent some back to him, but finally I told him, I said, “Show me the second drawing first.” And I got his attention, and he turned out to be a wonderful illustrator. I think he’s found a new calling.

MCGARRITY: Thank you all very much. It’s been a pleasure to be here with you tonight.