'Fargo' author finds success with stories
Marc de Celle's new book, "How Fargo of You," is one of the hottest-selling books in the area right now.
Not bad for something he started writing less than a year ago and worked on until he sent it to the printer in early November.
He will read from the book and sign copies at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead.
The author's book is a collection of essays and observations gathered since he moved to Fargo five years ago from Phoenix.
He and his wife moved here looking for a better quality of life - particularly for their 15-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son - than they saw in Arizona.
The book's title has become de Celle's response to various acts of kindness, from a handyman installing a doggy door for free as a housewarming gift to the level of trust he sees in business dealings.
It's written more for nonlocals who may scoff at Fargo than for those who live here, as implied in the book's subtitle: "Stories from the Northern Prairie that People Who Haven't Been Here will Never Believe."
The main title has become de Celle's response to various acts of kindness.
"There's almost a game in this culture to overwhelm the other person in kindness," de Celle says. "It's like one-upsmanship. It's a great game to have."
The 267-page book is filled with anecdotes of generosity and goodwill he has witnessed in the F-M area, in particular how the community pulled together during the 2009 flood.
"You could look at this as my own 'Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul' for around here," de Celle says.
The 55-year-old author is basking in the area's benevolence once again with his book flying off local shelves.
"It's been our biggest seller of the season," says Greg Danz of Zandbroz Variety in downtown Fargo.
Danz started selling the $12 book at de Celle's Nov. 20 in-store book signing and has sold more than 300 since.
By comparison, Danz says, during the past two holiday seasons, the hot books were the photo essay collection "Beautiful Women of North Dakota" and nonfiction musings by Minnesota author Bill Holm, but those only sold around 100 copies each.
Sue Rusch, owner of Stabo Scandinavian Imports in the West Acres Shopping Center, says the book is a hot commodity there, too.
A sales associate at Fargo's Barnes & Noble Booksellers described it as "very popular" and said as of last Thursday they didn't have any copies on the shelves but were keeping a list of people who have asked for it and filling orders as shipments arrived.
Late last week, Scheels also signed on to carry the book.
The author self-published the initial run of 5,000 copies for about $8,500 and says he'll turn a profit before Christmas. More than half are already sold or in circulation.
A second-edition run will follow, which should clean up some typos, he says.
"By the third edition, my hope is that this is really ready to go out into the world, beyond our region," de Celle says.
He hopes to have that version, with added content, out by the end of August, the same time he hopes to release the book's sequel - "How Fargo of You ... Too?" - stories submitted by readers. "Right now, I'm just trying to ride this runaway train," de Celle says.