Jed McPherson talks Cuddles! A Last Chance Crime Story

Jed McPherson show notes.

Today, Melissa chatted with comic book writer, Jed McPherson, about his latest Kickstarter campaign for his new crime fiction book, Cuddles.

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Jed McPherson – Interview

[00:00:00] Melissa: Welcome back to some other country. I’m Melissa surgeon. And today on the show, I get to chat with a comic book writer here to talk about his latest Kickstarter campaign cuddles, Jed MacPherson. Welcome to the show. Hi, thanks for having me. Yeah. How are you doing

Jef McPherson: today? I’m good. Thanks. Yeah, I’m a little bit tired just because of the time on our end, but powering crew.

Melissa: Okay. Are you in the UK?

Jef McPherson: Yeah.

Melissa: UK-based oh, interesting. I didn’t know that. Sorry about the pregnancy must be

Jef McPherson: dying. Yeah. It’s all right.

Melissa: You’re like what? Eight hours ahead.

Jef McPherson: I think so. Yeah. It’s 11 o’clock here, so it’s about half an hour past my usual bedtime.

Melissa: Oh, wow. All right. Well, we won’t hold it against you if you’re delirious.

Well, again, I appreciate you coming on. You know, first off I have to ask, you know, about, about the title. It really It drew me in, you know, it’s, it’s [00:01:00] called cuddles, which you know, is not the title. In fact, I guess, right. From a, like a crime fiction series. So how did you come up with that name?

What is the significance?

Jef McPherson: Yeah. So the the book’s actually named after the main character who’s this use like like breaker for re like a local crime Lord. And he’s, he’s called cuddles. It’s sort of like an ironic name considering that he’s not actually the most cuddly person you’ll ever meet.

Melissa: Right. That’s great. I love that. Just like the dichotomy of that, right? Like it’s like not where people are expecting, you know, you hear all these when you watch like mafia, movies and crime stuff, they always have these really intimidating names. And I kinda liked that though. It’s like ironic, right?

Jef McPherson: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. That was sort of the vibe we were going for.

Melissa: Nice. Okay. Well, in your own words, you know, tell our listeners, what’s the story

Jef McPherson: about, yeah. So co cuddles is about this, this guy called cuddles, who, like I mentioned earlier is. W he sort of like a, like BRCA for a, [00:02:00] for a local mob a local like crime family.

And he finds out that his partner has been stealing money for they’ve been collecting and That is complicated slightly by the fact that he’s his partner is actually his boss’s son. So he’s sort of caught between loyalty to his partner, loyalty to his boss and training basically stay alive. And it’s sort of, I guess, more complicated from there.

Melissa: That’s that sounds really like the stakes are very high.

Jef McPherson: Yes, definitely. Yeah. Yeah. You kind of have to have to for for crime stories is you want to make it as, as personal for the main characters for possible, like have them as much a stake in the game as possible.

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. Now I know a lot of crime stories, crime comics tend to be, you know, multiple issues or.

Like weekly cereals. Are you planning to go pass this one book or is this a, like a one and done. So

Jef McPherson: like it is a one and done like it has a, you know, like, Very like it has an end point, you know, [00:03:00] if we never got to make more more stories based in this world, you still have like a full, full, complete narrative here.

But we are we have sort of left it open to like come back and like explore other characters in this world. You know, kind of like using it as a sort of shared crime universe. So, yeah, like we actually in the, in the book, there is also like a pros backup, which has like picks up some of the characters from the main story, but like from a different point of view.

So we’ve like, Left it open so that we can do more stories. But if you only want to check this one out, you can, and it will get a full, complete, like story.

Melissa: Wait, arch. Yeah, let’s go to note too, but that’s cool that you have opportunities to do spinoffs and stories like about the, you know, maybe side characters and like really expand on that world.

Jef McPherson: Yeah. Yeah. I thought that sort of, that, that was always the, we went with like the, the full title of the book is cuddles the last chance crime story, and last chance crime is going to be [00:04:00] like the sort of brand name that we’re going to call coal, coal, light, all these stories around. Oh,

Melissa: cool. Okay. Now, do you read a lot of crime fiction?

Like have you, have you always wanted to write a story like this? Like what inspired you.

Jef McPherson: Yeah. I, I am actually a big crime, a crime fiction fan. I, I really liked like the start of the like Elmo lighted style novels. Jim, Thompson’s a big influence. Charles will thought that sort of like.

Crime stories that are about criminals tends to be where my my interest lies in that. Yeah, you gel won’t let it. I found a love. I don’t know if you ever watched Justin.

Melissa: Yeah, I have not completely, but I have, I’ve seen episodes. Yeah. Yeah.

Jef McPherson: Yeah. Like, I’m a big fan of justified as well. And obviously, you know, there’s a bunch of really, really excellent crime films and crime TV shows and stuff like that.

So I do tend to I like stories about bad guys.

Melissa: Yeah. There’s a huge audience for that. So yeah. So your Kickstarter campaign, [00:05:00] it ends Sunday, right? It ends on Sunday. You’ve already met

Jef McPherson: your goal. We did have, we, we, we met the goal in 12 hours, which was one wonders for my anxiety.

Melissa: Yeah, that’s awesome.

So what are, what are some of the rewards that, that your backers are getting?

Jef McPherson: Yeah, I mean, I, I, I’m, I’m a big believer of keeping things as simple as possible. So I think we’ve only got four. Yeah, we’ve got far a walk tears. So the first one is, is a digital copy of the book. You can get that for free free pounds.

I’m not sure what that works out in dollars. Should have possibly I think it might be about $6 a week like that. Then you’ve got the book itself which is six pounds. That’s for like a physical copy of the book. And that comes with the digital copy as well. And then we’ve got a tier where you can get the book and the print.

So we’ve got like fall pinups that we’re doing is sort of like comic sized prints. One by Christian. He’s the artist on the Automall for the vault? Just an absolute [00:06:00] fantastic artists. We’ve got the cover itself so you can get a print of the cover. We have a pin-up by the colorist of the book.

Champagney and they’re also like a fantastic illustrator as well as just like one of the best colorists in comics. So, so, but we were looking enough to get them to do a, a print for us. And we’ve also got one by Emily Pearson. She’s the artist on The wilds with VTA Ella and snap flush co-sell with bat mask, and she’s doing a book called the vein with only press.

So we we’ve got some really cool prints. And the final one is you get all fall prints. So the first one you get to pick one. But if you want to spend a little bit more, you can get all footprints.

Melissa: That’s great. Yeah, the printer gorgeous. I mean, you’ve got some fantastic. You know, artists with a great, like assortment of, of different creative types, you know, essentially.

And what was it like working with those, with those different artists?

Jef McPherson: Yeah, well, I, I, I specifically chose artists that I’d worked with before. So I [00:07:00] did a book with Chris called called deadbeat which came out a while ago. So I knew sort of what, what he was going to do with I did a short story with Emily a while ago and obviously Shannon worked on the on the, the On the book itself.

I really took like a hands-off role as far as like commissioning the prints. I was like, here’s the, you know, Hey, here’s the comment. Hey, here’s when I need them by you can do whatever you want. So it was really interesting seeing like each of the different artists take a different approach to the characters, having a different, like, idea of it.

So, yeah, that was great. I like it. It’s one of my favorite, like getting different. Versions of characters, but if an artist it’s really fun. Yeah.

Melissa: That’s cool to see like all the different interpretations of what people yeah. Perceiving the story, as, you know, as you get into the story. Is it D would you say it’s like a darker themed as far as like, is it super violent?

Is it more campy? Like what would you describe it as.

Jef McPherson: I mean, it’s definitely not campy. We, we play it [00:08:00] reasonably straight. As far as like the, the tone I, I do think like we, we have tried to, like, some of the dialogue is, is amusing. You know, it’s not like, you know, it’s not misery all the way through.

I think it’s not super violent. Like I, I don’t think there’s anything in it that there’s a, there’s a lot of swearing that might be like, you don’t have to show its kids, but I don’t think there’s anything like. In terms of the actual like, content that you’d be like, oh, okay. That’s not suitable for you know, I guess like if you’re going to put an age on it, you’d probably be like sort of 15

Melissa: 15 and a super offensive or disturbing.

Yeah.

Jef McPherson: So fan of you know, like, like when, when violence goes a little bit over the top, I prefer it when it’s, you know?

Yeah, yeah.

Melissa: For sure. Well, yeah, I, when it’s tastefully, Don, rather than my gratuitous, it’s always better either. And you have to always, I guess, ask yourself, does this move the story forward?

[00:09:00] Jef McPherson: Yeah, definitely. I mean, like one of the, one of the things that we did was there’s a, there’s a scene towards like the, the, the middle of the book where I, I had I.

Well, the type of fight scene. But I also had to have like a conversation between these two characters and I was really struggling to fit in, in the page count. So we well, what we did was we combine the two, so the two characters are having the conversation inside a diner and you can see the fight through the window on the other side.

So that’s sort of like the approach we took to it was like every scene has to advanced support. We’re not trying to do anything that’s you’d know. Is this only 32 pages long. So you really have to, there’s a premium on, on

Melissa: on, oh, you have to like condense it down and kind of like kill your darlings, right?

Yeah,

Jef McPherson: definitely. So yeah, like we, we have to make sure that everything but I was trying like the. Like free things with the scene. So it would be advanced the plot shell character and have something called happening. And you don’t always get all free, but you should at least try and have [00:10:00] two of them in each scene.

Melissa: Yeah, that’s smart. That’s a really good formula to follow. So that way you don’t get off track.

Jef McPherson: Yeah. And I think like definitely writers have a tendency to be a little bit self-indulgent and it’s good to have like, yeah, it’s good to have like a a reason to not like check yourself.

Melissa: Yeah. Or like go off on a tangent and completely get off.

Like the whole storyline altogether.

Jef McPherson: Yeah, definitely. I know when you, like I said, when you’ve only got 32 pages, you, you really have to keep the, the more like self-indulgent pop in, in, in

Melissa: check. Yeah. Did you, you sort of organized it. Kind of like a prose novel, correct? Like isn’t it kind of divided up into chapters?

Jef McPherson: Yeah. Yeah. So like every like every scene has like a, a chapter title which is just something that I do because I like that as a reader, I like stopping points. Cause I’m like, I I’m really busy. So if I can, like, [00:11:00] yeah, like if I can read like two pages of something and put it down and come back late at one side, it’s like, you know, in, in between, you know, whatever it is I’m doing, that really helps me.

So. That’s sort of why I did that. Like, it’s how I, I like reading things. You know, I read a lot before I go to sleep as well, you know, just to sort of settle your mind down and take a break from screens. So it’s, it’s good to be like, oh, I’m falling asleep now. I want to have a point where I can class it.

Yeah, but I also think it helps. Yeah, no. I also think it helps with like pacing and stuff like that is if you got a reminders of when you’ve changed scenes and you’re like, oh, okay, cool. Why this is I F I I’ve made this seem like five pages that might be too long. I’ll I’ll cook all and condense it and make it a tighter scene as well.

So, yeah, it’s a reminder to myself to keep it short and to the point,

Melissa: add more tension that way. And then you can utilize like the whole concept of, you know, cliff hangers, you know, in, in regular [00:12:00] novels when. Each chapter usually ends on some sort of cliffhanger, minor or major, you know, just to get the person to turn the page, essentially.

But like you were saying too, it’s, it’s a nice stopping point where you, if you need to put the book down to go do something else cause that’s, I find that a lot with comics, like you were saying, you know, you’re there just kind of straight through most of them. And so when you do have to stop for a second, I kind of lose like what panel I was on and I have to go back and reread a couple of pages.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. So how is, you know, I know you’ve written a few other things before this and how, how has this like different than anything else you’ve ever worked on?

Jef McPherson: Yeah, so I think more than anything else Well, I think it’s the, the best thing that I, I, I don’t just speak. So I think I’m a more experienced, right?

Why I would hope I’m more experienced, you know, you take every booking, ideally you’re getting better, but it’s, it’s one of the ones [00:13:00] sort of this and deadbeat are the two books that I’ve done that I’ve known. Who’s drawing it first before like actually finding the artists. So a lot of the time, a lot of the time just speaks of like production schedules.

Like you write the book and then, well, I really I’ve, I’ve written the book found somebody like who I, you know, you’re trying to find someone who was suits the book, whereas this one it’s civil around. Like I knew I wanted to work with Marco and Chan again, cause we worked previously on a book called transmissions.

So I know I already worked with them. I already had a really good idea of how, what they’re good at, what, what what their strengths are and, and how to like how they like scripts to be you know, laid out and stuff like that. So this was really me. Writing for them, rather than writing something and finding an artist afterwards.

So yeah. Was a all bespoke, specifically designed for this [00:14:00] team? I, I, I think if they had said no that they didn’t like it I would have. Probably check out the book and it would have never of got drawn and it’s not something that I would have been like, oh, I’m going to like find somebody else. It had to be those two.

Melissa: Oh, interesting. That’s cool. I’m sure that’s a big compliment to them as well.

Jef McPherson: Like, and anyone who’s like had to look at the book, always the first thing they say is it’s, it looks absolutely gorgeous. And I can say that because I didn’t have like a hand in actually like laying out the pages and drawing them in coloring them.

So yeah. Absolutely killed it like that. They’re just so lucky that they they still continued to work with

Melissa: me. Right. Well, it sounds like you guys have a great relationship, you know, to begin with, because that’s so important, you know, if you have that chemistry.

Jef McPherson: Yeah. I like to think so, you know, you get like, Like some teams that, you know, just gel together.

It’s like, you know, you’ve got Karen Gillan and Jamie McKelly whenever they make a [00:15:00] book, it’s absolutely fantastic. Brewbaker and Phillips, you know, you get these partnerships and hopefully that’s what we’d go with like Marco and Shannon and myself. Like, I would like to keep making comics with them pretty much ever for as long as they’ll have me until then.

Yeah.

Melissa: Yeah. If you have a good thing down to don’t change it, or what is it? Don’t die. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You also did the, each of the lettering yourself, right? I

Jef McPherson: did. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, that was a lot of fun, like matching that to that, to that style. I think I, I leveled up in that as well on this book, like it’s like learned a few tricks going into it which was really good.

It also like lattering your own work is really good for like doing rewrites on the fly. So like once you get the Outback, you flat rate one way and then you look at, oh, that line doesn’t a hundred percent work. I’m going to fix it. Whereas like, if you, if you working with like a lecturer You, you could do annoying them every time you ask them to change [00:16:00] something.

Melissa: You’re like, Hey, it’s me again.

Jef McPherson: Hey, I know you don’t get paid for doing revisions, but here’s like a long list of them. Yeah.

Melissa: Right. Yeah. That’s well, that’s cool. And then you’ve learned. So much more about your own writing? I’m sure too.

Jef McPherson: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, everyone should do a lattering packs, but you know, like rework the script once the art comes in I don’t do that when I’m lecturing my own stuff, because I can just do it on the page.

But yeah, I definitely like it. It makes you look at the out a lot more when you’re actually doing that. So,

Melissa: yeah. And as far as your writing process goes, are you, are you outlining a lot beforehand? Are you building the world first or the character first? Like how does that process go for you?

Jef McPherson: I, it changes from book to book.

So for, for cuddles, it was, it was one of those rare books that. Like just came naturally. Like I didn’t have to fall at all. I don’t think I did any outlining for it all. I just started [00:17:00] with like the first scene and the, and the characters and everything sort of came from that. Yeah, like I don’t, I do outline like, Longer ish.

Like if you’re doing like a series or something like that, cause you got to get your beats right at night, you know, you’ve got to have your head cliffhangers hit every like 24 page 20 to 24 pages. But, but we’ve cuddles it. It was much more organic than that. And I think it really shows in the, in the like pacing of the book.

You know, it doesn’t feel rushed. It doesn’t feel like you’re getting towards the end of an issue and you’ve got to get it finished because we took a little bit longer than it standard issue. What if of stuff? So, yeah it depends on, on the book to book.

Melissa: Nice. Yeah. All that makes sense. Every, you have to approach every book differently because the story is different and you know, how it

Jef McPherson: unfolds.

Yeah. And, and also like pharma massively changes, like what you’re doing. Like if you’re doing like a graphic novel or a, you know, a, a mini-series, you’ve got to approach that in different ways. Cause [00:18:00] you can Lange length and chapters in a graphic novel or shot in them. And in a miniseries you’ve got to hit the 20 page beats and stuff like that.

So. Yeah. I think every book you’re learning to write that book and then when you’re finished like that, there might be some skills that you take with you, but there’s other ones that just specifically for that book.

Melissa: Yeah. That makes sense. Now, once the campaign is over on Sunday, how can readers get a copy of cuddles?

Yeah. So,

Jef McPherson: Like as soon as the campaign is done I’m going to put it on my Gumroad store so people can pre-order that That the link will be on my on my Twitter. Do you just click and follow it through to there? I mean, I’ll update my pin tweet is fine. I think also like kickstart I’ll let you, if people go to the Kickstarter page, they let you put a link to any star.

So you can just click on that and you’ll be able to find a pre-order link barriers. Awesome. And

Melissa: then what’s the release date for that one?

Jef McPherson: Depends [00:19:00] on how well, so basically what I’m going to do is I’m going to fulfill the kickstart. So it depends on how quickly we get it printed and shipped and justify that.

And then it would probably be like two weeks after that. I’ll I’ll stop. She like stop. Selling the it fruit gum Gumroad.

Melissa: Okay. So it’ll just be through your store. Are you doing like anything through Comixology or Amazon? Yeah, I’ll

Jef McPherson: I’ll, I’ll put it on Comixology. So Matt once, once that’s all done That takes a little while to go through just because you’ve got to wait for that and have to do all the they’ve got to check to make sure everything’s up to, up to snuff.

So, and they don’t tell you when it’s going to come on, it’s always a bit of a surprise. You just get like an email and be like, oh, it’s live now. So you can’t really do any pre-promotion

Melissa: great. Thanks.

Jef McPherson: I used to be like, oh, it’s going to go live on this day. Are you even better? You can pick a day, but yeah.

I would guess it would be sort of like free moms after the, the kickstart [00:20:00] wraps. It will be on there eventually.

Melissa: Okay, cool. And, you know, you were mentioning that you have the pros story in the back of the book. Do you have any desire to write a full length novel for your, you know, at any point?

Jef McPherson: I’m not sure. Like I enjoy writing prose But like I’m. Lucky such a huge undertaking throughout like a full prose novel. And it takes me a lot longer to write pros because I’m not as experienced as a prose writer as I am a comics writer. So yeah, I think it’s. Maybe a lake and that might be my retirement is once I’ve w once I finished it in comics, I’ll, I’ll work on work on a novel, but yeah, it’s such an intimidating undertaking to do,

Melissa: right?

Yeah. It’s a lot of work. Yeah.

Jef McPherson: Yeah,

Melissa: definitely. But yeah. Yeah. It was something to work on. I think probably when. Yeah. You have less time when you’re not like [00:21:00] trying to just, you know, basically put out all of these great comic book series too.

Jef McPherson: Yeah. I it’s, it’s, you know, I really enjoy doing the the pro story and if, and when we, we do more last chance crime stories, that’s definitely going to be something that I want to do going forward is have like various different backups in each book.

So, I think the next one we’re going to have like a. A pro story and a comic backup. So it’ll be two comics and one pro story. But they’re always going to have at least like something pros in there.

Melissa: Okay. Awesome. Well, you know, before, before I let you go, I know, I know it’s late. What are, what are some is there anything else you’re working on?

Like another Kickstarter that we can expect after this one’s over or anything you have in the works that you’d like to share?

Jef McPherson: Yeah. We, we, I’m actually working on the next, last chance crime story at the moment. So that, that, that’s something that, that will be in the pipeline depending on Marco and Chan’s schedule.

So yeah, [00:22:00] keep an eye out for that. Like, definitely if you, if people you know, follow me on Twitter, I’ll be tweeting out you know, the in-process stuff. Yeah, it just depends on how quickly we can get it done. Obviously we’ve got, gotta wait for the funds to hit before that goes back into making the next one.

But yeah, that will be coming hopefully this year.

Melissa: Cool. Well, that’s exciting. Well, congratulations on all your success with this campaign. I mean, 12 hours to get fully backed is pretty cool. Yeah,

Jef McPherson: I, it was a bit of a, a bit of a shock. I mean, obviously it. Do you know, the original goal was just to cover like print costs.

So anything above, and that will be going back into the, you know, to recoup the Patriots because I paid, made sure I paid Marco and Shannon from, you know, I don’t believe in artists working on backend just so much work on their end. So. Yeah, we, we, the more money that we raised, the quicker you know, the quicker we can do more calming.

Melissa: Yeah. Get them into the hands of [00:23:00] readers. Yeah. Nice. Well, for anyone listening you can follow Jed on Twitter at. Jed MacPherson. And we can also put that in the show notes in case somebody wants to click on it. And then I’m not sure when this is going to air. If we can get it out before Sunday, you’ll, you’ll have to go to Kickstarter to just, you know, to back the project cuddles.

If it comes out after you know, follow them on Twitter and you have a newsletter too, don’t you.

Jef McPherson: I do. Yeah. If you go to my website, Jen mcpherson.com, that is a sign of that. I am super, not great at like a, supposed to be monthly. It is not monthly at all. Yeah, I, I think the. I sent one out prior to the kickstart going live.

But before that, I think the last one I sent out was was March last year 2020. So I had a long time off doing them. I am like. Promising myself. I’m going to be bad with them this year, but yeah.

Melissa: Perfect. Well, I’m sure you’ll send something. Once the wince [00:24:00] cuddles is up for pre-orders, so people can go to your website yeah.

And follow your newsletter or follow you on Twitter because I’m sure you’re probably on Twitter more than anything.

Jef McPherson: Yeah. Yes. Yeah. That’s my that’s my social media of choice. I’m not the best at social media. I’m not like one of these people that always has like a hot take on everything, but I, I tend to like, Write things out and then delete them a lot.

Melissa: Oh yeah. I know that. Yeah. That’s common. Right? I started doubting it and you’re like, this is going to be going to want to read this there. Or did I say something that I stood in or yeah. You know, it’s just, it’s kind of funny or how we, how we do that. Cause I listened to people say that all the time.

They’re like, oh, I start to type and then I delete it. Yeah.

Jef McPherson: It’s one of those. One of the massive problems. I would, would it be possible if I can shout out, like if you have a Kickstarter? So I think that in really people checking out. So, the first one is sad because of the shield maiden which is by my friend SOE eight at [00:25:00] weekly.

It’s a sort of, he describes it as a Western A Western biking story. So it’s sort of like the man with no name, but staring at shields made and I’ve read the first volume in it’s. It’s excellent. He’s just kickstarting in the second one. The is also a game of doubles, which if you like cuddles this is another crime, I’m sorry, about two tennis players who are twins.

And it’s got a really cool, like, storytelling aspect to it where they’re doing it as like. He’s got multiple endings. So depending on which version you get, you get like each one’s got a different ending to it. And then there’s the disco nights which is sort of okay. Yeah. It’s like a comedy about like a team of trying traveling Like guys from the seventies, which is really like, it’s really fun.

Definitely worth checking out. All three of those are currently live at the moment. I think they’ve got like 20 days at least to go all the definitely worth

Melissa: checking out. Nice. Yeah. And send them our way too, if they, if they want to come on the show and talk about it. Yeah.

Jef McPherson: I’ll, I’ll let them know.

Oh, shoot them an email after this.

[00:26:00] Melissa: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it. I’ll I’ll let you get off to bed now and we’ll love to have you on again in the future. And we can arrange them in an earlier time. Next time. No problem chatting with you. I’m excited to check out your, your book and see, you know, what you, what you’ve got coming for the future.

Yeah,

Jef McPherson: thanks. I’ll, I’ll let you know when the next Kickstarter is is life yeah.

Melissa: Perfect. And then we can jump on it earlier and get John right in the beginning. Yeah. Yeah.

Jef McPherson: I’ll send out the messages a little bit earlier this time, but yeah, no. Great, great. Really nice talking to

Melissa: you. Awesome. Yes.

Nice to meet you. Have a wonderful evening.

Jef McPherson: Yeah. Thank you. You too. And make sure you like tag me in whatever like social media posts you do that. I don’t know. I’ll retweet them for an update on the Kickstarter campaign to hopefully send people your way as well.

Melissa: Awesome. I will do that. Definitely.

Yeah. And I’ll go on there and follow you as well. Okay. Thank you very much. Perfect, RA. Thanks Jed. Talk to you soon. [00:27:00] All right. Bye bye.

 

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