Harvard Business School, the Florida state legislature, and interdimensional insurance agents know him as Wendell T. Manatee: CFO of CorreiaTech. Crusaders against Puppy Related Sadness know him as the spokesmanatee for Sad Puppies. But this aquatic American largely remains an enigma to his legions of adoring fans and whiny detractors alike. The manatee himself recently sat down (actually, he floated inside his giant fish tank at CorreiaTech HQ and called me via Skype) to share some insights on his personal motivations.
BRIAN NIEMEIER: Thank you, Mr. Manatee, for taking time out from overseeing the Monster Hunter Nation server upgrades to address the public's insatiable appetite for all things Wendell.
WENDELL THE MANATEE: Mewoooooooooooo.
BN: Wow. Eloquent though they are, your printed quotes failed to prepare me for the heart-melting rapture of hearing you speak in person. I am utterly disarmed and profoundly stirred!
BN: Hilarious! Such a legendary wit would have been the toast of the Algonquin Round Table.
(Starts laugh-crying uncontrollably.)
BN: (Finally composing self) Sorry. Just needed a moment. I'm still here.
WM: Fleeeerp. Mehwoo?
BN: To talk about your background, your work with Larry Correia, and your involvement with Sad Puppies.
Not to step on your fluke, but fans might take exception to the term "dork fest".
BN: With your Harvard MBA and your membership in an endangered species, you were free to write your own ticket. Why manage the finances of a D-list author of explosion porn?
BN: So it's all because of Lance Henriksen. Fascinating.
BN: Careful. You know how prone people are to misreading those kinds of comments as threats, and Mr. Henriksen is formidable enough to make Alien 3 almost watchable.
Even as a child, Wendell was right at home in the public eye.
Back on topic, was there a specific pitch you made that convinced Larry to hire you?
BN: Yeah. You can only milk thinly veiled B movie and X-Men fanfic for so long. I tried the same thing with 90s anime and Dune, which barely pays for the movie tickets I need to stay out of the cold. (Indie author pro tip: if you buy one for the first showing, they'll let you stay till closing time. And you can hide in the crawlspace under the screen after that!)
Like I told that derelict who lives in the hobo camp in the woods by the interstate: "Punk, I an't trading no electric blanket for no bag of CVS disposable razors!"
Where was I? Oh yeah. Did you have a vision for breaking out of the niche market for war game nerds and gun nuts?
WM: Mewwwooooo. Moooooo-gurgle gurgle.
BN: Great point. Romance is huge. I'd hop on that gravy train faster than you can say E. L. James if only I understood the physical and emotional bonds that are so popular with humans.
BN: Aquatic mammals, too. Sorry. Why did Larry veto the shift from gun porn to regular porn? It can't be moral qualms. He's a libertarian.
BN: I suppose that finding the mandatory female pen name for him would be a daunting ordeal.
BN: Let me get this straight. You're saying that you came up with the idea to do Son of the Black Sword!?
WM: (Pauses to take a bite from what resembles a Primanti Brothers sandwich, except the coleslaw seems to be made from iceberg lettuce, waterlogged straw, and ranch dressing.)
Shark wrestling: one of Wendell's many hobbies.
BN: Congratulations. Still, you have to admit that Larry does all the toiling in the word mines.
Let's take a moment to talk about your personal history. You were born and raised in the ocean off the Florida coast. Manatees are renowned for their fierce determination, but yours took you in an unusual direction. You graduated from the Ivy League. where you earned a reputation as a--pardon the expression--party animal. Your exploits on the wrestling team have led some to call you a jock. You've also found time to cultivate world-class skills in Call of Duty.
BN: Yet you've had your share of setbacks: your narrow defeat in the race for your home state's legislature in 2012, losing Time's Person of the Year to the Ferguson protesters, your arrest for slapping a cosplayer, and most discouraging of all, being mistaken for Chris Matthews by a White House aide. Any one of these tragedies would have crushed a lesser man. To what do you owe your unconquerable tenacity?
WM: Mooorr-gurgle gurgle.
BN: (voice breaking) Your sage words have overcome me once again. If your detractors only had ears to hear, this divisive conflict in science fiction would end, and all fans would embrace as brothers. Have you spoken with George R. R. Martin?
WM: (Shakes his ponderous bulk in the negative) Moowhooooo.
BN: Yes, the resemblance to a whale shark is uncanny. It was clearly an honest mistake. I'm sure you can get the restraining order dismissed.
BN: You've become the public face of Sad Puppies. Why associate with that campaign?
BN: I had no idea! People who think of you as a stoic tough guy will be equally shocked and touched by this intimate revelation.
WM: Hoooooon. Gurgle. Gurgle.
BN: With that single remark, you've put paid to every accusation lodged by the puppy-kickers. I stand in awe of your rhetorical mastery!
WM: (Plunges his yawning jowls into a barrel of CHEETOS.)
BN: (Voice raised over sounds of crunching) Thank you, Wendell, for gracing us with this portrait of courage, ambition, and yes, vulnerability. Before we wrap things up, do you have any parting words for our contemplation and enrichment?
WM: (Munching continues unabated until the connection times out.)
Interviewer's note: a link to this video later arrived in my inbox.
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