Chuck Palahniuk

October 3, 2013

I'm Chuck Palahniuk, author of DOOMED... AMA!

I've been to Hell and I'm back. My new book, Doomed, features a series of electronic dispatches from the Great Beyond and now I'm here to answer your questions from Purgatory, I mean... Earth.


Check out DOOMED and to join me on my "Adult Bedtime Stories" tour (it kicks off on Monday) here:

EDIT: Here, thank you, is the 'out' I need. It's nine o'clock, and I've been keyboarding for 3.5 hours. Writer Union rules require that I stop and drink some alcohol. Thank you, everyone including the masturbator, for hanging out. Tomorrow, Oct. 4th, I'll be doing a Spreecast with Chelsea Cain at 6:PM PST. We'll follow that with a Facebook Q & A at 7:PM. Please know, my heart also hurts. My heart. But booze and pills are calling. Good night. Sleep well, my beloveds.

Hi, Chuck! I've wanted to get close to speaking to you for so long. My name's Akira. You've been a pretty big inspiration to myself and my writing for a long while. I'm a young adult and I'm working on a dystopian novel. I notice in your books your characters are amazingly raw. It seems like all of their being is just spread out on the table. What makes your characters remarkable is that they put out what everyday people keep to themselves. Speak the weird thoughts that people think daily but wouldn't tell a soul. Do things everyone wants to do but wouldn't dare to. I feel like you're like them in a sense. your writings are provocative, putting all the cards blatantly on the table and writing things other authors would be uneasy to publish. That essence that's in your characters and your style is a big push for me. I'm truly thankful that I discovered you. But let's cut to the chase - Some questions, if you will. Do you have to think about what you are writing and write draft on draft, or do you let your fingers and pen flow and let your mind do as it wishes with the story? Do you dream some characters? And when you're writing their story, do they stick around in your head and guide you along their thoughts and history like they have a mind of their own? And finally, is there any out-of-norm advice you have for someone as young as I trying to get the thoughts of my novel onto paper and make it real? Thank you for taking the time to read this. I'm so happy for this AMA! Some extra little tidbits I want to add: I'm planning on being Daisy St. Patience/Bubba Joan/Shannon McFarland for Hallowe'en. Soon to work on my jawless facial prosthetic. I also visited a memorial garden today with open buildings of memorial walls. I couldn't help but think of Tender Branson on a ladder stealing flowers.

Such a big question. It's like a whole family of questions. I'll tackle the easy part that I've already figured out -- I write about something that appeals to me, but that I don't really understand why it attracts me. The writing becomes a trick. I fool myself into exploring an aspect of myself that I can't be fully conscious of. Make sense. It's only months or years later that I realize the horrible, personal issues I actually put on the page. It's therapy, but fun. And it always seems to follow its own path, plot-wise. The moment I try to control the story it's ruined. Hope that helps. And I do write dozens (hundreds) of drafts, but they all go to recycling when the final version is done. Leave no tracks. Thank you, muchly, Akira

What is your opinion on the Federal Reserve's decision to continue quantitative easing at $85b per month?

Sigh. I remember when I thought bonds would rescue us.


My question: If you could meet any of your own characters, who would it be and why? What would you plan to do for the day?

My Comment: The first book I ever bought was Diary. I hunted a woman down in a parking lot and asked her what she was reading. I noticed her giggling and reading so intently in the store, I just had to know. I wanted to be interested in a book like that. You did it for me. You opened the curtains to the world of reading for me. Thank you for being an amazing writer and answering our questions!

Any character? Hands down, it would be Pygmy. I'm always haunted by the idea of a character from a country and background that no one would understand. Some kid from a blood-soaked home town, now having to live among bland office people talking about American Idol. Pygmy and I, we'd spend our day creating some huge surprise for a total stranger. Just random acts of scary-big nice. Define that as you wish.

Hey Chuck

What do you use as a bookmark?

Old airplane boarding passes. It's heartbreaking to open an old book and find the residue of past book tours or magazine assignments. And that impulse -- to press souvenirs in books, like flowers -- was a big aspect of 'Doomed.' I'm charmed whenever I discover something another reader has flattened between pages. Something you could never do with an Ebook. So that, those souvenirs, became an important element of 'Doomed.'

Which one of your books aside from Fight Club and Choke do you think would have the smoothest transition to film?

Easy one. 'Lullaby' It's a linear quest story with lots of room for the characters to unpack their backstories.

I'm probably one of your biggest fans, Choke has been a life changer and I'm addicted to your books I have two questions:
1. Would you ever come to Mexico?
1. Is Victor Mancini really addicted to sex or is he (as i've been thinking lately) addicted to the attention?

Sure, I'd come to Mexico. Why not?

And Victor is addicted to getting intimacy and affection -- the people who save him -- without having to reciprocate. He's a pig, but a damaged pig. And he's so conflicted about his mother. Gosh I'm glad this is fiction and not memoir or autobiography. It is fiction. Don't start thinking I'm a selfish pig. (oink)


What does that mean? IDDQD ?

You've stumped the panel.

Love your work, thanks for doing an AMA. Was there a definitive moment in your youth that made you realize you wanted to be a writer?

What is your biggest source of inspiration when planning a new novel?

To begin a new novel, I look for the biggest problem in my life that I can't solve or tolerate. Something that drives me nuts, but I can't fix. Then I find a metaphor that allows me to explore the problem, exaggerating and expanding it beyond reason. I build it up to the worst scenario possible and then find a way to solve it. By the time the book is done, I've exhausted all of my emotions around the original problem. Whatever it was, it no longer bothers me. And typically, during the time of writing, the problem has resolved itself. It's like magic. Try it. It will keep you alive in this world of bullshit.

Hi Mr. Palahniuk! Thanks so much for joining us on Reddit tonight. It's a pleasure having you.

So my question is quite random, so please bear with me. I had a high school English teacher named Mal Ellenburg. He raved about you and claimed you both were friends, and also had some pretty good memories together. Is this true? From what he used to tell us, you're quite amazing!

Help me out here. Understand that I take Ambien by the truckload and often don't recognize myself in mirrors. How did I know Mal? That's a name I ought to remember. No offense. My mind is like a steel sieve.

My daughter had to write a letter to her favorite author in high school, so she wrote to you. You not only responded, but you sent her a package! Filled with so many strange and/or wonderful items, including a rosary bead type necklace with her name in beads. You are AWESOME. (And the teacher went apeshit) Thank you.

You're welcome. And the package probably says more about how brilliant your daughter's letter was than how decent I am. And isn't it fun to exceeeeeeed people's expectations? I love that.

Hi there Mr. Palahniuk,

2 questions:

  1. You have an incredibly diverse cast of characters in all of your novels...which character was the hardest for you to write, ever?

  2. What, for you, is the most important part of the process that gets an idea that you come up with from the idea stage to the novel stage?

I'm a HUGE fan of all of your novels! Invisible Monsters remains one of my all-time favorite books and I can't wait for Doomed!

The hardest character? In 'Pygmy' I hated washing the rat down the garbage disposal. ( just lost a thousand would-be readers with that one ) And I hated killing the pug with rabies in 'Rant.' Pugs are the best. In reality I'd allow a rabid pug to eat me before I'd lift a finger to harm it.

The factor that forces me to write out an idea? Fear. Once I realize that the idea's grown too big to retain in my mind, and I begin to forget crucial parts of it. Then, I'm forced to sit and collect them on paper. It's the same reason I eat all my food in the final hour before its expiration date. I hate waste. I hate loss.

What was the most difficult book you've written?

I wrote a memorial album and history about my father's life and death and had it published privately, just for family members. It was torture. But that's a hallmark of the important tasks: they suck to do, but you're happy you've done them.

What difficulties did you run into when it comes to writing in the graphic novel format?

You're talking to a babe in the woods. My thanks to Chelsea Cain and Matt Fraction for walking me through the process. And a special shout-out to David Mack -- Congratulations on hitting #1 with your last launch. I forgot to write and applaud you at the time because I'm a jealous dick.

David Mack is a beast of storyteller and artist, I'd be jealous too. Then again you have an amazing writing style, a ton of fame, and hopefully a bunker filled with cash and whiskey.

And his skin!! Have you really looked at his skin? It's too perfect to be real.

Hi Chuck, I've had the honor of meeting you a few times and your advice has always been invaluable. My question is, with all of your popularity and literary fame, do you find yourself hesitant to make new friends? Are your current relationships, the ones you've maintained with fellow writers, sufficient? If they're not I'm available to fill the void.

Good question. You also overlook (bless you) that fact that I'm older and less likely to stagger out of the house in my sodden diaper. Yes, my writer friends of 20+ years are good company, but they won't live forever. I'll let you know when there's a vacancy in the Inner Circle.

I don't have a question. Just wanted to say Hi and thank you for being awesome.

Hi back. Stay awesome.

Hey Chuck, Portlander here.

Found a jar with your tonsils. How much you want for it?

Put it on Ebay. Better yet, take it to the Antiques Road Show.

Ay Chuck! You are great mayne. Just one question, do you listen to music when you write? If so, who?

Music? I used to. When writing pure-ish Minimalist stuff -- which uses aspects of songs: repetitions, choruses, refrains -- I'd listen to one song on endless repeat. Plus the punk esthetic shaped my work: Start loud, run short, end abruptly. Now I'm branching into a wordy modernist style, using fancy-pants words and longer constructions I never could in Tom Spanbauer's workshop. A richer language means I need to really concentrate, so no more music.

What do you think of the rise of self-published authors via Amazon? Wouldn't you make a lot more money if you self-published? What do you need a publishing house for other than physical distribution?

Oh, and would you review my novel, heh. People say it reminds them of your books.

Tough question. If I were your dog and you died, I'd go and lie down on your grave until I starved to death. I feel an intense loyalty to the old-school trappings of publishing -- my agent, my editor, booksellers. They've become close friends, and to bale on them for a bigger income seems bloodless. The same goes for my writing workshop. I can't contemplate life without Lidia Yuknavitch, Monica Drake and Chelsea Cain.

I'm a huge fan, especially of Haunted. I love your sick sense of humor.

What's your favorite curse word?

Maybe it's not a curse word, but I love when gay men called their buts "manginas." So foul. So wrong.

For the Adult Bedtime Stories tour, what are you most excited about? How will you decide which PJs to bring?

I'm excited -- and so should you be! -- to be present to the mega-Watt star power of Chelsea Cain and her 'Heartsick' imagination. Add to that the brooding, edgy humor of quiet Monica Drake, and you have an event that hasn't been matched since Irvine Welsh put together his 'Great Scots' tour ten years ago. Years from now people will be lying and saying they were there and wore pajamas and won prizes and were dazzled by how foolish an author tour could be.

What is your favorite harsh criticism for your work you've ever received?

My favorite? The angry stranger in Chicago who demanded "Do you masturbate to Brad Pitt's picture?!!"

Oh, that the New York Times could just be that honest.

Hey Chuck,

Big fan of your work. What's your favorite book? The favorite book you've written?

My favorite? Sorry, that's always 'next year's book' but in this case, it really truly is. Next year's book, "Beautiful You," is my stab at 'gonzo erotica.' I'm trying to fuse hardcore handjob books with romance novels. My working title was "Fifty Shades of the Twilight Cave Bear Wears Prada." It's time that slash-type fiction hits the bookshelves.

Mr. Palahniuk. First, thanks for all the words you've put into those beautiful stories, you've been a huge inspiration.

My question: how much do you get involved with the cover and editorial choices of the final books? I'm reading Survivor ATM and loooove the backward-counting numbers in pages and chapters, what was the reaction of the designer when you asked for this?

Random fact: the day I learned I was one degree away from knowing you I almost had a heart attack. Designer Jeff Fisher was my professor at a time.

Jeff Fisher. I was at his wedding. Portland is the size of a petri dish.

As an aspiring writer myself, I must ask this:

Are there any writing tips that have helped you the most? That, or is there anything you feel is "must know" for the craft—that seems to have escaped public consciousness?

For example, Steven King hates adverbs, maligning them as "dandelions" that litter a story. Sort of wondering what your shtick is.

I used to agree with Mr. King, but I've come to embrace adverbs as a useful tool for making horrible scenes funny. Nothing occurs as comic as dramatic, heart wrenching scenes depicted in poor writing. Bad writing makes tragedy into comedy. And adverbs are a useful way to undermine the drama of even the saddest scene. This is why your memoir should be the LAST book you write. If you write about your terrible childhood before you've developed your writing chops, you'll have the world laughing at you.

Hello Mr. Palahniuk. I don't have a question. I just want to say that you are truly brilliant and that I adore you and your work. Invisible Monsters is definitely my favourite. Is it flattering to say that Fight Club caused me to have an emotional breakdown?

Hey, any time I can prompt a breakdown, just let me know.

Just because I have the spare room, here, I want to shout out to "TEKST" for sending the glorious silver-foil print of the astronaut. It's framed and next to my fireplace -- hanging, not with the firewood. It's wonderful, but you -- TEKST -- did not send a phone number so I've neglected calling to thank you.

Sir, NoPo checking in. How much does the vibe of Portland influence your characters? The rain...

Argh the rain. Forgive me, but it's easier to stay home and work in Portland because I don't feel like I'm missing any giant events. In New York I might be tempted to go out every night and sleep all day, but in Portland I can be happy venturing out one or two nights each week.

I just thought you should know: I've read a number of your books, but I could not get passed the pearl diving story in Haunted. I think that was, at the time, the fourth or fifth of your books I'd read. I have not yet finished it.

Well done, sir.

Forgive me, but that's somewhat pussy-ish of you. God forbid you read the last story I had in Playboy, called "Cannibal." 'Makes 'Guts' look mild. But I have faith in you. Stay strong.

Your name is pronounced paulanick, right?

Right. Paula-Nick.

And since I have some extra room, here, I'm shouting out to Niki Mousikos and her class. Thank you for the World's Biggest Greeting Card. But I'm curious why all the students referred to my first book as "Fight Night." Hey, just asking...

Hi Chuck, I've actually wanted to ask you this question for a while now. Your books all seem to have a "chorus" element, a phrase that gets repeated multiple times throughout each book. For instance, "Give me... Flash" in Invisible Monsters. They always tie everything together really nicely, and I think they're one of the most interesting elements of your writing. How do you decide what that particular phrase is going to be when you're writing?

Thanks for noticing. I love how people use standard phrases for getting past awkward moments in conversation. My generation uses "Whatever" and "Anyways..." for those transitions. But I also appreciate how individual peer groups create their own stock phrases that reinforce their group identity. When an awkward silence falls, my Catholic family says, "It must be seven minutes after the hour..." because of the belief that Christ died at that time and all talking falls to silence out of respect. I'm told that Jewish people say, "A Jewish baby has been born" when such silent lull occur. So to mimic this human habit/tendency/need I've tried to invent transitional choruses specific to my own characters.

"Fight Club" is often compared to "American Psycho" as two very different ways of dealing with same problem: how to manage the effects of over abundant capitalism. How do you see the comparison between the two books? Thanks in advance.

I agree that both are quests for a realer identity, but I think 'Fight Club' has an emotional, vulnerable element. The narrator's quest is really for love and attachment with another person. Bret Ellis is a writer I always read, and 'The Informers' is always among my favorite books. Oh, geez, just the scene in the deli where the punk kids taunt the news anchorwoman, that scene is always haunting me. But I think my books risk a mushy sentimentality that Bret avoids like the plague.

Chuck, I'm a high school junior this year. Due to my crazy ass schedule (AP US History, AP Chemistry, AP Language, etc.), most of my time is spent doing rather mindless things, like playing video games or watching YouTube videos. I wish to re-enter the world of non-required literature, and I hear your books are brilliant. My question is, which should I start with?

Start with 'Lullaby' or 'Fight Club.' They're both airplane reads, three hours, tops. Or, cherry pick some stories out of 'Haunted.' That's my favorite way to explore a new writer. Read 'Nightmare Box,' and 'Hotpotting' and 'Guts' and 'Footwork.'

Better yet, read Nami Mun's fantastic collection of stories, "Miles From Nowhere." Then read Lidia Yuknavitch's novel "Dora."

I've had this question several times while reading your books.

What the fuck?

I had that question all through "The Notebook."

Hey Mr. Palahniuk, thanks for doing this! You're incredibly talented.

What was going through your head when you were writing Invisible Monsters? It was one of the strangest and most surprising books I've ever read. Wanted to know your thoughts.

At the risk of being politically incorrect: Drugs was going through my head. I had fallen in with bad companions and was still young enough to fall sway to their house hunting scheme for stealing prescription meds. My squandered youth.

Your works have changed my life in infinite and ever expanding ways. (See username) Thank you for being amazing!

What is one thing you have not satirized yet that you are desperate to work out?

Also, if you answered this it would make my life :)

I'd like to satirize the faction of society that calls for curtailing carbon output while crisscrossing the globe in private jets and Hummers. If I hear one more rich person wail about climate change while living in a zillion-square-foot house... boom, boom, boom. (that's the sound of me shooting myself)

Hey Chuck, I just recently picked up Pygmy and finished it in a few days, great read. I was very much appalled by how hyper-sexual and violent the environment was. These kids were in middle school. What inspired that?

What a sheltered life you've lived. In the 1970's, my high school was akin to a prison, rife with date rape (before it was date rape) and queer bashing (before it was queer bashing). Students just took their lumps and held their tongues. And if you complained the principal swatted you with a wooden paddle. Seriously, after Columbia High School in Burbank, Washington ("GO Coyotes!!"), prison and hell hold few terrors for me.

Heyyy, Chuck! Fight Club is my favorite book, what did you think of the movie?

How did that movie ever get a green light? I'm still shocked that it got made. But it's wonderful -- except I wish the dying people had come back at the end. Jim Uhls, are you listening?

Big fan!So glad your here again! Damned was an amazing look at hell. What part of the Hell you created is the most scary for you?

Let's just say that I'm not a huge fan of other people's bodily fluids.

Hello, When did you realize you wanted to write? Or rather, realized you wanted to make a career out of it?

When did I resign myself to writing? When I realized that I would not live forever and would have to narrow down my aspirations. My goal was just to write one decent sentence each week. That turned into one decent story. Tom Spanbauer's workshop kept me writing, and those stories became chapters in novels. Also -- and this is so important -- I bought a tiny house in a neighborhood with no television reception and no cable service. Books became my only entertainment, and I was so unimpressed with most books that I resolved to try and write the type of book I'd love to read.

We appreciate you taking the time to do this AMA. Whether intentionally or not, you became the voice of our generation as much as hunter s. Thompson was the voice of his, and taking the time to listen to that which your voice has inspired like this only proves that you deserve every bit of credit an hype you get

Aww shucks. Have you read "Story of My Life" by Jay McInerney? That was the voice of MY generation.


Does Buster Casey live on in a different time line after he party crashes to get back to save his mom, or is his original bloodline (Green Taylor Simms aka Charles Casey) completely erased from all existence?

Thanks so much I love you!

Also I loved Damned despite all the negative shit people said.

Rant and Survivor are the best books of all time! I love you!

Don't hate me, spoiler alert, but here's what happens:

Buster goes back to the moment when his maternal grandmother was fated to first meet his maternal grandfather. He steps in and foils the introduction, thus preventing his own birth. This action places him outside of physical time and place. Leaving him immortal. From there he seeks out other immortals. I've written most of the book but that's enough for now.

Hey chuck. What do you think about the connection between fight club and Kalvin and Hobbes?

I love it. I wish that comic would come back. Sigh. Why does Garfield never die? Or Cathy?

How many pages do you write a day? I find it necessary to limit it to 5-10 or I feel I start losing inspiration.

You can write five pages in a day? That would kill me. I'm lucky if I can get one good page, on average, in a day. If you go as high as ten you risk burning out. Baby steps, 'kay?

What do you consider inspiration when it comes to your writing?

Ask yourself: Where does it hurt?

My heart. My heart hurts..

Here, thank you, is the 'out' I need. It's nine o'clock, and I've been keyboarding for 3.5 hours. Writer Union rules require that I stop and drink some alcohol. Thank you, everyone including the masturbator, for hanging out. Tomorrow, Oct. 4th, I'll be doing a Spreecast with Chelsea Cain at 6:PM PST. We'll follow that with a Facebook Q & A at 7:PM. Please know, my heart also hurts. My heart. But booze and pills are calling. Good night. Sleep well, my beloveds.

A buddy of mine from New Hampshire got a signed copy in a box filled with baby doll arms. Is this true?

I've sent very realistic severed hands and arms, but they were adult-life-sized. My favorite gifts were hundreds of "livestock" trophies, featuring gilded rabbits, roosters and veals. Each animal mounted on a walnut pedestal. I found them all at a bankrupt trophy shop. Those made many people happy. But baby doll arms... I don't recall.

As someone who's writing seems relatively pessimistic, what about living excites you? What do you live for? Enjoy doing? Think is worth while?

Other people's stories about their lives, those inspire and delight me. My training is in journalism so I'm drawn to good stories, and I'm driven to remember and archive them. Then to share them. The real joy of book touring -- besides being around the brilliant Chelsea Cain and Monica Drake -- is knowing that strangers will tell me many shocking and emotionally moving true stories.

Hey Chuck. Huge fan. (I bet you'll appreciate my username) Fight club is the book that got me interested in reading. But, I have one question that I've always wondered: Are the first 2 rules of fight club used to teach the monkeys about breaking rules? Or was it actually there just so word doesn't get out?

Saying the rule twice was just a fun, cute experiment. I'd no idea it would become a global catchphrase. Also, there's a literary technique called "Apatio" (forgive my spelling). It states that a certain topic will not be broached. For example, if a story begins "We're not going to discuss what happened to Robert White..." Then you know that eventually we will. Apatio is a nice tease, so nice that I thought I'd use it twice.

My awesome instructor at San Diego State made Stranger Than Fiction a requirement. Made for some awesome in class discussions. Thanks, you da man.

And Thank You. San Diego is beautiful. Especially at ComiCon time.

I work in a bookstore and just want to say thanks for all the weird stuff you send us. We've got it all over the store -- I think the red mask freaks some people out. Any time we get free candy is a good time. Your media kits are the best to open.

Which bookstore? I wanted to send you a mess of pregnancy tests with Lidia Yuknavitch's memoir, "Chronology of Water," but they cost a fortune. Just wait until you hear about the massive amounts of special effects that Chelsea and I have shipped to this year's tour venues. It will be like a dozen reading raves.

Chuck Chuck Bo Buck Banana Fana Fo. . .

You flogged me with that every day in third grade. I am immune.

Dear Chuck,

In your opinion is suicide a strong plot device? I've been planning a novel for the better part of a year, but I've been putting it off in fear of how believable the plot is and whether or not coming of age stories are even worth writing anymore.

Just me talk'n. Just one opinion, but forget suicide. It's so unsatisfying and always feels too easy. There are exceptions, like the assisted suicide in "Dolores Claiborne." But as a rule....

Chuck what was the inspiration for the swimming pool story?

The skinniest man I've ever met. I had to know his diet secret, and when he said "radical bowel re-sectioning" I was hooked.

Have you ever experienced being pigeonholed by Fight Club? Fans who refer to you as the "Fight Club guy!" or something like that? Do you think Fight Club will be your 1984, so to speak?

I finally got to be the "guy who wrote 'Guts' but I'm not worried. This year, what Madison does to her grandfather in a public toilet might make 'Doomed' the book that eclipses 'Guts.'

Hi Chuck, I'm a massive fan (also wrote to you and received a package from you in my teens!)

I wanted to know if there are any particular authors or books you're reading now or would suggest. I'm always looking for a good book!

Some good new-ish books:

"The Stud Book" by Monica Drake "Miles From Nowhere" by Nami Mun "Kill You Twice" by Chelsea Cain

Hi Chuck! I've read that you worked for Freightliner for many years before making your breakthrough. I'm intrigued; is this a profession/industry that you'd recommend to other struggling writers, such as myself? Thanks!

Let's talk about the glories of technical writing... but first I need a drink. Wait one moment.

Back again. As I was saying, the assembly line work was tedious and exhausting, but it left my mind free to dream up stories. After three years of that I moved to a desk job where I wrote service procedures. This still involved going to a garage and repairing trucks, but it trained me to dissect each physical process or task. Step one: park the vehicle and set the parking brakes. Step two: Remove the two hexhead bolts.... Such writing made me aware of unpacking the physical aspects of a scene -- making characters do things with their hands and feet. And it helped me write comfortably in an instructive mode. Most fiction is descriptive: Susan walked in the room. But you can insert instructive writing for a new 'texture' in the storytelling. For example the bomb recipes and how-to parts of 'Fight Club.' They're all inspired by the countless service bulletins and recalls I wrote for Freightliner. And the job paid well enough that I could attend workshop and write in my spare time. For me, it was a great job. I hated to leave it.

Is Lullaby your black sheep, or do I just not frequent the right dark street corners of the literary internet to find love for it? It's always been my favorite (it's 3 feet away from me, in the middle of being read for the 3rd time), yet it always seems to turn up much less than your other works in discussions online (I read through your last AMA, and even in that it seemed sparsely represented). One of my favorite books of all time. If I'm wrong, are there any books of yours that you feel a little more protective of than others in terms of their reception? Edit I just saw your FB post about Lullaby being the easiest potential movie adaptation, and even on that post, more than half of the posters jump in with some variation of "They should make [x] instead!"

You touched my heart, dude. 'Lullaby' is among my favorites and it's my friends' favorite by a wide margin. But, no, I don't feel protective of any particular book. My feelings are spelled out in my story "Romance" where a man falls in love with a beautiful woman but all his friends insist she's brain damaged. That's how I feel when my beautiful new baby goes to the New York Times and they announce that it was actually born dead and deformed. Such receptions thicken your skin real fast.

I really like the darkness of your writing. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Honest? I was the last kid in my class who learned how to read and write. I was so relieved and filled with joy that I decided I'd make my life's career out of this hard-won skill. ( I couldn't read until third grade and I still can't spell thanx to something called Phonics )

Been putting my promo stickers all over. Thanks for being awesome! I love your stuff.


Mr. Palahniuk, I received one of your signed brains when you spoke in pittsburgh, I almost got the signed copy of your book, I think I blew mine up second. My question, respectfully sir is, as an aspiring writer myself, how do I channel my malaise properly into a valid narrative?

First, how old are you? If you're under 31 years old you should still be gathering story material. Second, what would make the writing process fun? I hated to write. Whipped myself to sit and write. Finally I gave myself permission to only write at parties. I've never been to as many parties as I attended while writing my first three books. People tell stories to entertain, and they're thrilled when you remember and use their anecdotes. So, what would make writing fun for you?

How can one procure a signed copy of Doomed if you aren't coming to my state and now that St. Helen's bookstore closed down?

Check out Powell' the Portland independent bookstore. They have signed copies. And bless you for shopping with St. Helens. I miss them something awful.

Hey Chuck, what did you eat for breakfast this morning?

One banana and six cups of coffee. A recipe for cramps and gas.

Is it true that fight club is the modern day Great Gatsby?

Yes, that was my model. Three characters. Apostolic fiction. Big fight scenes instead of party scenes. And the blond guy gets shot to death at the end. No kidding. I started with Gatsby as my blueprint.

Hey! Thanks for doing this AMA.

A while ago some local reddit Portlanders wanted me to track you down and have you speak about the NSA thing at our Restore The Fourth rally. Do you have any thoughts about the NSA or Edward Snowden?

I checked on your website and it said you preferred not to be contacted, a lot of folks were disappointed, you're sort of a generation's only trustworthy voice of reason.

I live to disappoint people.

I just wanted to tell you that you are probably my favorite person on this entire planet. You're absolutely amazing, but you probably already knew that

Just wait until you meet Chelsea Cain. She's stolen so many best friends from me, it's criminal. I hate her.

“When you're an addict, you can go without feeling anything except drunk or stoned or hungry. Still, when you compare this to other feelings, to sadness, anger, fear, worry, despair, and depression, well, an addiction no longer looks so bad. It looks like a very viable option.”

What were you going through during this time? What were you thinking?

Every character has to stand on a platform of rationalizations. That's half the fun of creating someone like Tyler Durden. I might not agree with what he says, but it's fun to wear his clothes and state things from his viewpoint.

Chuck chuck I love you suck my Dick no I mean uhh sign my dick no wait doh.

Moderators? Help this person.

Hey Chuck,

Last AMA you did I compared your writing to a taboo sexual act. You said thanks, but your niece is in the house, which is 80s speak for on the internet so watch what I say. Figured this time around, I would ask a question with 80s speak:

Hey Chuck,

Sup bro! Lemme just pause my cassette tape and let you know how gnarly your books are. When Im not setting my VCR to record Cheers and Miami Vice, im reading these righteous books. When any critics complain, I just wanna tell them to eat my shorts and take a chill pill. Your writing is grody to the max, keep it tubular man.

That was 80s speak for your writing is great to read compared to other forms of entertainment. Keep up the great work.

Gnarly, dude. I'm still so not going to talk sex with you. Yo.

( Always throw in 'Yo' it's crucial! )

I had a friend a while back who claimed he knew you and had been to your house. Did you, or have you ever lived in a castle in the WA/OR area? Also, you are amazingly talented, and thank you so much for your work!

Sorry, no castle. But I'm in the WA/OR area.

What's it like to write for Playboy?

A dream come true. No kidding. That magazine is the bravest. No other glossy would allow me to depict the scenes they do. Nobody appreciates that more than I do. Next month, they'll be publishing the story, "Zombies," that I'm reading on the tour next week.

Hi chuck, no question but the first book i ever masturbated to was Haunted. Neat huh?

I am so flattered. Sperm have died thanks to my work -- or are you a chick?


First off, I am sorry about your father. Do you still have strange episodes where you think you glimpse him in a crowd? Then you follow him and discover it's not him? Those sightings break my heart every time.

And I never planned to get "here" with my writing career. Whether or not I ever sold my work, I'd still be writing just for the opportunity to be in Tom's workshop each week. I've never had friends as lasting as my fellow writers. The motivation to write was simply the desire to sit with other writers and share the topic that few other people seemed to appreciate.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Chuck Palahniuk conducted on Reddit on 2013-10-03. The Reddit AMA can be found here.