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Litro: In your novel Diary, you write that “Everything is a self-portrait. Everything is a diary.” To what extent should we take your characters as a self-portrait? Is Misty a self-portrait of sorts? Is Peter?
Chuck: Of course Misty is me. All of my characters are. In the case of Diary I was processing my reaction to how the old wheat-land small towns I remember from childhood are being gentrified with vineyards and kite festivals. That, and I was exhausting the guilt I feel about neglecting all of my close relationships every time I get deep into the writing of a book. It’s as if I take a months-long trip and when I return all except my closest friends have dropped me.
Litro: Do you feel that the diary is in danger of being relegated to history, with teenagers putting the minutiae of their lives on social media for everyone to see? Are we losing our sense of privacy?
Chuck: Diaries are very much alive. The act of keeping one is now referred to as ‘journaling.’ A blog is an entirely different animal, it’s a performance of a public self intended to engage an audience. An act of exhibitionism. The older I get the more I admire those people who burn their diaries and take their best secrets to the grave.
Litro: Your latest novel, Beautiful You, explores and satirizes female sexuality, a bold topic for a male author. What made you want to write this book? Did it require any special research?
Chuck: Please don’t believe all the book jacket copy you read. My intention was to satirize arousal addiction, which is generally understood to be a male issue. By depicting women with the problem, I’d hoped to make it less threatening to male readers. As for research, I was forced to engage the professional services of thousands of world-renown sex experts. Those months of strenuous study have left me hardly more than a dried husk of my younger self. This is how I must suffer for my art.
Litro: Doomed was a sequel to your earlier novel Damned, and you’ve recently spoken about a planned sequel to Fight Club. Do you think you’re more open to sequels now than you used to be? Why is that?
Chuck: I’ve always been interested in sequels and prequels, any forms that broaden and deepen the original story. The real problem is that book publishers despise sequels even more than they do short story collections. There’s usually some attrition between the original and a sequel so publishers always expect the latter to sell fewer copies. Thus, unless the original sells ten million copies, publishers are dead-set against any sequels. My publisher has refused to offer me a contract for sequels to my novels Rant and Beautiful You. Perhaps some day those books will sell enough copies to warrant a sequel.
Litro: The Fight Club sequel will be a series of ten comics, is that right? Why did you decide to revisit these characters, and what made you choose comic books as the medium?
Chuck: It’s been a decades-long effort, but both the book and film of Fight Club have become classics. A sequel in either form would be compared directly to the original and, naturally, suffer. The novel and film have had a long head start to engender their audiences. Therefore, to launch the sequel on a level playing field, I chose the graphic novel because it’s a third medium. Plus it’s a collaborative effort much larger than a novel, but smaller than the army needed to make a movie. I get to be a student and learn from people – artists, editors, colourists, letterers – who are the best in their fields. With luck, my novel Rant will become a film, soon, and I can begin work on a graphic novel sequel to it. My fingers are perennially crossed.
Chuck Palahniuk‘s novels include the bestselling Snuff, Rant, Haunted, Lullaby and Fight Club, which was made into a film by director David Fincher, Diary, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Choke, which was made into a film by director Clark Gregg. He is also the author of the non-fiction profile of Portland Fugitives and Refugees and the non-fiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.