Authors and Agents: Their Stories. CHUCK PALAHNIUK

I thought it would be fun to re-post how some of my favorite authors obtained representation. This week: Chuck Palahniuk, author of Survivor (or, better known as the author of Fight Club, but Survivor is my favorite by Chuck).



Beginning at the end, Tender Branson is on a suicide mission, flying an empty 747 that he hijacked. He is telling his story into the black box as the plane goes down.

Tender Branson is one of the ones they let go. He is one of the ones that was let out to explore the world beyond. He is part of the Creedish Church—a cult to outsiders—and almost completely alone at this point. Ten years in the past, someone spilled all of the secrets of the Church and put their “integrity” at risk. Fearing the discovery and forced demise of the Church, the members commit mass suicide. And all of those like Tender—the ones let out to explore—are expected to kill themselves, as the Deliverance is here.

Trying to lay low, Tender works as a housekeeper to a family he never sees. He cleans, cooks, tends the garden, and does whatever else they want him to do. He starts receiving phone calls from people wanting to kill themselves—the newspaper accidentally published his number under a crisis hotline ad—to which he responds with a go-ahead-and-end-it attitude more often than not. A member of a suicidal cult fielding calls meant for a crisis hotline. The perfect scenario for a rise in suicide.

Meeting with a therapist that specializes in members of cults with suicide pacts, Tender tries to live a decently normal life. But we learn about what the Creedish Church did and we realize that Tender Branson could never be normal.

How Chuck Palahniuk got an agent:

Believe it or not, Chuck had to go through hell and back to land an agent. His first submitted manuscript was a 700 page plus monster of a novel called Insomnia: If You Lived Here You’d Be Home Already. Chuck says it was his attempt at being Stephen King only every agent rejected it. Chuck than dabbled with even darker material, with a manuscript called Manifesto which would later be re-titled Invisible Monsters. Like “Insomnia,” agents just couldn’t embrace the dark tones in Chuck’s work, and while his voice as a writer got some recognition, nobody was willing to take a chance on him. That all changed when Chuck “gave up” and just decided to turn it up a notch and make his next manuscript even darker. Thus Fight Club was birthed and, within months, Gerry Howard (Chuck’s editor at WW Norton) convinced the higher ups to take that chance, and Chuck soon had a book deal with a major publisher. It wasn’t until 20th Century Fox took notice that Chuck nabbed an agent with Edward Hibbert, who would later go on to broker the deal ensuring Fight Club the movie was just a few years away.


Last week: Stephenie Meyer


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