Meeting Chuck Palahniuk

IMG_0953Way back in 2013, when my husband and I first got together, he introduced me to Fight Club, which led to an almost immediate obsession with the man behind it: Charles (Chuck) Michael Palahniuk. As someone who’s obsessed with psychological movies with crazy twists, it was only natural that I wanted to find out more about the author. So, I looked a little more into him and bought my first novel: Diary – which follows a young artist who “finds herself in pawn in a larger conspiracy that threatens to cost hundreds of lives.” Needless to say, the book itself was enough to follow through with my research on him, which all started with:

Where does he get his ideas? What genre is he writing for?

So, after finding the answers to these, Chuck quickly became a staple in my life. I started researching everything about him and it wasn’t long before I learned that the man behind all of the novels was actually a pretty great guy. For his novels, he gets his ideas from actual people and situations in his life. Then, he actually gives credit where credit is due and acknowledges where he got his information from. Luckily, all of his ideas fall under the transgressive fiction genre because they’re not for the faint of heart.

Including Chuck, there are only 6 other authors in the entire genre, and Chuck quickly made his way into the same genre as his idol Bret Easton Ellis. Now, the primary idea behind transgressive fiction is to break societal norms and push against them. The narrators aren’t usual people, they don’t have filters, and Chuck creates plots that are twisted enough that you want to keep going. Well, with the introduction of Fight Club 2 (his first graphic novel), the group that religiously followed him quickly became known as “Chuckleheads,” and I’m honored to be a part of them.

To refrain from sounding a like a creep, meeting him became one of my bucket list goals. After diving into the world of Chuck, I decided that I had to meet the man behind the mass amounts of transgressive fiction on my shelves. So, after building up quite a collection of his books (22/25), following his web-page, and finding an event going on in Denver on Facebook, my husband and I finally got to meet him.

On February 16, 2019, my husband and I decided that meeting Chuck would make the perfect Valentine’s Day date. Over the past six years, we’d usually just go out to eat, or maybe make a day of it, but this year, we got to meet our idol. Chuck is not only a staple in my life, but he’s also a staple in my husbands. So, we woke up earlier than usual and went to I Want More Comics in Thornton, CO. They were celebrating their 10-year anniversary by having Chuck and other artists in their store. Which, I’m not entirely sure how they managed to get him there, but I’m extremely glad they did.

Now, Thornton is anywhere from an hour to two hours away from where we reside depending on traffic, so we couldn’t have gotten there right when it started with my husband being on night-shift, so we arrived a little later. Luckily, they had a system going. When you walked in, you got a ticket stub with numbers on it and they called 10 people to stand in line at a time. So, by arriving a little late, we managed to get a measly two-three hour wait time. Although, I guess it’s only measly depending on the event you’ve signed up for. Needless to say, those two-three hours were filled with anxiety, and we managed to go eat lunch and buy stuff for my reading nook from a nearby Target.

 

After the wait was over, we nervously got in line to meet him. Obviously, in my excitement, I had to document almost every step with photos:

While in line, I thought about all the things I wanted to say to him. How he’s become such a huge inspiration to me, how I dedicated an entire blog to his works, and how I was a writer as well, but when I finally got up to him, I was star-struck. So star-struck that I could barely speak. We got up to him, shook his hand, introduced ourselves, and he signed quite a bit. There was so much going through my head that I just didn’t know what to say to him. Everything that I rehearsed in my head ended up completely disappearing. THE Chuck Palahniuk was standing in front of me, and I actually shook his hand.

Luckily, I brought something to give to him  – my digital drawing of an Archerized Chuck.

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With the drawing, also came his birthday the following week. So, I asked him, “Isn’t your birthday next week?” like a total creep and finally gave him the drawing. It was pretty cool because he said he’d set it in his office, where all his other fan-art is, but what was cooler was how casual he was about me knowing his birthday. All he said was, “ya know what, it sure is” and took the drawing. If a year ago, anyone told that my drawing would end up in the hands of Chuck himself, I would’ve said they were crazy, so the very idea that it actually ended up with him is pretty amazing.

During the whole debacle of my mind going completely blank, he signed a few books, my laptop cover, and gave us two of his infamous severed arms (pictured below).

Then, after the long wait, the signings, and the awkward discussion, we got to take photos with him. Now, when you take photos with Chuck, they’re not the usual “stand here, say cheese” kind of photos. Chuck makes the whole thing an experience and he poses you in a very particular way. Well, for my photo (that was at the beginning of this), I chose the choke pose, where he was supposed to “choke” me in a photo. However, with Chuck being as ripped as he is, instead of pretending to choke me, he accidentally cut off my airway a little. So, I literally got choked by Chuck. For my husbands stance, he chose the fighter pose, where they pretended to fight. Chuck posed him to a point where his feet were aligned in the specific way he wanted, and he had my husband flex and look at the camera.

After we left I Want More Comics and Chuck, I was still reeling. I couldn’t shut up the entire way home and I immediately edited and posted all of the photos, told all of my friends about it, and frankly I still can’t believe it happened. Now, I’m not sure what else happened that day, but I’m pretty sure we ended the night with Red Robin burgers and ended up back home playing video games. Needless to say, this was the best Valentine’s Day we’ve ever had, and my new goal is to meet him again so I can actually pick his brain like I wanted to initially. To me, Chuck is an enigma. His works are mind-bending, full of twists, and 100% totally original, one can only hope that one day I can finally sit down with him over a cup of coffee after I publish my own novel.

 

 

Getting to meet Chuck was one of the best days of my life next to meeting Dance Gavin Dance (read about that here), and it wouldn’t have been possible without our big move to Colorado back in 2016. 

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