Chuck Palahniuk, the author of the novel “Fight Club,” is known for novels that are fantastical, satirical, funny and outrageously profane. Yet his work, he insists, comes directly from life.The q-and-a ran today in The Washington Post.
Here's a slightly extended version of his answer about the inspirations for his novels. "Doomed," by the way, features a teen-age girl who emerges from hell to get stuck in Purgatory (which, in his world, is Earth).
One of the University students wanted me to ask you: Where do your crazy stories come from?
Usually someone tells me a story that I find so striking or so compelling that I have to share it with other people -- and then those other people I share it with tell me a version of it from their own lives. I find I'm able to develop the story ideas that come from one person but use the experience of a lot of people. I just cherry-pick the very best versions of the same experience, and usually find a way of quilting them together and making a story out of it.
That makes it sound like your fiction is realistic.
My degree is in journalism, so a lot of it is just looking for key elements of stories and finding the patterns that exist between them. They're stories from people's lives, because those are the most unfiltered, freshest stories. Usually they have some cultural precendent, but they're something I've never seen anywhere before. That always hooks me.
Do you then have to make them more fantastical?
Usually I have to make them less fantastical.