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Posted by Chuck

The Big Secret Why Behind Everything so Far

The Big Secret Why Behind Everything so Far

     On the plus side I'm not crazy.  For several years my income has dwindled.  Piracy, some people told me.  Or the publishers were in crisis and slow to pay royalties, although the publishers insisted they'd sent the money.  

     More recently, the trickle of my income stopped.  Not that there wasn't always a good excuse.  Someone's mother was suffering from Alzheimer's and needed constant looking after.  The bank's wire transfer system wasn't secure, and hackers were a new threat.  You don't question someone who claims to be the caregiver for a mother with dementia.  You let it slide.  I let it slide.

     That's why my big shows on book tour stopped.  Because the payment for Fight Club 2 and the two coloring books and Adjustment Day never seemed to arrive.  Years of income.  Each of those big shows cost north of ten grand to stage.  Money I paid.  For the glowing beach balls, the severed arms, the $150 leather-bound books as prizes, not to mention the dog toys, the shipping, the candy.  So much candy.  For each event, shopping carts full of candy.  It was justified in my mind because most of my readers had never attended an author reading, and I wanted their first to be exceptional.  But when my income stopped, when I had to choose between health insurance and autographed rubber arms... the shows stopped.  There, I've said it.

     In comics, you pay your own way.  Invitations arrived from Comic-Cons, Dragon Cons, Wizard Worlds, but my money for travel had dried up.  Instead of income, I got excuses.  But this entire time an idea nagged at me:  What if someone's stealing?

      But that, that was insanity.  I've worked with the same team of people since 1994.  To suspect anyone was stealing, I had to be crazy.

      And then I wasn't.  You may have read about this over the weekend in the New York Post.  All the royalties and advance monies and film option payments that had accumulated in my author's account in New York, or had been delayed somewhere in the banking pipeline, it was gone.  Poof.  I can't even guess how much income.  Someone confessed on video he'd been stealing.  I wasn't crazy.

     If you've written to me chances are that your letter passed through the hands of the accused.  He'd collect the mail and forward it to me.  He seemed like a good guy.  Like a prince of a guy.  Like man-crush material.  And then he wasn't.

     On the minus side, this chain of events leaves me close to broke.  To be robbed feels, huh, flattering.  As a kid, every summer my family made a week-long drive to see the ocean.  While gone we left our house unlocked.  I asked my mother why, one time, and she sighed.  She took me from room to room, showing me our faded, scuffed plastic dishes, our black-and-white console television where the picture shrunk, smaller and smaller, as the tube failed, our frayed clothes.  Her point was:  What's to steal?  We had nothing except endless friends and family.

      So on the minus side, I apologize for cursing my publishers.  And I apologize for any rants about piracy.  My publishers had paid the royalties.  Piracy, when it existed, was small scale.

     I do hereby humbly apologize.

     On the plus side, I'm incredibly rich.  Rich beyond my ever imagining, with friends and readers who've rushed to my rescue.  Since the crime was uncovered, people have offered their children's college funds.  They've offered to mortgage their houses to keep me afloat.  They've come forward with legal advice and stop-gap, hands-on help.  My current publisher, W.W. Norton -- who published my first book, Fight Club, and my last book, Adjustment Day -- has absorbed the huge extra costs of this year's book tour, costs I could no longer afford.  Todd Doughty at Doubleday has stepped up to save me every time I've put my head through a noose.  Chelsea Cain has wrangled me advice from high-powered entertainment lawyers.  

      So where I'm at doesn't feel so bad.  In this  crisis I feel grateful and touched by every reader who's shown me such support.  I do hereby humbly thank you.  

     On the minus side, the legal process will be long and offers an iffy reward.

     On the plus side I'm not crazy.  Nor am I alone.

- Chuck Palahniuk