As part of the publishing gig, I get the opportunity to go to many authors events. Many of which have personal and unique elements. But never in my six years of working in this industry have I experienced anything like the event I went to last Thursday night.
You see last Thursday night, I went to my first Chuck Palahniuk event. And if you ever read any of Chuck Palahniuk’s work, you know why my mind was blown. If you’ve never read any of Chuck’s work, let me set the scene for you.
It’s cold and rainy, but that’s not stopping the 400+ Chuck fans who’ve shown up to Faculty of Music building (UofT) in their pyjamas. Yes, you read that right… this was a pyjama party! Housecoats, Fight Club PJs, teddy bears, even onesies were all filing in one big line where Chapters/Indigo was handing each attendee their signed copy of Doomed. But it wasn’t just books they were handing out. They were asked to keep going down the table to find white beach balls, neon glow sticks and black sharpies. Each person was encouraged to decorate their ball and write a question on it for Chuck to answer during the Q&A portion of the night.
I knew that he had a bit of a cult following, but I never knew it was to this extent! I was helping out with the event and had the opportunity to meet Chuck who was kind, funny and down to earth. Like a champion, he showed up already in pyjamas! He also had two Shoppers Drug Mart bags and a garbage bag with him. As a quiet observer, I was silently thinking to myself that it’s probably a change of clothes. Boy was I wrong.
1. Candy… A LOT of candy
2. Stuffed cats or in true Chuck fashion what he liked to call his pussies.
I knew my cues and headed out into the audience to sit with my pal to watch the start of the event. As Indigo’s Cammy came out in his plaid pjs he said what a thrill it was to have Chuck be there that evening and then the moment that everyone had been waiting for had finally arrived. Chuck walked out to huge applause, with his bags of Halloween candy and started throwing to everyone in the audience in his bare feet. Kit Kats, Caramilk and Aero bars were being tossed all around. People were literally jumping out of their seats to get their hands on that bag of candy. *The great thing is that the candy made the rounds throughout the crowd, as many shared their winnings* Then Chuck read. He read a story that I won’t be able to recap because I won’t do it justice, a story that I’ll never be able to unhear, a story that will forever make me think of it anytime I hear people say the words “guts”. It was hilarious, disturbing and perfect in every way.
When the story ended, it was my cue to run down to the side of the stage to get ready for my big cat (er, um, pussy) throwing duties. BUT before that happened, it was time for a question. To my surprise, Chuck asked the lighting team, to dim the lights and asked the people to throw their balls to the middle of the room so everyone’s questions got mixed together and it would create one hell of an experience. I captured it all on video, so you’ll understand just what I’m talking about:
Now that is how you do a Q&A! Questions about writing, what advice he’d give to a newborn baby and who his favourite character is were asked in this format. From where I was standing, it was an incredible sight to see. Then it was time for the cat throwing… Here’s a fact you need to know about me, I’ve always wanted to be the gal who got to be onstage and throw something, anything, really, even if it is stuffed cats. I took my job very seriously. I wound up my 12 year old baseball arm and biffed those cats as far and as wide as I could get them. It was every bit as thrilling as I’ve imagined it for all these years!
Chuck read one more story about zombies which was equally as entertaining as the first story and did one more question/beach ball throwing portion of the night before the night came to an end. As I said when I started writing this post, this is an author event like no other. For many, this was their first author reading/event, so I can only imagine the excitement they must have been feeling. It’s one thing for an author to be good at their craft, it’s a whole other thing for them to be an entertainer and on October 17th, that’s exactly what the audience experienced. An entertainer at his best.
A job well done to Chapters/Indigo for hosting an amazing event and a huge thank you to publicist/friend Frances for letting me be a part of it all!