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Frequently Asked Questions About Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk.  Photo by Murdo Macleod

You got questions, we got answers.  This is the ultimate Chuck Palahniuk F.A.Q.

Biographical Information

  1. How do you pronounce Palahniuk?Young Chuck Palahniuk.  Photo by Harley Soltes.
  2. How old is Chuck?
  3. Where did he grow up?
  4. Where did he go to school?
  5. Is he an only child?
  6. Where does he live now?
  7. What is his heritage?

Contact Information

  1. How can I send him a letter?
  2. How do I get him to read at my bookstore or school?
  3. How do I arrange an interview with him?
  4. I'd like to thank him for the stuff he sent me, where should I send it?

Miscellaneous

  1. What is this I heard about an Anthology he will be editing?
  2. Does he believe in God?
  3. Does he believe in ghosts?
  4. Who are his favorite writers?
  5. What kinds of music does he listen to?
  6. What other jobs has he had besides writing?

On Writing

  1. Where does he get his ideas, inspiration etc. from?
  2. What made him want to be a writer?
  3. When did he start writing?
  4. When does he write?
  5. Where does he write?
  6. What does he write with Computer? Typewriter? Paper and pen?
  7. Who are his influences?
  8. How much research does he do for each book?
  9. How long does it take him to write a book?
  10. Does he ever plan on teaching?
  11. Is he writing a book about minimalism?
  12. What is his favorite thing about writing?

Chuck Palahniuk.  Photo by John Gress.

Photo by John Gress

About the Work

  1. Who is Chuck's favorite character?
  2. Are fight clubs real (If so, where can I find one)?
  3. Has he ever been in a fight?
  4. Are the recipes in Fight Club real?
  5. Will the cleaning tips and solutions in Survivor really work?
  6. What really happened at the end of Survivor?
  7. Is the agent in Survivor based after Chuck's real life agent?
  8. What's up with Chuck's dedications Who are these people?

The People Behind Chuck

  1. Who is his agent?
  2. Who is his editor?
  3. Who is his publicist?
  4. Who are his publishers?
  5. Who were his publishers?
  6. How did he land an agent?
  7. How are his tours planned?
  8. Why won't Chuck come to my [insert city/state/country here]?
  9. Does Chuck have other publishers foreign publishers?
  10. How come I cant find a published Chuck book in my country/language?
  11. Who do I speak to about this?

The Books

  1. 'Fight Club' by Chuck Palahniuk
  2. What is this book Flug 2039 I see on Amazon?
  3. What is this book Nana I see on Amazon?
  4. What languages have his books been translated into?
  5. What is the very first story he ever published?
  6. I heard Invisible Monsters was written before Fight Club. Why was Fight Club
    published first?
  7. Why cant I find a hardcover copy of Invisible Monsters?

From Book to Movie

  1. How was Fight Club optioned to a movie?
  2. How was Chuck involved in the process (did he help w/ the script)?
  3. Was Chuck ever on set? (recount the US magazine article/story and show pic of
    him with Brad Pitt)
  4. So what's this I hear about a possible Survivor movie?
  5. So what's this I hear about Miramax and Jesse Peyronel doing Invisible Monsters?
  6. What other movies are in production?
  7. Will Chuck ever make his own movie?

Chuck and the Website

  1. How did this website come to be?
  2. So Chuck didn't hire you guys?
  3. So how exactly is Chuck involved with it then?
  4. Does Chuck visit the site Read the forums?
  5. Does Chuck have anything to do with the design or the content?
  6. Can I email Chuck through the site then?

Biographical Information

  1. How do you pronounce Palahniuk?
    PAUL-AH-NIK (Paula Nick). The story goes that Chuck's grandparents decided to pronounce their name as a combination on their two first names, Paula and Nick. As Chuck relates it: So many Palahniuk's drop letters from the name. We kept all the letter's but Chuck Palahniuk High School yearbook photowe probably say it the worst.". The 'Old World' pronunciation is PAH-la-NYOOK
  2. How old is Chuck
    Do the math. His birthdate is February 21st, 1962.
  3. Where did he grow up?
    Burbank, Washington.
  4. Where did he go to school?
    Columbia High, Burbank Washington Class of ’80. He won the “Most-Wittiest” award in high school and graduated with a BA in Journalism from the University of Oregon in 1986.
  5. Is he an only child?
    No, he has a brother and four sisters.
  6. Where does he live now?
    He splits his time between homes in Oregon and Washington State.
  7. What is his heritage?
    French and Russian by way of Ukraine. (Please do not email us with corrections to this comment. This is a direct quote from Chuck himself.)

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Contact Information

  1. How can I send him a letter?
    Chuck is currently not accepting fan mail of any sort in order to concentrate on his writing. The best way to get an autograph would be during one of his tours or on eBay.
  2. How do I get him to read at my bookstore or school?
    If you have a real and professional request for Chuck for a reading or appearance you must write a formal proposal and mail it to either his agent Edward Hibbert or publicist Tom Doughty. Please do not contact this website for their contact information. See the next question below.
  3. How do I arrange an interview with him?
    If you have a real and professional request for Chuck for an interview you must write a formal proposal and mail it to either his agent Edward Hibbert at Donadio and Olsen or his publicist Tom Doughty at Random House (both companies are located in New York City and have addresses that can be tracked down if you dedicate more than two minutes to it). Random emails and phone calls are frowned upon and will most likely go unanswered. *Also, it is important to pay attention to Chuck's schedule, as he most likely will not be doing any appearances unless he is on tour and is promoting a book.
  4. I'd like to thank him for the stuff he sent me, where should I send it?
    Please see number one under this section. This applies to 'thank you' notes as well. Try to understand also that, as fine as your intentions are, sending a second letter to Chuck just creates more work for him. Chuck reads and responds to all his own mail. If he's going to reply to a fan letter, maybe it should be to someone that's never received one. Also make sure that if you intend to write Chuck a letter, that your return address should be valid for at least three months after the time you send your letter.  Chuck has taken a lot of time to send nice care packages to fans who write him letters, only to have them bounced back to him because the person changed their address and/or moved.

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Miscellaneous

Chuck Palahniuk and Amy Hempel at The Strand bookstore in NYC

  1. What is this about an Anthology I heard that he is editing?
    Chuck is co-editing Burnt Tongues, an anthology of the best stories written for this website's former writers workshop between the years.  It will be published by Mediallion Press in late 2014.  LitReactor.com reported the acquisition here.
  2. Does he believe in God?
    He prefers to not elaborate on his "religious" beliefs. When asked this exact question, he simply answers "Yes." and leaves it at that.
  3. Does he believe in ghosts?
    Sometimes. Read 'Fright Club,' an essay from Stranger Than Fiction for more.
  4. Who are his favorite writers?
    Amy Hempel. You'll be pressed to find an interview where Chuck does not mention how much he likes and admires her work. (Read his essay on Hempel here.) He also cites Monica Drake, Justin Jorgenson, Thom Jones, Craig Clevenger, Junot Diaz, Bret Easton Ellis, Larry Brown and Denis Johnson. See a full list of Chuck's favorite books here.
  5. What kinds of music does he listen to?
    Chuck is a big fan of Radiohead, NIN, and Prodigy. All of these bands played instrumental parts during his writing process of his last few books. But rather than going out and buying music, he usually gravitates to what people recommend or send him. In Chuck's own words:

    "Every type. It depends on the mood I want to create. I use music like a drug. For this non-fiction writing, I like “chill” music – with “Chill Factor Audiotherapy” playing right now. But for editing, I’ll listen to the Chopin Nocturnes that Tiffany Wong sent me. And for the first draft of my next angry story, maybe… Pink Floyd. Other stories, Country and Western. What can I say? I’m a mess."
     
  6. What other jobs has he had besides writing?
    Movie projectionist. Bicycle messenger. Dish washer. Service documentation mechanic. Assembly line mechanic for Freightliner. Newspaper reporter - Chuck's earliest bouts with writing happened at The University of Oregon, where he was a Journalism major. Webmaster Dennis asked Chuck at the Edinboro Conference if he had any early articles he'd like to share and he waved it all off as crap.

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On Writing

  1. Where does he get his ideas, inspiration etc. from?
    From his life. From the lives of friends and acquaintances. And from research. From all the best and worst things that can happen, and the crazy things people will do to get their needs met. Chuck has said that all of his characters run some sort of scam--but not for money. Usually, they have an unorthodox approach to getting their emotional needs met. Chuck also draws inspiration and finds the energy to write from anything that pisses him off. Several Chuck Palahniuk novels feature biting satire on the fate of the working poor in America and the myth of a classless society.Chuck Palahniuk.  Photo by Yasmina Moya
  2. What made him want to be a writer?
    In his own words: "Mr. Olsen in the fifth grade made me want to be a writer. He said, 'Chuck, you do this really well. And this is much better than setting fires, so keep it up'. That made me a writer."
  3. When did he start writing?
    In the early 90's. A friend suggested he take a writing workshop with Tom Spanbauer and the rest is history.
  4. When does he write?
    Whenever he has an idea that demands he puts it on paper before he loses it. Chuck advocates against forcing yourself to write on a schedule, when you are uninspired and uncompelled. The most basic tenet of his writing philosophy can be paraphrased as "shit or get off the pot."
  5. Where does he write?
    Wherever he finds himself. Chuck is a physical and a social person. He likes to be in motion and he likes to stay involved with people. He sort of dreads the later stages of drafting and the serious research phases that force him to sequester himself away from the world and plant it in front of a computer.
  6. What does he write with? Computer? Typewriter? Paper and pen?
    As per question 5, much of Chuck's early drafting is pen and paper. He recommends taking your early computer drafts with you when you go places, and line editing with a pen--constantly rolling your ongoing experiences into the work.
  7. Who are his influences?
    Amy Hempel for one. Amy's own influences include Raymond Carver, Mary Robison and editor and workshop leader Gordon Lish. Chuck has also expressed his admiration for the work of fellow contemporary minimalists such as Denis Johnson and for masters ranging from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Edgar Allan Poe.
  8. How much research does he do for each book?
    A lot. In his own words:  "If I start looking at how much time I spend doing research, I realize that I get paid about 10¢ an hour. My research really is screwing around and being with people and doing things I love to do." -- from San Francisco Bay Guardian Interview of October 30, 2002
    More on research: Chuck does a majority of the research for his novels in the local town library. He'll spend days pouring over books that deal with topics he wants to explore in his books. While writing Lullaby Chuck asked co-founder of The Cult, Amy Dalton, how much The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers cost in her store. (Chuck felt he had been ripped off on the price he spent), figuring that this book would play a major part in Lullaby.  Amy responded, "I didn't inquire why he needed it. Later, when I finally got to read Lullaby I came across a page and a half of dialogue from the narrator, Carl Streator, where all the different serial killers over time are analyzed. It was then that I realized that Chuck researched an entire encyclopedia of information for less than two pages of narration. Talk about patience and research."
  9. How long does it take him to write a book?
    Chuck completed the first draft of Lullaby in only six weeks, but this marks the first novel that he has approached as a full-time writer, free of other obligations.
  10. Does he ever plan on teaching?
    Chuck has said, on few occasions, that if he ever wasn't a writer, he'd like to be a teacher, instructing students on the craft of 'Minimalism.' He has even romanticized about starting his own writing colony in an old castle in Oregon.
  11. Is he writing a book about minimalism?
    Right now, the 'How To' book, Chuck once proposed, on minimalism, seems to be on the backburner. He instead focused his efforts on co-editing an anthology of the best short stories submitted to his online writers workshop, titled Burnt Tongues (coming in 2014).
  12. What is his favorite thing about writing?
    Tough to say, but I'm pretty sure Chuck's favorite part of writing is doing the research. It's perhaps the main reason why he likes journalism so much these days. Getting those cool details and stories out of people is what makes him tick. Once it's in his novel, he's done his work.

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About the Work

  1. Who is Chuck's favorite character?
    Denny from Choke. Based on a real friend of Chuck's that died from Hepatitis D, Denny represents, what Chuck calls, "an enlightened dumbness" and is one of the few characters Chuck has written that he really cared for.
  2. Are fight clubs real (If so, where can I find one)?
    No, he made it up.
  3. Has he ever been in a fight?
    Yes that was actually the inspiration for Fight Club. While camping with some friends, he got in a brawl over music being played too loud and went to work on Monday with his face smashed up and no one commented on it; they all pretended they didn't notice. Read all about it in the Fight Club Movie / Novel portion of our Media section. Lots of great interviews there!
  4. Are the recipes in Fight Club real?
    They were. Chuck did very meticulous research and received some great notes from his brother, but at the last moment his publishers decided to change one ingredient in each recipe for liability reasons.'Survivor' by Chuck Palahniuk
  5. Will the cleaning tips and solutions in Survivor really work? Yep. Again, Chuck doesn't fudge when it comes to research. As he says: "My journalist's bogey is that if I'm going to use it as a non-fictional device, it has to be true, as far as I can research it. All the trivia is true. In a way, I want to make the incredible plausible by burying it in non-fiction stuff. Make the little tiny details all true, so people will believe the really big, outlandish stuff."
  6. What really happened at the end of Survivor?
    Well if you really want to spoil the fun of figuring it out for yourself, click this.
  7. Is the agent in Survivor based after Chuck's real life agent?
    While Chuck goofs around with this question all the time, the dedication in Survivor reads: "The agent in this book is not Edward Hibbert, who represents my work with all his humor, energy and skill."
  8. What's up with Chuck's dedications? Who are these people?
    Chuck is very partial to dedicating his books to the people who have supported him, mentored him, and read his work early on. This is why you'll find that many of his books he dedicates to people in his workshop. He's also dedicated books to his grandparents, his deceased father, his two dogs, and even this lowly webmaster.

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The People Behind Chuck

  1. Who is his agent?
    Edward Hibbert of Donadio & Olson, Inc. is Chuck's book agent. Check out Edward's double life as an actor here. And Richard Green at UTA (United Talent Agency) is his screen agent.
  2. Who is his editor?
    Gerry Howard has been Chuck's friend and editor and was also the key figure in discovering Chuck early on. He has been his editor since WW Norton and Fight Club and took the transition with him over to Doubleday.
  3. Who is his publicist?
    Tom Doughty at Random House.
  4. Who are his publishers?
    Random House has published all of Chuck's novels since Invisible Monsters. Fugitives and Refugees was published by Crown Publishing, a division of Random House.
  5. Who were his publishers?
    Fight Club was originally published by Henry Holt and Co. but is now distributed by Random House. Henry Holt still distributes the paperback edition of Fight Club. Survivor and Invisible Monsters were both published by WW Norton.
  6. How did he land 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.
  7. How are his tours planned? Chuck Palahniuk with Monica Drake (left) and Chelsea Cain (right) on the 'Doomed' tour in New Orleans
    Depending on the size Chuck and his publishers agree the tour should be, a certain amount of cities are chosen. Bookstores either call Chuck's publicist or are called in return. Dates are scheduled and Chuck is then launched around the world like a madman.  Lately, Chuck has taken to inviting close friends and fellow writers with him on tour.  For his latest tour for the new novel Doomed, Chuck invited Monica Drake (Clown Girl) and Chelsea Cain (Heartsick) along for the ride and they turned each event into a party, where fans in the audience were encourage to dress up in their best pajamas for chances at prizes.
  8. Why won't Chuck come to my [insert city/state/country here]?
    Chucks' tours are planned to cover as many areas as possible but there's no way he can get everywhere and meet all his fans and still manage to write books. Still, don't give up hope.
  9. Does Chuck have other publishers foreign publishers?
    Yes. In fact, Chuck has publishers and publicists in each major country his books are released. Chuck's agent, Edward Hibbert, retains the rights to all his foreign publications, but the books themselves have their own distributors, independent of Random House.
  10. How come I cant find a published Chuck book in my country/language?
    Because there isn't one? But really, please, Chuck's work is widely translated but like many things, the publishing industry is governed by supply and demand.
  11. Who do I speak to about this?
    You could write to his publisher (Doubleday) or start a petition and send it along to Doubleday. You never know...

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The Books

  1. How many different covers does the paperback of Fight Club have?
    Four. The original, the movie-tie-in, the re-issue with a new forward by Chuck and then another re-issue.

    'Fight Club' - Original Trade Paperback     'Fight Club' - Movie Tie In

    'Fight Club' - Re-issue with forward by Chuck Palahniuk     'Fight Club' - Second re-issue
     
  2. What is this book Flug 2039 I see on Amazon?
    Why that's simply the German version of Survivor.
  3. What is this book Nana I see on Amazon?
    That's the Spanish version of Lullaby.
  4. What languages have his books been translated into?
    Wow, a lot. Count them yourself on each books main page! Let us know if we're missing any.
  5. What is the very first story he ever published?
    His earliest known published work is a story called 'The Love Theme of Sybil and William'. It was published in 1990 in the now defunct literary journal Modern Short Stories. For more information about his other published works, check out our Bibliography section.
  6. I heard Invisible Monsters was written before Fight Club. Why was Fight Club published first?
    Invisible Monsters was rejected for being too dark. So Chuck decided to write something even darker, which was Fight Club and it got snatched up. Go figure.
  7. Why cant I find a hardcover copy of 'Invisible Monsters'?
    Invisible Monsters was never published in hardcover at Chuck' request. He didn't feel people should have to pay hardcover prices for his books. In 2011 though, WW Norton released the Invisible Monsters Remix, an updated version of the book. This edition is a restructured version of the novel. It contains a new author's introduction, explaining that the linear structure of the first edition was not the novel's original intent. Instead, this new edition of the novel presents the chapters in mixed order with instructions on which chapter to read next, similar to Choose Your Own Adventure books, and new chapters have also been added.  Also, it's available in hardcover!  Get it here.

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From Book to Movie

  1. How was Fight Club optioned to a movie?
    20th Century Fox bought the rights to Fight Club in 1996. Around that same time, director David Fincher got his hands on the book and quickly fell in love with it. He then found out that Fox already owned an option on the book and set upon doing his best to convince producer Laura Ziskin that he was the director for this book. 
  2. How was Chuck involved in the process (did he help w/ the script)?
    Chuck really preferred to stay away from the moviemaking process of Fight Club as much as possible. His only real involvement was a two sit-down session with the screenwriter, director, and producers of the movie in which they all brainstormed ideas. But Chuck admits that he spent most of the sessions penning notes for what would become his next novel, Survivor.
  3. Was Chuck ever on set?
    Ohh, yes. Chuck played "idiot tourist" during his two day stay in Los Angeles and even invited some best friends with him to tour the lot at 20th Century Fox. Check out this picture of Chuck with friends and a certain actor:

     Chuck Palahniuk on the set of 'Fight Club' - Movie Maker Magazine

  4. So what's this I hear about a possible Survivor movie?
    Oyy vey, the question we get asked possibly more than Chuck does. There was a time back in 2000 when Survivor seemed poised to be the next Palahniuk adaptation to hit the big screen. Gwenyth Paltrow's brother Jake Paltrow had a screenplay, 20th Century Fox had the option, Jerry Bruckheimer was interested in producing, Trent Reznor in scoring, and even Jim Carrey and Madonna was were interested in acting. But then two airplanes flew into the World Trade Center and suddenly, movies about hijacked flights and "terrorism" were no longer in.
    As of the last bit of news we heard on this, director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Hunger Games: Catching Fire) was attached.  Here is the latest quote we have from Lawrence about the project.

    I’m working on the book Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk that I’m working on with a friend… It’s a great book. I love that book. So we’ve been working on that.

    Read more about the history of the Survivor movie here.

  5. So what's this I hear about Miramax and Jesse Peyronel doing Invisible Monsters?
    Yes, and that leads us to Chuck's third novel and second attempt at movie adaptation. Like Survivor, Invisible Monsters found itself in production limbo quick. The only name early on to be possibly connected was Parker Posey's, for the role of Shannon. But then a new name emerged from the ashes - Jesse Peyronel - and that name stuck for a while. I interviewed Jesse in 2002 back when he first became attached to the project. But then the project sunk into the shadows as the expiration on the option came up. Around that time, a British television company became interested in the idea of buying and developing "Monsters" as an animated feature film. But lo and behold, Jesse returned to renew his option on "Monsters" but was supposedly not able to secure enough funding to get a green light for production from Miramax Films.

    Currently, a Toronto based filmmaker named Cameron MacLaren has the option and is hoping to develop the film over the course of the next few years.  Read our interview with Camera MacLaren here.
  6. What other movies are in production?
    Eight of Chuck's novels are currently optioned, even Snuff.  But besides Invisible Monsters, Haunted seems to be the only other project with some legs, with Belgium filmmaker, Koen Mortier developing and directing.  More on that hereRant was optioned in the summer of 2008 but there has been no further word on that project since.
  7. Will Chuck ever make his own movie?
    Actually, Chuck wrote his very first script called Ambition. It's about a failed artist who begins killing people in order to enhance his floundering career. Last we spoke about it, Chuck had turned the script into a stage play, which he watched performed with actors in the nearby mausoleum in Oregon. But after test-driving the script before a live audience in Los Angeles a few years back, he felt it needed a lot more work and it has since been temporarily put on the back-burner.

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Chuck and the Website

  1. How did this website come to be?
    In late August of 1999, some friends of mine and I attended a reading of Chuck's for Invisible Monsters in New York City. Afterwards, we spoke with Chuck for about 15 minutes and I proposed the idea of a website for him. Chuck gave me the go ahead to whip something up and 2 weeks later, we were emailing each other and Chuck was loving the site. About a year later, he said we might as well call the site "official" since it was here to stay. Fourteen years later and I can proudly say we're still here. Read more about the history of the website here. (returning soon!)
  2. So Chuck didn't hire you guys?
    Not at all. If anything, we hired Chuck. Like I said, the website was here to stay regardless, fan site or official site.  We created something. Chuck wanted to be a part of it. End of story.
  3. So how exactly is Chuck involved with it then?
    Although this is Chuck Palahniuk's official website, we are in essence, more an official 'fan site.' Chuck Palahniuk himself does not own nor run this website. Nor did he create it. It was started by Dennis Widmyer, who is the webmaster and editor of most of the content. Chuck Palahniuk himself should not be held accountable nor liable for any of the content posted on this website. The opinions expressed in the news updates, content pages and message boards are not the opinions of Chuck Palahniuk nor his publishers. If you are trying to contact Chuck Palahniuk, sending emails to this website will not get you there. You should instead, take the more professional route of contacting his publicist at Doubleday.
  4. Does Chuck visit the site? Read the forums?
    I know that, on occasion, Chuck does visit the site because he's commented on certain elements of it in the past. But he prefers to avoid the forums, not being a big fan of gossip. So don't ever expect him to weigh in on a discussion or answer your post. Sorry to say that's never going to happen.
  5. Does Chuck have anything to do with the design or the content?
    No.  In the past, I've shown Chuck's templates and headers, but he never had any feedback for me and let it be known that he trusts us to run things on the site.
  6. Can I email Chuck through the site then?
    No you can not. This site is not a shortcut towards contacting Chuck. Chuck keeps his email and contact information very private and asks that I don't even forward important requests onto him.

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