'Phoenix,' An Amazon Kindle Single By Chuck Palahniuk
Update: Since Friday, 'Phoenix' has shot up Amazon's sales rank from around #27,000 to #278. It's now #3 in the Kindle Single Fiction category. Thank you all for reading!
Update: You can also now purchase 'Phoenix' on Amazon CA and UK here.
In all the excitement last week- with the announcement of three new books in thee years- something just as cool got lost in the shuffle. Chuck Palahniuk has gone and written a Kindle Single!
If you don't know what Kindle Singles are, they're basically long form short stories and novellas in eBook format that Amazon publishes. They're perfect for an author like Chuck who, when he's not prolifically writing new novels, is experimenting with short stories which he reads on tour, publishes with magazines like Playboy and then (if we're lucky), later releases in collections.
But recently, he wrote something which broke that format a little. 'Phoenix' is an abnormal short story for Chuck in that, it's 32 pages long and is written in the third person. That's perhaps longer than most shorts and shorter than most novellas. In "short," it was perfect for the Kindle Single program. But I was curious about its backstory, so I emailed Chuck to get more, and here's what he had to say:
Ah, "Phoenix" ... I've been working on stories told in third-person, longer stories that would be impossible to read on tour. Last October the editor Amy Lloyd Grace asked me to write a Halloween-themed piece for the on-line subscription service Byliner. I'd worked with Amy at Playboy. She editted "Romance" among other things, and her advice always made me a better writer. For years I'd been collecting stories about cats, and this summer -- yes, when I met you for dinner -- a publicist in L.A. told me the perfect cat anecdote. Suddenly all my cat anecdotes fit together beautifully, like the anecdotes that merged to create "Guts."
Byliner liked the story so much that they didn't want to rush it to market. Instead, Amy and I worked on it for a few months, and the tortured-marriage aspect of it made it appropriate for a Valentine's Day launch.
To write it, I had to jettison my punk rock aesthetic. Instead of starting loud and fast, I start slower and quieter, but build to something more awful.
To be honest, part of my recent stress is caused by the concentration required to write these longer -- 30 to 60 page -- stories. They're almost novellas. That, and switching to third-person has eaten up all of my time and attention for months. It's as if I'm back in school, starting to write from scratch, and Amy's been drilling me to shed my old, comfortable writing tics.
"Phoenix" is a weird one. It's so cruel, but there are a couple big laughs which occur at some of the most upsetting moments. In that way it's very similar to "Guts."
Thank you for shining some light on it. I've been so nervous about it that I didn't want to jinx it by talking about it.
I love that Chuck was actually nervous about this. The story launched on Valentine's Day and on Friday, it was sitting at an Amazon sales rank of #27,000. At the time of my typing this, it's close to breaking into #1,000 and it's already ranked #6 in Amazon's eBook Short Fiction category.
And Barnes & Noble has it too if you have a Nook.
If you want a little taste first, Byliner has an excerpt from the story here.
Chuck sent another reply shortly after where he said he wants to write a story-behind-the-story feature on how 'Phoenix' came to be. So look for that soon.
In the meantime, get 'Phoenix' here, and if you don't have an eReader of any sort, you can download Amazon Kindle as an app for your PC or Mac and read it from your computer that way. It's easy. And worth your time.