“I Just Wanted To Write Young Adult Romance,” By Steve Bannon
I know you think I have everything I want. That I’m in my office laughing while DT shuts down the border and picks Twitter fights, because all of this is part of some master plan I have. Listen, my plan — my real plan — didn’t work out. Sure it’s nice to be able to pick up the phone and threaten to launch missiles at people I don’t like. But this is not how it should be. It’s not really who I am.
The story you need to know started in 2005. I was sitting in the Marriott airport hotel in Houston with Alex Jones. We’d been up for 96 hours straight, and I wanted to tell him to take a goddamned shower already, because he had a smell wafting off his body that didn’t seem like it should come from a mammal. I’m serious. Don’t buy those supplements from that guy. He is not healthy. At this point Jones was my partner on a project that had taken us a year. We’d been swapping emails, phone calls, and meeting like this. We’d had screaming fights, broken up, gotten back, broken up again… and all this drama was coming together that day, because the two of us had managed to write an inventive and delicate story about a 16 year-old young lady named Calliope “Calli” Skylar who encounters a beautiful and tragic vampire named Terrance Warding on a Cape Cod beach house one magical summer. Tender Gloaming was a story about awakening love, about loss, and the about the choices we all make to care for people and to let others care for us.
“We’re going to be rolling in dead hooker money!” Alex kept saying that while we sat at the table, not paying attention to the TV, staring at his phone lying between us on the table and waiting for it to ring. We’d put together the last edits of some sample chapters, and the agent was in New York having lunch with a guy from Little, Brown. Alex was so worked up his shirt was pitted out, and his sweat actually started to smell like — I’m serious, here — cherry soda. I know you think that might be pleasant. But you do not want a version of it coming out of that man’s pores. I was getting sick of him by then. But we were in this thing together. Then the agent called and killed our dream. “They just don’t think a vampire romance will do well in the market,” he said. “The writing’s fine, but this isn’t going to be the franchise they’re looking for.” Alex cursed and yelled, getting incoherent. He threw the phone across the room. The person has a real anger problem. But in the end we just shrugged it off. If the book wasn’t a seller, it wasn’t a seller. You have to trust the people you work with, right?
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight came out a month later. The agent didn’t take our calls.
Alex and I didn’t see each other for a long time. But one day I ran into him while we were both in a mall security office. I’d passed out in a Dave & Busters, and he’d got into a fight at the food court over whether they were putting estrogen into some chicken nuggets. We had awhile to wait together before the cops came. At first we didn’t speak; we didn’t even look at each other. I just hunched over a wastebasket on the floor in case my stomach gave up. Alex sat on a bench with his back to the wall making little high-pitched whispery noises, like he was receiving transmissions. And then all of a sudden he said it, just like we’d been planning the thing together. “She’s in love with one guy — always has been — but another guy saves her life.” “Ok,” I said cautiously. “And the three of them are all fighting some evil government in a dark futuristic world.” “What do you mean evil?” “It poisons everyone’s water with fluoride and other behavior-modifying chemicals.” “Would you stop talking about that shit, Alex?” I asked. “Fine,” he said, “The government makes people fight to the death in televised contests.” We worked on it for more than a year. We shopped it to more than a hundred agents and editors. Everyone told us we were fools to try to mix sci-fi dystopia with teen romance. Our last meeting, and rejection, was in 2008. I don’t need to tell you what happened. You’re probably not even surprised that our next project was a book about a guy fighting his way through a bizarre maze — and that someone at Simon & Schuster laughed at us during a pitch. And the one we wrote about the society that divides people up according to their genetics? Alex and I abandoned that before we even got a draft together. We knew what would happen. We knew we were powerless to change it. “I’m just going back to my Joe Biden fanfic,” Alex told me on the phone later. He’d built up about five thousand followers with his erotically-charged noir about the vice president. He wrote under the pen name ChunkyReb64. He couldn’t sell it, but he didn’t care. “It’s what I was meant to do,” he said, and hung up.
But I couldn’t do what I was meant to do. That was the problem. I always felt like I was called to capture the tender and complicated beauty of young adult romance against a background of fantasy, and to use that to express some kind of inner truth about the real Steve Bannon.
I’m Katniss Everdeen, okay? But there’s no Peeta coming to save me. Instead the one thing I loved to do ended up betraying me and making me bitter and hollow. I didn’t care about honesty anymore, or real uncompromising love, or stolen kisses, or gentleness. I wanted to burn down everything good and decent and pure and replace it with the darkness that I felt. Then the head of Breitbart died. They offered me his job. I’d been working on that site before, of course. But now I had control. So I started using it to tell a different kind of fantasy — only now I aimed at the market for old, sad white guys and freaks on 4chan who are into Nazism and anime (You didn’t know there’s an overlap? I envy you). I wrote nihilist, angry, racist, sexually perverted bullshit, and it was the best, most popular stuff of my career. My biggest fan on the forums was Queensguy756, and he offered me a job, and now we run the entire country. I upended the US political system. People around the world are afraid of me and my army of internet trolls. And when this is over I’m either going to buy my own island or end all human life. But the only thing I really want to do is write stories about the feeling you get when you first meet your soulmate, and the two of you fight the odds to stay together. Don’t worry about me. I’m dead inside. I died a long time ago. But unlike Edward, I do not have the ability to glitter.
TRUMP TALES OF TERROR is about ugly creatures, murderous fantasies, and apocalyptic worlds — and they’re right in America. YOU CAN BUY IT HERE.
Originally published at paulbibeau.blogspot.com on February 28, 2017.