Reddit, Repercussions and Relatives - An Interview with David Thorne12:11 AM, December 29th, 2011
An interview with New York Times Best-selling author David Thorne, of www.27bslash6.com
By Alex H
Waiting for David Thorne to show up for an interview, at a seedy bar in downtown Toronto, the thought that he might not show up, as some form of prank, crossed my mind. Or worse, he might. Glancing at my wrist and wondering if I still had to time to leave before he arrived, I heard a deep Australian accent state "Sorry I'm late, a dingo stole my baby." I first wrote to Thorne over a year ago when I ordered his first book, The Internet is a Playground, and, along with around a hundred others, didn't receive my copy. After an exasperating delay due to delivery issues with Thornes's publisher, and a well documented run-in with one of Thorne's now ex-employees, my copy finally arrived four months later. Admittedly, it was worth the wait. Learning that Thorne was visiting Toronto this week for a snowboarding trip, I emailed him asking if he would be up for an interview for www.avbrand.com over a few drinks. He replied "Sounds good. As long as you are paying for them."
First off, congratulations on the success of your book and welcome to Canada.
Thank you Alex, same to you.
Thanks even though that doesn't make sense. How are you enjoying your visit and how long are you staying?
My partner and I are here for another week before heading off to spend New Years eve in New York. Canada is a lot more interesting than I was led to believe. It's kind of like a cross between Australia and the US. I once read on Reddit, after Canada had been called 'America's hat', something to the effect that if it is a hat, it is a surprisingly nice hat worn on the head of an obese and arrogant white woman in a gold-sequined tube top dress yelling 'Yeehaw, I'm the best". I also read somewhere that there was a contest to find the Canadian equivalent of "As American as apple pie" and the winning entry was "As Canadian as possible under the circumstances" which made me smile. I especially like all the snow here as there is a large absence of it in both Australia and Virginia where I am currently living.
Acting excited about snow in Canada is akin to holding a sign reading "Just visiting". Speaking of Reddit, there was quite a backlash last year over the non-delivery of your book and the posting of personal information. I myself had my name and address posted by an employee named Kimberley which was quite a surprise to say the least. How did this fiasco come about? Would you use the word fiasco?
Yes, I like the word Fiasco. It sounds festive. When I was first approached by a small Australian publisher to publish the book, I was fairly naive and failed to research the company or alternative options. When I ended the relationship with them due to non-payment of royalties, they stopped distribution and 116 orders were not sent out. As I was overseas at the time, I engaged Kim to deal with the missing book requests. After a couple of people stated they had still not received their book when she knew they had been sent, and following being told "I hope you get raped" by an individual calling himself Ozh, Kim kind of lost the plot and posted the orders publicly to show they had been sent. This did not go down well and as a result of the backlash, Kim resigned. In January of 2011, Penguin Publishing purchased the rights for the book, with additional new content, and all orders are fulfilled through their reputable distribution network.
There were reports that people tried to contact you in regards to missing orders and didn't receive a reply. I myself wrote several emails before receiving my copy. What efforts were made to get in touch with those who had been "left behind" so to speak?
I had little to do with distribution or missing orders until the Reddit situation. As my relationship with the dodgy distributor ended on bad terms, details of unfulfilled orders were not provided despite several requests. The problem with identifying the 116 missing orders from many thousands of fulfilled orders meant waiting for customers to contact us then cross referencing that information with online orders. With hindsight, I probably should have posted a notice of some form on the website but as the amount of missing orders was, I thought at the time, fairly small and easy to sort out, I passed the task onto Kim and left for the US. I was only made aware of the fact that Kim had posted personal details after a friend emailed me a link to the 'Let's kill David Thorne' Reddit posts. As I understand it, Kim was sent a link to a Facebook page where a few people were claiming they had not received their books and she posted images there showing the orders had been sent. Although the Facebook page she posted them on only had around twenty 'fans', she understood the implications of what she had done and resigned immediately once this information hit Reddit and fed its hive the temporary but contagious butthurt it thrives on. As she was only 17 and this was her first job out of school, she will probably require some kind of counseling for many years.
There are rumours that much of the 'Let's kill David Thorne' sentiment on Reddit was actually posted by your pseudonyms. Is there any truth to this? And are you interested in making peace with Reddit?
I did join in on the anti-David Thorne posts with several accounts and I am still very active on Reddit under several others, especially on certain subreddits. The clickclick account that was banned had one of my lowest karma numbers. Also, contrary to what many would assume, I was not the accounts posting on David Thorne's side but, rather, actively participating in the 'Let's kill David Thorne' sentiments. Comrades and factions were made and the posts managed to stay on the front page for four days. Contagious butthurt resulted in website traffic being around eighty times normal and more books being sold in that four days than I had the previous two months. Seagulls and chips. A short time later the book made the New York Times best seller list.
In Fiction or Non-Fiction? Another recurring rumour on Reddit is that some of the content on your website is fabricated. Is there any truth to this? And what about the rumours that you used the extra money from selling books and then not shipping them to go on a McDonalds binge?
The book debuted at number four on the NYT list under Non-Fiction. The majority of those claiming the email correspondences are fiction are those most annoyed that I have posted them. Also, once one cries fake, others are fairly quick to declare "Oh yes, mine is fake too." I have, on occasion, taken some creative license in regards to formatting but for the most part the emails are verbatim. Having said that, I do correct my own spelling and punctuation, as is my prerogative, prior to posting. The articles wouldn't be amusing to read or enjoyable to write if they were fabricated. Even when the articles are not email based, such as the recent cartoon featuring Brian Sendelbach, are based entirely on factual events. And I wish the rumours about McDonald's were true. I actually had to purchase and ship the replacement books at full price. It was an expensive lesson but one I won't forget. The book was originally only created in an attempt to cover increasingly expensive hosting fees but instead ended up costing thousands in replacements and around forty thousand in unreceived royalties. My background is in design, not writing, and my limited experience with the publishing industry was held up for display at that time. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and it was only when I began working with the people at Penguin that I realised not everyone in the publishing industry is an asshat.
Was the design company you worked for in Australia with Shannon and Thomas real? You posted some fairly insensitive material about Thomas, if he was the boss, why didn't he fire you? Surely he knew about the site?
I worked for de Masi jones for several years as Design Director and was responsible for clients such as Bridgestone, McDonald's and Dr Lewinn's. It was only a few years ago that I woke up one morning and realised I hated the design industry, or at least the pretension that comes with it. I started wearing cargos and t-shirts to work instead of suits and stopped caring about timelines, deadlines and borderlines. Perhaps surprisingly, some of my best branding work was done during that time but regardless, I was pretty much ingrained in the company by that time. Thomas only found out about the articles featuring him after I had left that agency and the book features my resignation email correspondence with him. Shannon didn't speak to me again after finding out about the Missing Missy article being posted which was a positive outcome.
On that subject, did Shannon ever find Missy?
Missy turned up that evening in a neighbour's front hedge. It was actually about the fifth time she had gone missing.
Apart from staff not speaking to you, have there been real repercussions to posting this kind of material on your website? I have noticed that there are quite a few articles in the book that not on the website and I've also noticed that quite a few of the articles you post online are removed, often within days. Why is this?
There is always the chance of repercussions with posting certain articles. Usually these are just in the form of a legal request but often removal of articles is at the request of the person featured. These articles may resurface, in book form, with the photo and name slightly tweaked, but the originals are not hard to find online. Some people I know have been more annoyed that there wasn't an article written about them so I have done so. Also, generally, the email exchanges are more popular than the articles. If I post articles, the audience says "boo, we want more email exchanges" and if I post an email exchange they say "oh, another email exchange". The audience is a fussy and hypocritical bitch. In regards to real repercussions, I have had people turn up at my door and I had to spend three days in a jail cell after being arrested over the McDonald's hoax. Three days without nicotine or a decent coffee was quite a horrifying repercussion.
One of the recent articles that was removed was between yourself and a relative named Chris Gould who seems to have developed quite an obsession with you. Is there a history to his unusual behaviour?
Chris Gould is a distant relative and kind of an embarrassment to the family. I rarely give him a second thought but for some reason he has become, as you say, obsessed to the point where it has become an illness. I do not really understand where his jealousy stems from as I have helped him out several times in the past. I guess the success of the website and book, in contrast to his position in life, gave him a direction for his resentment. It is easier to undermine others than to raise yourself to a level that you are content in life with. Common human behaviour I suppose but quite exaggerated. When the book made the New York Times list, it seemed to drive him over the edge and his obsession grew from leaving inane comments in forums about me to threats against my son and partner. The last time I saw him was several years ago when he needed a place to stay for a few weeks. Leaving work early one afternoon, I walked into my house to discover him dressed in women's lingerie, mounted on the handle of a plumber's toilet plunger suctioned securely to the floor. He looked like a huge albino frog lollipop. A K-Mart brochure lay open between his knees advertising children's swimwear. For a moment we both froze in surprise then, as he leapt up, the plunger handle exited and, like a trebuchet, flung a combination of butter and faeces across the kitchen cabinets. The last thing he said to me, as he packed and left for mum's house, was "I will stab you in the face if you tell anyone" and "Nobody likes you." True story.
I need another drink after that. Every family has one. In contrast to repercussions, have you experienced any benefits from the website in regards to projects, contacts and opportunities?
I was actually lucky enough to meet Chris Lilley a few years ago at a function but it was just for a quick photo and I mumbled something embarrassing to him about his shoes. The worst part was that when I checked the photo afterwards, my head and half of Lilley's face was cut off. I was pretty cross about that. Project-wise, I did sign a contract earlier this year for a television series based on the website. It is set in a design agency, appropriately at the address 27B/6, and is meant to be a cross between The Office and The Inbetweeners. I received the first scripts and they were the worst drivel I have ever read. Really bad. They have signed on Dean Craig, the guy who wrote death at a funeral, to rewrite the eight episodes and I am meant to be collaborating with him but I am far too lazy to do that so will just see what he comes up with and then complain. It has been an interesting process and I got to meet actor Jason Bateman who has signed on to play 'David Thorne'. I was a fan of the series Arrested Development so this was pretty much the highlight of the whole thing for me. Many of the 'joint projects' I am introduced to never happen or happen very slowly which seems to be the norm in the US.
What projects are you involved in at the moment and what can we expect next from 27bslash6?
At the moment I am finishing up a novel that I hope to have to my publisher by February 2012. It is a slightly different genre to my existing material so it will be interesting to see how it is received but I have enjoyed writing it and my son says it is funny. He is usually a pretty good measure for these things.
I look forward to reading it, what genre is it?
Science fiction humour. Kind of a Lord of the Flies in space. With robots, heavy machinery, and very bad children.
You can buy David Thorne's book here: The Internet is a Playground. I guarantee you it will arrive.
UPDATE If you have trouble receiving your book, please use the 'Contact' link above and I will help you out by putting you in direct contact with David's people.
interesting interview with a grown man who has made his wealth and fame by being an arrogant dick.
quite funny but really just spreading around much of the things wrong with humanity.
The book gets repetitive and tiresome quickly too, unfortunately. You've read all the funny stuff online already, and the filler doesn't rise to the standard set by the less-obviously scripted exchanges.
It makes taking a shit fun though.
Jason Bateman playing David Thorne? Oh god, let me die. SAY IT'S TRUE!
I disagree with Aaron. The book has heaps more funny stuff in it than on the website and without the filler (which I found hilarious) the book is still around 300 pages long. + I like the extra email exchanges in the book coz it ties in with the people in the stories and makes it more of a sequence of events rather than reading just various articles on his site.
I got the internet is a playground by david thorne for christmas and it is hilarious. My dad never laughs at anything but he was crying reading it.
I seriously pictured david thorne as jason bateman without realizing it lol
What a funny article. David Thorne has not dealt with this problem of undelivered books at all and still refuses to.
In fact, after stealing my money and trying to pass me off to his newly hired 17 year old (bless her) I have never heard from him again and he's in fact blocked me on twitter as he was not answering my questions about non delivery and refunds.
In some cases it would be easier to swallow his pride and just send out the books. Follow him here and tweet him all you want but in my mind the guys not worth breath he breaths @27bslash6
@Paul Lewis, You probably got blocked for tweeting him insults. I would have done the same.
Not sure what the issue was way back in 2010 but he is signed with Penguin now. They are like the largest publisher on the planet.
I ordered the new book on Amazon and it arrived in 2 days. My sister ordered a copy too but from Barnes and Noble and it arrived in 3 days and cost about $1 more.
@StevenLarson - Blocked for stating the truth that he has stolen my money and never delivered my book tweeting asking for him to reply to me with some answers?
Great that you're sorted though. Maybe you could just photocopy me the pages and email. More than I'll get back from Mr Thorne.
The fact of the matter is that there are still people out there that have had money taken off them and never had their purchase delivered. David should not forget about these people no matter how hard he thinks it is to fix.
If you'd read the article, you might realise that the Aussie publisher is the responsible party. David clearly did a lot to fix the undelivered books issue (including buying his own book at the retail cost and sending it to people). He also missed out on the royalties.
If you have a gripe, it is with the original publisher.
What you are doing is the equivalent to complaining to an author when your Amazon book order doesn't arrive on time.
"The aussie publisher is the responsible party" Ha! The money was paid directly to David Thorne through his PayPal account. He is responsible for dealing with the customers - he took the money and refused to supply the book.
Sorry David but we're all still waiting on our book or refund, you fungdark. If you were to answer our emails it might be more believable that you were the victim in this scam. Check the Thorne Book Scam facebook page.
David Thorne is a pathological liar. His comments about Chris, his brother, (not a distant relative, but his actual brother) are dishonest and totally ridiculous. People who interview him and allow him to trot out this crazy bullshit should think twice. He is a disease.
I ordered this book in May/June 2010 and have not received it to this day. I still have the paypal receipt that was requested whenever Kimmie bothered replying with her copy/paste ... but no book.
David Thorne is nothing more than a pathological liar. 116 people and counting ...
@ Ajmay, my cash went directly to David Thorne's paypal account. No publisher was involved. Nothing but a scam.
Therein lies HIS lies.
Just came across this article. Fiasco? FIASCO?? Try "brazen fraud" for a much more accurate description. Claims that it is all sorted out are just more lies from a compulsive liar and cheat. I ordered directly off his web site and my cash also disappeared into the black hole known as DT's paypal account. So much for supporting struggling Aussie authors ...
If you have trouble receiving your order from David Thorne, please contact me with the "Contact" button above and I give you David's email address so you may contact him directly with your problem.
My girlfriend was also ripped off by this guy. She sent him loads of emails but none were answered, even when she included payment details. She paid into his PayPal account and got nothing. He's a lying douche in my opinion.
Ordered my copy of his book through Amazon and it was delivered the next day.