Preisler gained underground fame after publishing his first book Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture in the early 1980s. He says that he got the nickname "Uncle Fester" from his college years, since he was very well known for producing explosives, and blowing things up, like the character in The Addams Family.
Preisler is an industrial chemist working in an electroplating factory he calls "the rat hole." In his spare time, he writes books. Preisler graduated in 1981 from Marquette University with a Chemistry & Biology degree. Two years later, he was arrested for methamphetamine possession and was sentenced to probation. He was arrested again in 1984 for methamphetamine charges, and put in the Waupun Correctional Institution. He says that the arrest was over a few grams of methamphetamine, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) brought back credit card information saying that he had been buying large quantities of ephedrine, which is a precursor for methamphetamine.
Outraged, Fester borrowed a typewriter from a fellow inmate, and began writing the manuscript for Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture. Loompanics Unlimited published the book, and it was an instant success. Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture is now in its eighth edition. It was one of Loompanics' best sellers. The book has information on how to produce crystal methamphetamine through six different methods. It also has data on how to synthesize MDMA or MDA, and how to synthesize methcathinone by oxidation of ephedrine. It also contains syntheses for precursor materials such as phenylacetone, ephedrine, methylamine, and alkyl nitrites. Previous editions of Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture have had some criticism: see for example Eleusis v. Fester for discussion between Fester and the past MDMA clandestine chemist Eleusis/Zwitterion.