Of all the writer’s minds I’d like to crawl inside of and investigate for a while, the mind of Christopher Moore would definitely be in my top ten. Probably my top three, actually. With his vivid imagination, exceptional storylines, exquisite characters, and wicked sense of humor, I doubt there’d ever be a moment that wasn’t good times.
I was so excited when Christopher told me he’d give me an interview that as soon as I sat down to form some questions, my mind went blank. There were so many things I wanted to ask him, and as nice of a person as he is, I didn’t he’d like being bombarded with a 150 question interview. My mentor, Kim Williams-Justesen is a huge fan, and in fact, is the one who turned me on to his books, so I enlisted her assistance with these questions.
Christopher Moore is the author of more than a dozen novels. His titles include (but are not limited to), A Dirty Job, The Stupidest Angel, Fool, and Practical Demonkeeping. His latest novel, Sacre Bleu, came out last spring. I’m about half through it and I absolutely love it. I’m also a huge fan of Bloodsucking Fiends, You Suck, and Bite Me. If I had to choose a favorite though, I’d have to go with Lamb. I’m not sure I’ve ever read another book that had me giggling like a ticklish schoolgirl for so many weeks after I’d read it… but no matter what book you pick up by Christopher Moore, I will personally guarantee you’ll love it. Unless you’re completely dead inside.
For more about Mr. Moore, visit him at: http://www.chrismoore.com/
Q: Where is the most interesting or unusual place you’ve ever done any writing?
A: In the main gallery of the Musee D’Orsay in Paris. I worked out much of one of the scenes in Sacré Bleu. Or, possibly, under a stairway in the Guam airport where I was “camping” my way through a 20 hour layover.
Q: In your memory, what is the first story you ever told, and what was it about?
A: I don’t know if I remember the first story. The first novel I ever wrote was when was in sixth grade and it was how I became king of the frogs and me and the frogs took over the planet. I think it was about 8 handwritten pages long.
Q: Are there any certain conditions that make it difficult or impossible for you to write?
A: A lot of impact-type noise- hammers and whatnot – or being on fire. Especially the latter.
Q: Do you do anything differently now than you did when you wrote your first book?
A: A lot. I wrote my first book longhand on spiral notebooks at the counter of a diner, without an outline or deadline. Now I have an office, a bunch of computers, a deadline, and more and more, an outline to work from. It makes a difference having done it a lot. Stuff I used ot really stress about are just autopilot now – like handling time and transitions.
Q: Why do so many of your characters cross over from one book to another?
A: Mainly because my readers like it and ask for it. It doesn’t make my job any easier, but the readers get a kick out of it.
Q: Do you exhibit the same sense of humor in your day-to-day life as you do in your writing?
A: I joke a lot, but obviously not in context. But if someone else is around, I’m usually cracking-wise.
Q: Where did Chet the enormous cat come from?
A: I was walking down Market Street in San Francisco when I saw a guy who had a sign that said “I am homeless and my cat is hungry,” but not only was his cat hungry, it was huge. HUGE. Like 30lbs. So I thought it would be fun to make him a character in the book, but his sign would say, “I am homeless and my cat is huge.” So I did.
Q: What do you like to do outside of writing?
A: Well, since I moved to San Francisco, I like to watch baseball. I still kayak a little up on the Russian River, something I started doing when I was researching Fluke. (I don’t ocean kayak much anymore, simply because I don’t have a vehicle that’s easy to move my boats with, so they live up on the river.) I’ve been painting with oils and acrylics for a couple of years, too, which I like a lot, but which I’m pretty lousy at.
Q: What makes you laugh out loud?
A: Eddie Izzard cracks me up. Some of the scenes in Modern Family. John Steward and Stephen Colbert can still crack me up. Russell Brand’s new show has made me laugh. I live a few blocks from a comedy club, so there’s some comics I go to see. Jake Johansen, Paula Poundstone, Todd Barry, come to mind.
Q: Do you have any books that have never been published?
A: Just that frog one, and I started a few that never got past chapter two, and probably shouldn’t have.
Q: What, in your opinion, is the single most important quality a writer must have to be good?
A: I’d like to say discipline, because that was a big thing for me. Probably “talent”, and I put it in quotes because I’m not sure what that entails. I know some writers who have crap discipline, and are still quite good, but I don’t know any that don’t have some innate talent. I’m not sure when, exactly, that manifests itself, but by the time I was 15 or so, I was a better writer than any of the kids I was going to school with. I can’t tell you why, other than I read a lot as a kid, and books were important in my house, but I didn’t consciously do anything to get good at that age. Soon after, yes, I tried to learn my craft as a pro, but early on, I don’t know.
Q: What is currently your top selection on your iPod or stereo?
A: Eric Satie’s Gymnopedia #1. It’s a piece I listened to all the while I was writing Sacre’ Bleu, and I have a whole playlist of instrumental music from that period (1890s), so when I’m writing, I still cue it up. As for more pop music, I’ve been listening to Train, sort of catching up, since I “met” their guitar player, Jim Stafford, on Twitter and he likes my books, so I thought it only fair. I’ve also dredged up a bunch of old Garbage albums, so I’ve been listening to them as well. I’m sort of discovering Jack Johnson, too. I’m usually out of the loop on new music by at least ten years.
Q: Which of your books are you most proud of and why?
A: Hmmm. Probably Lamb, because it was such a ridiculously ambitious project and I think I pulled it off. Sacre’ Bleu second, for the same reason.
Q: If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A: I’d love to be a painter or a musician. Maybe do stand up, although none of those things are just “I can do this because I want to. You have to work hard and be lucky to do them for a living.” I think I’d like to do marine mammal research, too, but again, I’m not sure I have the smarts to do that. Realistically, I’d probably be waiting tables if I wasn’t a writer.
Q: About how much do you write in a given year?
A: It’s hard to say, since one doesn’t count stuff like this as writing. So, about 3/4s of a book, or about 75,000 words of fiction. If I add all the sort of “stuff” I write, probably double that.
Q: Of your own characters, who is your favorite and why?
A: I really like my Fool, Pocket, because he’s so little, and almost always the weakest character in the scene, socially and physically, but he is always clever and irreverent and funny. He’s hard to write, but I like him a lot. I like my Goth girl Abby Normal for almost exactly the same reason, except she’s also cute, while Pocket is usually just borderline disgusting.
Q: What part of the writing process is most difficult for you?
A: Always the discipline. Making myself do the work and go back to it when it doesn’t work. You’d think it would get easier as time goes on, but it doesn’t. I didn’t have the internet to distract me on the first few books. The internet is a problem for writing discipline.
Q: What are your current goals for your writing?
A: I’d like to finish the new Shakespeare-based book I’m working on, then write another one. I mean, that’s always the goal — finish the next book. Always. I’d like to adapt Fool to the stage, I’d like to do an illustrated story, maybe a kids’ book, but the novel is always the most important thing.
Interview by Jared S. Anderson for JsaScribes