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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

#31 Christopher Moore

 Twenty Questions with Mourning Goats
Chris Moore is one of the most impressive authors I've interviewed for the site. It's not because of how fast he got the questions back to me (less than 4 hours), it's not that he agreed to an interview with a small interview site over Facebook, and it's not because he's probably sold more books than most of us could ever dream of selling. It's because he's done all of that, and he's done it with class. A big thank you goes out to Chris and we wish him nothing but the best. I hope you all enjoy interview thirty-one!

1. What comes to mind when you hear, "Mourning Goats?"

Billy Goats Gruff 

2. It looks like you're doing a huge tour in 2012, what are you most excited about? Do you enjoy touring? 

I do like touring. The travel is hard, but I like meeting and talking to readers. I'm not excited about any particular thing. I do have an event at the Dallas Museum of Fine Art, which will be a first for me, so that will be cool. 

3. What do you owe your success to?

Owning what I do and continuing to do it. That is, I commit to an idea for a book and then see it through, regardless of how "unsafe" in might seem, or how unlikely it might seem as a subject for comedy.   

4. Research seems to be very important in your novels, where do you go for most of your research?

It depends on what I'm writing about. If I'm writing about Paris, Paris. Medieval England, England. Israel, Israel. It always adds dimension to a book to go to the place where it takes place, if the events were hundreds or even thousands of years ago.  

5. You split your time between two of the most beautiful places in the country, Hawaii and California. How do you get the motivation to lock yourself in a room and write? 
Well, I'm in San Francisco almost full-time now. It's tough, to be honest. But it's what I do. It's no easier for people to go to their jobs, I don't think.  

6. Has writing become easier for you over the years or harder, why?

The discipline of it has become harder because there are more demands on my time. That said, I have a lot more experience, so I don't have to agonize on how to resolve a scene or write a transition because I've handled so many story elements before. Overall, I think it balances out.  

7. Have you ever considered returning to Melancholy Cove?

I don't have a plan to do that, but I didn't have a plan to do that when I wrote the second and third book that were set there. It could happen.  

8. How do you feel about the place of satirical and humorous fiction? Do you think they're overlooked by the literary establishment?

I do. I'm not militant about it, but it pisses me off that largely un-funny literary fiction will get much more attention than funny fiction, but, that said, there's not a lot of funny fiction.  

9. Most if not all of your books have been optioned for films. Have you heard anything about any of them going into production?

The Stupidest Angel is supposed to start filming in April of this year. I'm not going to say for sure. We've been this close before with that one. There's a good script for A Dirty Job, but no production schedule that I know of. The other ones are still in the script development stage as far as I know.  

10. What's it like being compared to such heavy hitters as Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams? 

It's flattering. I loved those guys' work. I was inspired by it.  

11. In most interviews you bring up Cannery Row, what about it has made you return to it any time you're lost on a project?

The narrative voice. It's a very sweet voice that is forgiving toward the characters. When you write satire, it's pretty easy to start sounding bitter, so going to that gentler tone can bring the characters out and bring the reader in.  

12. You used to live in a pretty remote area of California, with the closest bookstore being 40 miles out, have you jumped on the e-reader bandwagon as a way to easily get books to read? 

I live in San Francisco. Have for almost six years. But yes, I have an e-reader, but I prefer real books. The reader is mostly for travel. 

13. What are your thoughts on going to school for writing, at both the undergrad and graduate level? Can being a story-teller be taught?

I think it can. There are some successful writers who really swear by getting an MFA in creative writing, . Others, like myself, are mostly self-taught. I think much of how much you learn is going to be how good your teachers are and what your goals are.  

14. With tax season right around the corner, how awesome is it putting your travel, research, etc. as deductibles? Has this ever made you want to write a book about a specific area/time?

No, I've never written a book for tax reasons. I have written books because I wanted to go certain places and do certain things. Island of the Sequined Love Nun, Fluke, and my new one, Sacre Bleu, were based around subjects and locations that I wanted to learn about and travel to. Others, like Fool and Lamb, were more about the source material and subject matter, even though there was some travel involved in the research.  

15. What do you think about writing groups? Have you ever been a part of one?

I have. They can be extraordinarily helpful and can actually help your writing get better. I have belonged to writing groups and gone to conferences and workshops and over all, they were helpful experiences.  

16. You have over 93,000 "likes" on facebook, are you excited about breaking 100,000? What do you think facebook has done for publishing?

I'm not quite sure yet. It's moving so fast. I had about 30,000 when I tour last time, yet all of my events were huge compared to a couple of years ago. So, as far as people who are interested in my books being aware of my tour, Facebook has been huge. As far as books sales, I'm just not sure yet. We'll see, I guess. I do look forward to hitting 100,000, but I'm not sure it's a magical number or anything. 

17. Writing satire seems to have been an accident, can you tell us how you started in this field?

I took my horror stories to a writers' conference and read them in workshops and people laughed at them, so I thought, "Oh, this is what I do." It just turned out I had a talent for writing funny stuff, yet I really wanted to write horror, so I sort of did both. Since the first book, though, I've gone pretty far afield from horror, but there's always something supernatural in my books. I'm not sure that what I do is satire. I think satire pokes fun at a convention of the genre or at some societal element, and often my stuff is just straight comedy, without a subtext of message.  

18. How did you get a blurb from Nicholas Sparks?

I met Nick at a bookseller's convention in Oakland when his first book was about to come out. I think it was one of his first signings and he was a little nervous. I was an old hand but that time, with my third book coming out, so as we were getting ready to sign, we started talking and I tried to be encouraging. Our agents worked in the same building, so at a later date, after Nicholas Sparks had become a household name, my agent asked him to blurb one of my books and he remembered our conversation and complied. He also chose me to go to the Today Show Book Club, as his choice, which was extraordinarily generous of him. I haven't kept in contact with him, but he's always been a very nice guy and very generous toward me. 

19. Is it true that whales have prehensile penises?

Some of them do, yes.  

20. What's next for Christopher Moore?

I'll tour in April for Sacre Bleu, and I'm working on a new book based on Shakespeare's work, like my book Fool.

Thank you!


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  1. Classy dude. Fool was such a good book. Seems humble regardless of his success.

  2. My mother gave us a copy of the Stupidest Angel, and it proceeded to languish on my bookshelf for quite a while. This was mostly because my mother (whom I love) has an unfortunate attraction to really bad romances, and she told me it was a romance when she gave it to me. We pulled it out when we needed a read-aloud book for a car trip (I drive, hubby reads). Fell in love and started looking for more of Christopher Moore's books. My favorite at this point is Lamb, but that is subject to change depending on what I've read most recently!

    We now know that reading one of Moore's books aloud on a car trip is not always wise--paroxysms of laughter are not conducive to attentive driving!

  3. Nice interview, I just LOVE Christopher Moore... I saw his book "Stupidest Angel" in Empik one day and back than I'd been interested in angels so... I took it. And what a surprise it was to read it! After it I read all books available in my country and made about 10 people read some and fell in love with his writing :D