Moonlit Path’s Interview with Christopher Moore

by Carlos R Savournin

Christopher Moore is best known for comedic writing; his novels are hysterical and his characters are psychotically real. But Christopher Moore has done something that many writers attempt and fail; he mixes his humor with horror, and he does it so successfully, you can’t help but continue reading his work.

The Stupidest Angel has received many great reviews, and it is this book that I wanted to speak with Christopher Moore about. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule for an interview with us – and to give us some valuable insight on writing

Moonlit Path: The Stupidest Angel is a dark, humorous Christmas story. What inspired you to write it?

Christopher Moore: It was suggested by one of the national sales reps at Harper Collins who is a huge fan of my work. He thought I could twist Christmas up a little and I thought it would be fun to try.

MP: Was the 2.0 of version 2.0 a chapter that was originally edited or did it come to you as an afterthought? What was the purpose in the addition?

CM: I wrote the bonus chapter long after the first part had come out. It was decided that we would release the hardcover at a very low price, but then not put out a paperback – just release it each Christmas in hardcover, so I wanted the book to look different and people to get something more if they bought the hardcover again.

MP: As writers, we all know what it takes to create 3 dimensional characters – basically rip off people we know. How many of your characters are based on people in your life?

CM: Many. Most of the time they are composites of people, or they just have certain aspects of people. For instance, Lena Marquez, in Stupidest Angel, is based on a Hispanic woman I knew [who] was a Salvation Army Santa at Christmas time, but she was in her 70s – while Lena is a sexy late 30s woman. It was the attitude that I used from my acquaintance. Most real people are interesting enough for good characters. Sometimes you have to stitch together parts of four or five real people to get a good creation.

MP: You’ve written quite a few books that contain everything from mythical creatures to Christ’s childhood friend. A common theme in all of your books is the humor that horror evokes, but have you ever considered writing an all out horror?

CM: I don’t think I’m capable of it. I’ve actually tried it in the past, and invariably I end up being goofy. I guess it works, that’s why people are buying my books.

MP: What’s coming next?

CM: My next book is out in April. A Dirty Job is about a neurotic single father who owns a thrift store in San Francisco and gets the job of being Death. Right now I’m writing the sequel to my vampire novel, Bloodsucking Fiends. I don’t know when it will be out.

MP: How did you come into writing? After having jobs as a waiter, insurance clerk, photographer, and disc jockey (am I missing any?), what made you stick with writing?

CM: I was better at it than anything else I’d done. I’d wanted to write for a living from the time I was sixteen, I just didn’t think I could make that happen, so I did other things to pay the rent. I was in my mid twenties before I changed the focus of my life to really trying to be a professional writer, and it was eight years after that before I sold a book.

MP: How do you prepare for a current project?

CM: I read everything I can get my hands on about the subject I’m writing about, then, if it has a setting I’m unfamiliar with, I’ll go spend some time there. I usually set a time when I have to start writing the actual book, and I try to have most of my research done by that date.

MP: You’ve said before that it normally takes about 12 months to finish a novel. Is this from conception to final product?

CM: No. It’s usually several years from the time I come up with an idea to the time I sit down to write it. On average it takes me about six months to research a book, then the actual writing takes about a year. I’ve done them in much less (Stupidest Angel- 4 months), and I’ve taken much longer (Lamb – 2 years), but the average is a year.

MP: Who do you look up to as a writer?

CM: Steinbeck. Vonnegut. Twain. Shakespeare.

MP: Do you have any advice for starving writers?

CM: Don’t starve. Even if you are able to make a living writing at some point, you will always be striving for balance – that is, to have a life and to get your writing done. I wrote my first book at a time when I was working four different jobs. Granted,they were part time, but I only had one shift a week off, yet I got the book done by writing two hours a day. Before that I’d been telling myself that I needed more time, more money, more space. I didn’t. I just needed to do the work, and I needed to feed myself as well. I wrote my first book at the counter in a diner, because the place where I was living was so small I didn’t have room for a desk or table to work at. But I was doing work, waiting tables and stuff, and doing it well. I didn’t diminish the importance of my “day job” because that’s what was feeding me. It’s important to do something for money that doesn’t make you so miserable that you can’t do your work. I liked waiting tables. I’d made a lot more money as an insurance broker, but it sucked the life out of me and I never wrote. I’d done other, more physical jobs, but they beat me up so much that I wasn’t able to do my work because I was too tired. So my advice is to do the work and try, just try, for some balance. (By the way, I’m fifteen years into writing for a living and I’m still trying for balance.)

We’d like to thank Mr. Moore for taking the time to answer our questions. For more information on Christopher Moore or where you can purchase his books, check out his website at www.chrismoore.com.

© Savournin, 2006