Exclusive interview with Christopher Moore: Author of Practical Demonkeeping, Coyote Blue, Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove. Chris’s new book is finished – LAMB, the Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, will be released early in 2002, probably on Groundhog’s day. Chris will tour then, but there are no set dates yet.
Film rights have been acquired for Practical Demonkeeping and Lust Lizard, also Chris is currently collaborating on the production of Coyote Blue, great to see one in the pipeline! Details can be found on the official Chris Moore web site. Meanwhile, Chris kindly took time out to answer ‘probing’ bookhaunter questions <G>.
|Ishie wants to know if you do parties and if you’ll be her man slave?||Absolutely.|
|Sheila – What are your favorite hobbies when you are not writing?|| Well, I like to read novels, but I like to scuba dive, work out at the gym,
eat pizza, and I’m learning to sea kayak (so far it’s a lot more like
falling out of a boat, but I’ll probably figure it out.)
|Ishie and Kelly want to know if the hobbies can include them?
|Jeff and I want to know if you’ll come back to Columbus when the next book is released?|| Can’t do it. Much as I’d love to. I don’t even have family in Ohio to stay
with anymore. You guys will just have to meet me in some other city.
Preferably one where they have heard of books.
|What can you tell us about the new book?|| Very simply, it’s the story of the thirty or so years of Christ’s life that
the Bible doesn’t cover as told by his best pal Biff. You’ll follow these
guys from age six to their early thirties, as Joshua (Jesus) learns to be
the Messiah and Biff learns, well, Biff learns Kung Fu and the Kama Sutra. It’s long (540pp in manuscript), written in the first person, and I think, very
|What kind of research did you do for this one?|| I’ve read about a hundred books on the historical Jesus, first century
Israel, the Roman Empire, as well as studying Taoism, Feng Shui (how the
hell do you spell that?) Buddhism, Hinduism and some serious old time Judaism. I also spent a couple of weeks in Israel pretending to be Canadian and looking at rocks and ruined buildings. (Canadians are worthless as hostages, eh?)
|Do you have any funny stories to share?|| Well, in the midst of the research I sort of become an expert on things
Biblical, at least until the book was finished. I took a bus tour through
Israel (which is the only way to see Israel) and I was seated to one of the
few single travelers on the bus, a Canadian minister who had lost his wife a
year before and had sort of given up his will to live. Aside from having
long talks with this guy, where he got sort of angry that I knew more about the historical life of Jesus than he did, we got along okay. At least until one
day, when I asked the tour guide if we were going to a Palestinian area that morning. “Yes,” she said.
I turned to the reverend and said, “I wonder if we should worry about people shooting at the bus with AK-47s.”
“Doesn’t matter to me,” said the reverend. “I’m ready to go and I can’t
think of a better place to go than in the land where Jesus walked.”
“Well you can sit by the window, then, I said.”
And for the rest of the tour, whenever we were in Palestinian
neighborhoods, Reverend Bob got to sit by the window.
|What kind of books do you enjoy reading?||I’m reading a lot of non-fiction these days, a lot of my-life-in-showbiz stuff. I’m also writing a screenplay bio of a deceased (and, alas, must remain unnamed, the biz being what it is) jazz musician. It’s kind of fun poking around in someone’s past.|
|When will it be released?||Probably February 2002, because that’s such a lovely time to tour.|
|Do you maintain your website, http://www.chrismoore.com?|| I don’t maintain it, but I do produce all of the content. A guy named Ken
Fricklas, who is started as a reader and has turned out to be a friend keeps the site up for me.
|Do you use the internet for research, promotion or both?|| Both. I use it an awful lot now for research. Especially for little items,
like, “what do you call that pokey-outey thing on the front of a sailboat?”.
In the past I’d bluff, but now I got to the web and look things like that
up. With the most recent book I needed to name some Roman characters. I found ring of web sites for Roman reenactment societies (who knew they existed). These guys not only knew the names of all of the Roman military equipment, but they made it and wore it around on weekends. They also had a site that told you how to choose your Roman name, and that was an invaluable tool. That sort of thing would have taken me days to find before the web. As for promotion, well, I do stuff like this, but I’ll be sending out more e-mails to readers as soon as I have something to say. Right now, it’s sort of, “Hi, it’s Chris, it’s another year before the book comes out.” And my readers are going, “Chris who?”
|Any chance of a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends? <insert whine here>|| Actually I’m seriously considering doing a sequel to Fiends and publishing
it originally on the web — it’s just been too long between books, and I don’t think that Fiends 2 is going to be a big second market book.
|If your characters could walk off the page, which one would be most like Christopher Moore and which one would be your dream woman?||Hmmmm, my characters have gotten a lot less autobiographical over the years, but Tommy in Fiends was definitely like me, at least when I was that age. And having said that, I like Jody as much as any character I’ve ever done. If I could hang out with Jody and Roberto the fruit bat I don’t think I’d be at a loss for entertainment.|
|How do you write? Do you follow an outline closely or do the characters take over?|| That depends. The last couple of books I’ve gotten behind, so it was
necessary to outline the last third of the book and follow it closely. I’d
prefer to let the characters make most of the story up, but with deadlines,
that’s just not as practical as it once was. Now I have to submit a sort of
outline to the publisher before I proceed with the book, and I don’t like
I’m facing that prospect right now, and I’m not particularly happy about it.
I’d rather be writing the book itself, from beginning to end, than sweating
what some character in chapter seven will be like. It’s no one’s fault, it’s
just the way the business works.
|Your books always bring a smile to my face and many laugh out loud
moments. Does the humor come naturally as you write the story, or do you add the
| It sort of happens, and it cracks me up as well. Sometimes I don’t trust
myself. I was working on the script for Coyote Blue the other day with the
director, and we go to a scene (which he had written) where one biker is
accusing another biker of taking acid because he claims to have seen a raven change shapes. (A scene that’s not in the book.) Instead, I wrote where the one biker says. “Tink, are you still huffing spray paint?” Tink says, “Yeah, sometimes.” The first biker, staring up into the sky where the raven had been sighs and says, “Yeah, I enjoy a nice red occasionally myself.” It totally cracked me up, but I had to fight for it for about an hour.
Sometimes you’re just not sure. I finally won out, so the scene is in there for now. We’ll see if it stays.
|What writers influence your writing?
||Definitely Steinbecks’s comic novels: Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, Tortilla Flat. Also Vonnegutt, probably Douglas Adams a little, and Tom Robbins, although less and less as time goes on. Early on I was very influenced by Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson. Their horror stories were probably what made me decide to become a writer.|
|What books do you read for fun?|| Well, if you go to my web page, you’ll see a lot of them. I love funny
books, so I seek them out. Recently my favorite discoveries are Chuck Paluhniak (Fight Club, Invisible Monsters, Survivor) (this guy is so good I’m not even sure what in the hell he’s doing) and Tim Sandlin (Sorrow Floats, Skipped Parts). I’ve also just read an advance copy of Bill Fitzhugh’s new one, Fender Benders, about the Nashville music scene, which was a really fun read.
You guys should bug Bill about an interview, he’s very approachable. Ditto Eric Garcia, the author of Anonymous Rex and Casual Rex, the dinosaur detective novels. The book that most made me laugh out loud recently was Youth in Revolt, by C.D. Payne. It’s a sprawling Catcher in the Rye type of book, but the kid who tells the story is so pretentious that it cracked me up in several places.
|Do you enjoy book signing tours? Where do you have the best time? What ones were nightmares?|| I love the tours. I like going to the Pacific northwest the best, but that
may just be because the weather in Seattle has always been nice when I’ve
been there. I’m sure we’ll fix that when I go there in February. I like
meeting my readers, and if there’s a chance to actually sit down and talk to
people, I really have a good time. The down side is the pace. It’s plane,
hotel, bookstore, plane, hotel, bookstore, and you talk to so many people
that at times you find yourself on auto-pilot. I don’t like that. I like
paying attention to people and actually seeing them when I’m looking at
them, but after three our four weeks on the road, sometimes I find myself spacing out. (You get back to your hotel, typically around 11:00, then you have to eat and try to get to sleep in the face of being wired from talking to the crowd (if there is a crowd). By 5:00, you’re up and heading for the airport again. It wears you down.
I had a great time in Minnesota and Kansas this last tour, strangely enough. As for nightmares, well, Ohio was sort of a nightmare, except for meeting Erma and Jeff, and when I got sick and almost passed out in the airport while waiting for a plane to Houston, that sort of sucked. I guess five weeks without sleep finally took it’s toll. My doctor has given me some great little sleeping pills for the next tour, so if I appear to be stoned when you see me, well, I am.
|How do you come up with ideas for your books? What on earth brought the lust lizard to life?|| I have no idea.
|Speaking of our favorite lustful lizard, where did the idea for the weed whacker come from?||That was just one of those things that I thought would be funny. If you’ve ever whipped your ankle with weed whacker, you know that it smarts more than somewhat — I just thought it was one of more bizarre items I could use for a sexual aid.|
|What scene in any of your books would you like to take back?|| I can’t think of any right now. I’m not big on regret. I wish I’d had a
chance to rewrite Love Nun. There are some scenes in there that are a little rough prose-wise. I’ve never been sure about the “injury” scene in that book either. Originally I had Tuck getting his unit bitten off during the crash, but my agent’s assistant said, “It’s so derivative of Garp” so I changed it. Actually, she was probably right that reviewers would have pointed out the similarities, but the injury I came up with to replace it was so horrendous that often is the only thing people remember about the book.
|What book are you most proud of writing?||
Hmmm. I like them all. Coyote Blue, I guess. It’s the most literary. Fiends was the most fun to write, and I think Love Nun is the most engaging to read. The new one, Lamb, I think is the funniest, page for page, although it’s sort of episodic in nature, so it might be a little easier to put down than the other ones. Off hand, Coyote Blue, I guess.
|Now for the most important Bookhaunts question. Do you have any pets and do you smooch them?||Nope. Even my fish died. That’s sort of why I quit smooching them.|
|Thank you for taking time to answer Bookhaunts questions.
|Right back at you.|