This installment of Read INC. brings us an interview with Christopher Moore (The Stupidest Angel, Lamb, andFluke). The National Best Selling author has reached cult status amongst his readers who can’t get enough of his work. While writing stories about the adventures of Jesus and his childhood friend Biff or Jodi and her vampire boyfriend Tommy, it is apparent that Moore is able to develop his characters into approachable people with a keen sense of humor and a touch of the everyday in some very unlikely places.
While Moore has been hard at work on his forthcoming novel Sacre Bleu he took the time to answer some of our questions, even giving us some insight into what it was like growing up with a Highway Patrol Officer as a father and his thoughts on new E-Books and Kindles. You can also catch up with Christopher Moore at: www.chrismoore.com.
Read INC: You have said before that the character Tommy from Bloodsucking Fiends is based on yourself at 19; in what ways? And what about Jodi was she based on what your 19 year-old self would have found attractive?
Christopher Moore: Well, I was sort of smart but functional (I played some sports, but wasn’t a jock, read a lot, but wasn’t really “chess-club” level nerd, and drank, partied a little, but it wasn’t necessarily a lifestyle),– semi-literate, semi-educated kid from a working-class family who had big hopes and dreams that I was going to pursue in California.
I worked on a night crew who were called The Animals by the day crew for exactly the reason they are in the book, and I was the night-crew leader, despite being the youngest on the crew. So, you know, like that.
Jody would have been an ideal. Snarky, pretty, stacked, and sort of “in charge.” I would have fallen for her in a second when I was 19, if I hadn’t been too intimidated.
What authors have shaped your life and your writing style?
Early on, Jules Verne, then Ray Bradbury, for sure, the first time I really became aware of the craft of story-telling. I was about 11 or 12. Then Richard Matheson and Robert Block, just terrific horror story writers. I went through a Lovecraft stage, but early on you realize you can’t write like that, and shouldn’t. Then Harlan Ellison, Tom Robbins, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, Hunter Thompson, and Richard Brautiganall had some influence on me, for different reasons. Most of all, was probably John Steinbeck, who I really started to study when I was in my mid-twenties and sort of “going for it” as a writer.
How did your new graphic novel “The Griff” come about? Can you give us an outline of the plot?
Dragons from outer space kill most all the humans on the planet and a plucky group of survivors make their way to the site of the mothership to try to figure out how to take them out.
It came about from a dream I had, after reading a short story a friend of mine wrote about a little boy dreaming of being attacked by a bird of prey. I dreamed of being chased by a giant bird-like thing, completely silent in the air, but scary. (You know, dreams don’t make a lot of sense.) I started outlining the story the next day. I mentioned it to a friend who is a screenwriter, and a few months later, he called and said, “Hey, do you want to write a movie together, maybe that Griff thing?” I was stuck on my book “Lamb,” so needed a good excuse not to work on it, so I said yes.
We set about writing a movie that would be so expensive that no one would ever make it. (Mind you, AVATARwas still nine years away.) We wrote it, put it on a shelf, and went about our lives. Then a few years ago I started getting calls from comic book publishers to do a comic for them. As usual, I was in the middle of a book, so I said I didn’t have any ideas that lent themselves to a comic, except for this stupidly expensive movie I wrote with Ian Corson. Long story short, that’s how it happened. We adapted “The Griff” for a graphic novel.
Did you grow up reading comic books?
I did. I used to walk down town when I was a little, little kid, like seven or eight, and buy a Sergent Rock or aSpiderman, I was a big Hawkman fan, too. Then sit at the drugstore and read my comic while drinking a coke. (We had a drugstore/newsstand that had a soda-fountain. Even in the 60s that was a relic, but it was what I grew up with.) I sort of fell out of the comic habit in my teens, reading books instead, but I was a big comic fan when I was little.
If you where to feel a close connection to any of the types of Gods you write about, which one would you be? (imaginary or real)
Coyote. The trickster. I wrote about Coyote in Coyote Blue because I liked the idea of a God who existed as sort of an avatar of irony. Not rhetorical irony, but bite you in the ass, irony. I’ve always felt a sort of trickster force messing with me. It’s best to try to go with it, I’ve found.
Can you give us a scene from your childhood that would illustrate how you came about this sardonic sence of humor?
My dad was a highway patrolman, and for someone in that job, a bad day at the office might be having a four year old die in your arms, or watching a family burn up in their station wagon. I’m not being overly dramatic, that stuff happens all the time, and generally, the first person on the scene is a highway patrolman.
My day told me once how he and a young trooper were handling a fatal accident, car vs. train, which was almost always really bad. It was pouring rain, and they found the woman’s torso, but couldn’t find the lower part of her body. They’re slogging around in this corn field in the middle of the night, literally searching for this woman’s legs. And the young trooper, I guess, fell over them, tripped and did a full face-plant in the mud, and my dad first went into hysterics, then pulled it together and said, “That is excellent police work, there, that is.” I’m sure he used his name, but I’ve long since forgotten it.
Then, at the Coroner’s office, my father is asking questions to put on the accident report, and one of them was, “Approximate height of the deceased.” The coronor, without missing a beat, said, “You mean before, or now?” And both my dad and the young trooper cracked up. I mean, what they had just gone through, would probably be counted as one of the worst nights of any of our lives, but they might have to go right back out and do it again, so they had to develop that sense of humor to deal with the horrendous randomness of life. In my own life, personally, my dad would just goof on me, or my mother. Not cruelly, just in a silly manner.
Are you currently working on any projects that you’d like to plug here?
I’m always working on something. I just turned in a new book, called “Sacre Bleu,” which should be out fall or winter 2011. (I hope.) It’s about painters in late 19th Century Paris. Yes, it’s weird and funny.
Will we ever see a movie adaptation of your novels? How about the “Practical” Disney movie that we’ve been waiting for?
As I’ve said many times, all of the books, at one time or another have been optioned for film. Practical Demonkeeping has been dead in the water for about, oh 15 years now. I don’t think Disney even has it now. I think it’s with Sony. Doesn’t matter. I occasionally hear a rumor that someone is going to revive it, but until it opens in 1000 theaters, it’s just a rumor.
The Stupidest Angel seems the closest to getting filmed, but it’s been green-lighted three times before and something has stalled it. Fox just optioned all of the vampire books, but I have no idea what they intend to do with them. We’ll see. If I could do anything about the film bits, I would, but as an author, you really can’t. What you can control is your own, new material. So twenty years ago, when Disney bought Practical Demonkeeping, I chose to write books, rather than try to push a giant, immovable rock up a hill in Hollywood. I’m pretty happy with my decision. I hope my readers are as well.