Actusf : From Jesus to Santa Claus, by way of the Native American mythology and Godzilla, you revisited a good number of the founding myths of humanity. Any particular reason for that or is it just your taste for iconoclasm ?
Christopher Moore : The great thing about myths for the storyteller, is often there are huge holes left in the story (like the 30 years of Christ’s life that aren’t covered in the Gospels.) I like to take those unexplored pathways and try to take the myths to a new place. I’ve always told stories that way, even when I was a kid, so I suppose it could be just the way I see the world.
Actusf : Some of your characters jump from one book to the other. Can we hope to see them all gathered in a novel some day ?
Christopher Moore : I doubt that. It’s not so much place, but time that would prevent that. The books take place in different spots across a two-thousand year timeline. I think trying to put them all together might override anything else I might do with the story.
Actusf : For all their peculiarities, your characters are always deeply human. Are thèse people inspired by real life people that you know or have met ? Do you convey their deep sensitivity through their sensé of humor on purpose, guided by your sensé of decency ?
Christopher Moore : I think one of the best ways to engage a reader is to give them a character with whom they can identify and like (or hate). I do create characters who have traits of people I have known, but in addition to that, I try to bring an intimacy to the reader with humor and point of view that one doesn’t usually get when just meeting someone. I work at it on all levels.
Actusf : Regarding your vampire trilogy, did you intend to write it in three parts from the start, or did you realize it was necessary as you went along ?
Christopher Moore : I had always hoped to do a sequel to the first one, but it wasn’t until the second book came out, twelve years later, and was very well received by the public, that I decided to do the third one.
Actusf : How did you come upw ith that idea ?
Christopher Moore : The idea for the original book was something I wrote for a radio script I did back before I was writing books. Just about a young man who falls in love with a vampire and doesn’t really know how to deal with that. Later, when I was submitting ideas to a publisher for books I might do for them, I threw in the idea really just to fill space. I actually wanted to write a book about a Blues singer. To my surprise, however, the publisher picked the vampire idea, so that’s the one I wrote.
Actusf : Your vampires are closer to Buffy’s than to Bram Stocker’s. In gothic fantasy you seem more of a movie buff than a littérature fan ?
Christopher Moore : It all comes from the same tradition. I had read nearly everything written about vampires by the time I was 18, and I kept up with the field. I think how my vampires appear has to do more with the time the stories take place in, than film or literature. My vampires live in modern times, so they are modern, aware of their surroundings. I think Buffy may come to mind because it’s also a comedy, and a fish out of water story, which is a major premise for comedy, and so is my story, and that aspect of the vampire has been explored more in film than in book, but it all goes back to the archetype, really, which is Dracula. My old vampire is very much like the Dracula character, as is Stephen King’s old vampire in Salem’s Lot, as it goes back to 1897 and Stoker’s book.
Actusf : You are famous for thoroughly researching your novels in advance. Do you write your outline, before the research or afterwards ?
Christopher Moore : Both. I have a very loose outline before I research, so I have some idea of what I’m looking for, but I like to leave the story somewhat open, so I can change it based on new things I learn. If I find it interesting, I hope the reader will find in interesting, so I pick how the story goes based on new things I discover.
Actusf : Or do you just sit back and set your characters free ?
Christopher Moore : Well, in dialog, this can happen, but you create characters to help you achieve what you want to do with the story. I can let them go, but usually they’ll go where I wanted them to.
Actusf : You write since childhood. How come you stated so soon ? Where di dit come from ?
Christopher Moore : I was an only child and I read a lot when I was little. I think it just was natural to me to make up stories to entertain myself.
Actusf : Is writing a pleasure or is it a need ?
Christopher Moore : It can be both, and a bit like torture sometimes, too, when it’s not going well. When the writing is going well and I’m creating engaging, funny fiction, there’s nothing better. When it’s not going well, and every sentence is a chore, it’s not so fun, but I have to keep doing it, because it’s what I do. It’s who I am.
Actusf : Which literary genres do you like best ? Who are your favorite authors, past or présent ?
Christopher Moore : I’m all over the place on genre’s. The last few years I’ve been reading a lot of classics. Shakespeare, Zola, Dickens. Before than, almost all crime fiction like Elmore Leonard or James Lee Burke. Overall, my favorite author is John Steinbeck. He has such a wonderful, kind voice which I aspire to in my work. The more time I spend reading Shakespeare, however, the more I like him, and Dickens as well. They are, along with Mark Twain, my favorites, I suppose.
Actusf : Your pen turns everything into a joke, even when you broach on death or on whales. Have ever thought of writing something totally devoid of any humor ? Would such an endeavor mean anything to you ?
Christopher Moore : I’ve actually tried to write a story that wasn’t humorous, but a few lines in, I have to say something ironic or silly. When I started out, I thought I was a writer of horror stories, but when I would read my stories in workshops, people would laugh at how I turned a phrase. I decided to go with what I seemed to be naturally good at, which was writing humor. I’m not sure I could do otherwise.
Actusf : You have characterized your self as an Irish-Scottish American. Do you plan aceltic mythology novel some day ?
Christopher Moore : There is some Celtic mythology in A Dirty Job. The Morrigan from that book are from Celtic myth. I don’t plans for a full Celtic fantasy, but I’m not closed to the idea, either.
Actusf : How did you conceive? What was the idea behind the scene?
Christopher Moore : A friend suggested that I do a Christmas book because they sell very well here in the U.S. I asked him what he thought I might write about, and he said, “I don’t know, Christmas in Pine Cove.” Pine Cove is a small village in California that I’d created in two earlier books. So I started taking characters from the earlier books, and classic Christmas stories, and I came up with the idea of a zombie attack on Christmas. The rest was figuring out how to make that happen. I used the angel from my book Lamb to be the “magical” catalyst because in the that previous book, he never seemed to get anything right.
Actusf : Fool, yet un published in France you gave an original point of view on King Lear and some excerps were recently performed the NJ Shalespeare Company. Do you plan to work in thetatre or the movies any time soon ?
Christopher Moore : Actually, I hope to adapt Fool to the stage myself, and work with actors and a director to polish the play once I’ve written it. I don’t have a time-table yet to do that, but I’d very much like to make that happen.
Actusf : Could you tell us a little more about Fool ? For the French readership ? What’s the plot ?
Christopher Moore : Well, it’s the plot of King Lear, in that a very old King of Britain feels that he’s close to death, so he decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters based on how much they profess their love for him. The rest of it is how the sisters fight over their parts of the kingdom and the old king loses everything and ends up out in the storm with no one but his fool.
My version is told from the Fool’s point of view, who runs the whole story. I’m curious how it will translate into French, since it’s a very English book.
Actusf : What do you work on, thèse days ? What are your plans for the future ?
Christopher Moore : Right now I’m writing a book set in Paris in the 1870s and 80s. It’s about painters and painting. For now that’s all I have planned. It’s a difficult project and I have to stay focused on it for now.