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Interviews | March 17, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Peter Stark: The Powells.com Interview



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Powell's Q&A

Christopher Moore

Describe your latest project.
A Dirty Job is, very simply, the story of what happens when a beta male, a single father who owns a thrift store in San Francisco, gets the job of being Death. High jinks ensue.


  1. A Dirty Job
    $9.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    A Dirty Job

    Christopher Moore

  2. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ
    $9.95 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

  3. Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings
    $1.95 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist

  4. The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror
    $9.50 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
Hey, You Can't Do That: How I Got Away with Not Having a Real Job for a Pretty Long Time

What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
Molly from William Gibson's Neuromancer, because she's a bad-ass. Maybe Thursday Next from Jasper Fford's books, because she smart and funny and she's named Thursday.

If you could choose any story to live in, what story would that be? Why?
The Three Little Pigs, because I love the bacon.

Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good place to start.
Mil Millington, Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About — because he's flat-out funny. One of the few authors that have made me laugh out loud in the last few years. He's very British, though, so if you don't like that idiom, you might pass.

Writers are better liars than other people: true or false?
Actually I think they are pretty awful liars. I know I am. Storytelling and lying are completely different things. When you're telling stories, you are actually trying to illuminate some portion of the truth in an artful way. The story may immediately seem to be a lie, but it's like an impressionistic painting — you see the light and the color better than you would with a photo-realistic piece.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"Nobody here likes a wet dog."
—Billy Collins

What is your favorite literary first line?
"He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."
—Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
The last good book I read was called The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper, and my friend and web guy, Ken, sent it to me from Boulder.

What section of the newspaper do you read first?
Op-ed, then the front page. (Actually, I read the NY Times online, and start with the columns. I also read the San Francisco Chronicle, but there I start with front page news.)

What makes your favorite pair of shoes better than the rest?
They fit and they are clean.

Describe the best breakfast of your life.
I don't remember what it was, but I'm pretty sure that a good portion of it was licked off of someone. Presentation is important.

What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
Cheesy B-grade horror movies, which are only slightly wicked. And chocolate, which seems very benign — nay, divine.

Why do you write?
Because I'm better at it than I am at anything else — and they pay me. Oh, and I like making stuff up that makes people laugh.

Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
In fifteen years of writing novels for a living, I've never been recognized outside of a book-oriented event or environment — until last month. I was driving to the post office, watching the side of the road carefully because a kid had almost ridden a bike out in front of me a few blocks back, when I hear this thump, and I stop, and there's this little dog rolling down the road behind my car. So I get out, and the little dog yaps at me, really indignant and hurt (like, "You asshole, you ran over me, and it hurt! Hurted me! Asshole!"), then he takes off yowling, his owner, a woman who was selling plants out of her car on the side of the road, chases the dog, and they disappear into the jungle about five blocks away.

As I'm coming back to the car, this young woman says, "I saw the whole thing, there's nothing you could have done. He just ran under your car."

So, I go," Thanks, I've got to go try to find them."

And as I walk back to my car, she goes, "Hey, are you Christopher Moore, the author?"

I'm dumbfounded. "Yes, I am."

"Wow," she says, "I just love your books."

"That's great," I say. "Thanks. You know I don't run over little dogs every day, right?"

What are the odds? Anyway, the dog was fine. Freaked out, but physically fine. Me, I'm still a little freaked out. And I know that somewhere there's this anecdote being passed around — "Yeah, his books are funny, but he's mean to dogs."

Who's wilder on tour, rock bands or authors?
Despite the logistic nightmare of moving a crew and equipment every night (the logistics are brutal), rock bands, by far. I have a friend who is a sort of a rock legend, and I've been back stage with him on tour. And I'm talking about grown-ups, who have been touring for more than twenty years. If you add in the offers of drugs and sex that rock stars get, well — it's insane. When authors tour it's generally just them and their luggage and a media guide to drive them. The most they get offered is a latte. Media guides tell stories of authors in the '70s and '80s who drank and screwed their way through a tour, but you don't hear much of it any more.

Talk about your vision of the ideal life.
Pretty much the life I have now — living on a tropical island, doing work I love, living with a woman who puts up with me, and getting in the water fairly often. To make it perfect, there would be 48 hours in each day, and I'd have 24 of them on an island in the Pacific, and 24 of them in a vibrant city like San Francisco or New York. Oh yeah, I'd write with some of that extra time.

Aside from other writers, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration and talk a little about their work.
The music of Bruce Springsteen influenced me early on, but I think he counts as a writer. His work was very poetic, but very visceral at the same time. Billy Collins's poetry inspires me, but, again, writer. He can distill a moment into very few words, and infuse the experience with humor. That's much more elegant than it appears on the surface. As far as visual artists, I find inspiration in Henri Rousseau, who painted amazing, dream-like junglescapes without ever leaving France, and who sort of mixes a primitive view to achieve a glorious effect. I'm also affected by the philosophy of Matisse, particularly later in his life, when he was trying to distill his images to shape and color.

Do you read blogs? What are some of your favorites?
I like Michael Bérubé's blog, Scott Adams Dilbert blog, and Opinions You Should Have by Tom Burka.

Dogs, cats, budgies or turtles?
Cats. spacer

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