Describe your latest book.
Secondhand Souls is the sequel to my bestselling novel A Dirty Job, which was about a single dad in San Francisco who gets the job of being Death and runs it out of a secondhand store in the Italian neighborhood in North Beach. In Secondhand Souls, the forces of light and dark are once again at odds, and Charlie Asher is trapped in the body of a 14-inch-tall meat puppet. Oh, and all the ghosts of the Golden Gate Bridge are in revolt. Well, things get weird.
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
Christopher Moore, Inventor of Science!
If you were trapped in an elevator, what fictional character would you want with you?
Marcy, the elevator-repairing nymphomaniac.
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands, and why did you read it?
It was sent to me by The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, who wrote it, and I read it because she's very funny and she seemed nice and she said nice things about my books. Oh, and it turned out to be pretty funny. [Ed. note: We suspect Mr. Moore is referring to Jenny Lawson's new book, Furiously Happy.]
What was your favorite book as a child?
Green Eggs and Ham and The Mouse and the Motorcycle and The Mysterious Island and Paddington Goes to Town. I had different favorites at different ages.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"Oh for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention!"
It's from Shakespeare's Henry V, the chorus invoking the muse for inspiration. I think about it all the time. It's the way to start a story, I think. The opening verses of my book The Serpent of Venice are an invocation of the muse.
What's your biggest grammatical pet peeve?
Strangely, it's usually in speech — people who say, "irregardless" or "I could care less." They kind of drive me nuts, but that said, I don't correct them. Oh, and people who express degrees of uniqueness. If someone says, "It's very unique," I will automatically assume they are slightly stupid.
Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
I like dogs and cats. I haven't had either in a while, but I like them both. I'm okay with turtles, but frogs are my go-to wet pets.
What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
Hmmmm. If you go by how often I indulge my indulgence, I guess fancy coffee creamers. I realize that's not very exciting, but I drink a lot of coffee when I'm writing, and I try to write every day, and most of the time my coffee tastes like some kind of dessert. Yeah, I like pumpkin-spice lattes, and if they had them all year, I'd drink them all year. I don't give a damn.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
I think you should read Matt Ruff and you should start with The Mirage. He's a very talented guy who is always doing something different. I just got an early copy of his latest one, Lovecraft Country, today, which comes out next year. I can't wait to start it. It's basically, from what I understand, the Cthulhu mythos meets the Jim Crow South.
What fictional world would you want to visit?
It would depend on what level I got to visit it. No one ever thinks, "Oh yeah, I'd love to be a sewage treatment worker in Oz!" or, "It would be so cool to be a garbage man in Narnia." So, if I could be protected from the harsher elements, and be one of the privileged, I've love to visit Arrakis, from Dune. Maybe the Olympus of classical myth. Oh, and that place Philip Pullman wrote about with the talking armored polar bears would be cool, too.
Books about 19th-century painters and painting:
I spent four years researching and writing a novel called Sacré Bleu. I was immersed in the world and work of the French Impressionists (and Post-Impressionists), and it was one of the most interesting, satisfying, and delightful periods of my life. The books that best illuminated that period and those people to me are below. (The Victoria Finlay book is really about the adventure of finding the sources and history of pigments and color, and it's a fascinating and entertaining book, despite not being specific to 19th-century painters.)
Renoir, My Father by Jean Renoir
Vincent Van Gogh: A Self-Portrait in Art and Letters edited by H. Anna Suh
The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe
Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
Toulouse-Lautrec by Gilles Néret (great pictures and text)