Vampire fiction has become big business. Were you ahead of your time?
No, not at all. Anne Rice was selling millions already when my book came out in 1995. In fact, I had a huge collection of vampire books, and a friend who was helping me move at the time said, "You have so many vampire books, if you every wanted to write one, you wouldn't even have to do any research."
You've considered and rejected some ideas for books (a blues novel, a tale about an African village). How does a guy who writes about Whaley Boys in Fluke and Jesus' best pal decide something isn't commercial enough?
Well, in those cases it was looking at my editor's face or listening to my agent's voice when I described the ideas. They both sounded like I'd killed their cat. That sort of resets your commercial barometer on an idea.
Why comic novels and not techno-thrillers or crime novels or any of the other million subgenres?
There was no choice about comic novels. I've tried to write straight fiction and always end up wise-cracking. It's what I do. As for subgenre, I sort of get to try each of those, but in the comedy context. Lamb
is a historical, Love Nun
is a thriller, Coyote Blue
is a modern fable, Fluke
is sci-fi. The thing they have in common is that they're funny.
What cracks you up these days?
I've been reading Mil Millington's books, they crack me up. Reno 911. My Name is Earl. Some of Billy Collins' poetry. The Daily Show. Eddie Izzard. Margaret Cho. Tom Burka's blog: Opinions You Should Have. Scott Adams blog: The Dilbert Blog. I'm wide-open to laughter where I can find it.
You've gotten to write off diving with whales and trips to the South Pacific as book research. What do you want to experience that you haven't gotten around to yet?
I'd like to ride an elephant. Spend some time in Europe, maybe live in England for a while - see if I can pick up the idiom. I feel as if the Brits invented rhetorical comedy, and there's certainly a tradition of it there going back four-hundred years or more, I'd like to sort of immerse myself in it. I'd like do another whale book, maybe about killer whales. I'm not sure about the adventure travel aspect of research as much as I used to be. I think that there are people doing that really well right now, and writing well about it, and unless it's going to really help inform a book, I'm not sure I need to go native in some remote locale in order to write well.
You're pretty damn popular for someone who was once labeled a "cult author." What happened?
I think I'm still a bit of a cult author, if only because people aren't sure what I do. I think no matter how well I do on the best-seller lists, I'm always going to have a bit of the flavor of a cult author, or at least I hope so, in that I want my readers to feel as if they are on the inside of an inside joke. Kurt Vonnegut hit big on the best seller lists long ago, as did Tom Robbins, and I think they are both considered cult authors, despite what seems a contradiction of terms (best-selling cult author). I'd love to be in company with those guys.
What's next in your plans for total world domination?
Who knows? I have to get a handle on this whole book thing before I go one to conquer the rest of the planet. My cult just has to get bigger. You know, a religion is just a cult that made it. Maybe I could be, comic Pope. (Some of my readers are starting to refer to themselves as Moorons. That would be a cool name for a church, right? The Church of Latter Day Smart Asses?) A guy has to have ambition.
Christopher Moore's latest comic masterpiece, A Dirty Job, is published by William Morrow on April Fool's Day. For more wit and wisdom from the author guy, visit www.chrismoore.com.