Urban Fantasy author Vicki Pettersson interviews Christopher Moore author of BITE ME: A LOVE STORY. Make sure to check out the GIVEAWAY after the interview for a chance to win novels from both authors!
Vicki Pettersson: First off, I gotta take a page from Abby Normal’s journal to tell you: Chris Moore, you rock my stripy socks. Yet, I’m looking at your author photo trying to find out where you’re hiding a complex and mysterious goth girl in that fairly straightforward (yet obscenely masculine) writer-boy frame. I mean, Abby really took over this book. Were you at all concerned about diving into a teen girl’s mind for much of this narrative?
Christopher Moore: I was a bit concerned, but the key, I’ve found, to do characters like Abby is to completely construct a new dialect, rather an try to approximate a real one. So basically, if the reader should think, “nobody talks like that”, your explanation is, “of course not”. There’s a bit of “Method Acting” in writing any character that isn’t like yourself. You just have to get into character and try to stay there.
VP: There’s a lot going on in your books: magic systems, science and multiple narratives - yet the humor and accessibility of your prose masks the work that goes into a so-called “easy read.” It also completely subverts the dark and tortured existence of the undead, which I love. So who was the first person in your family to recognize that you’re completely bent? Any personal or famous influences you can share, or did your sense of humor grow petrie dish style?
CM: I think the dark sense of humor was more part of my family than a stand-out quality in me. My father was a highway patrolman, a job where a person can face some fairly dire situations on a day to day basis, so I think he developed a bit of a dark (and sometimes even silly) sense of humor, as many emergency workers do, to deal with it. That’s what I was around, and that’s how I thought everyone looked at the world.
VP: Your books aren’t shelved in romance, but you have strong female characters with relationships that ring true for their respective ages. Abby and Foo do the first-love thing. Jody and Tommy are more passionate and mature. But one of the most touching subplots for me in this book was Jody’s relationship with Okata. The way he cared for her while remembering his wife was old love at its most romantic. So it begs the question, other than mutant vampire cats and unspeakable evil, what does Chris Moore find romantic?
CM: I don’t think my sense of romance is any different than anyone else’s. Perhaps it’s more of that “Method acting” as applied to the page. By that I mean I just try to remember the variety of emotions one can go through while in love, both positive and negative. There is, too, the idea of shared experience, the apprehension of beauty together – whether it’s looking at a sunset, or listening to music, or holding hands as your airplane bounces through turbulent skies, it’s changed and enhanced by that other soul there with you. And then there’s desire, yearning for another – well, you could write books about it, couldn’t you?
VP: On a more serious note, you also included narrative from both cats and dogs, which I loved. Even the animals are characters that can only exist in a Chris Moore book. So writers want to know, what comes first for Chris Moore, the characters or the plot?
CM: It depends on the book. Sometimes, as with my book Fool, I know I just wanted to write a fool. (Or as in Coyote Blue, I wanted to bring the trickster god Coyote into the modern world.) But once I start putting the story together, I have to modify the characters to get them to do what I need them to do for the stories, so sometimes I start from that, “I need a guy who’s not afraid of heights”, something like that. If the story ever seems to lose direction, or comedy, though, the aspect I always go back to to find it is character.
VP: You’re twelve books into your career now, and more popular than ever. You’ve written about everything from Jesus’s best friend to a character who is Death incarnate. Slightly eclectic, yet have you found any recurring themes or things that are morally important to you somehow infiltrating themselves into your text? And do you know it at the time, or only realize it in retrospect?
CM: I’ve written about love, courage, and faith a lot in the context of my comedies, so I suppose I always have something to explore or say about those things. Often you’re writing to find out how you actually feel about something, just as much as knowing how you feel and then making a statement. I’m interesting in the act of creative courage, of making something from nothing without the expectation for reward, and perhaps even the possibility of negative consequences. I’m not sure how one writes about that, but I find it interesting and I’d like to explore it.
VP: You were writing vampires before the latest cultural explosion. What do you think is driving this latest vampire craze, and why do you think women in particular find vampires so appealing?
CM: The current wave in vampires is driven by a youth interest. Perhaps it’s the next logical step for kids coming off of Harry Potter, but I think that vampire romance in particular, and yes, I’m talking about Twilight and friends, is driven by an adolescent girl’s desire for a partner who is more sophisticated than the boys of her generation, yet is still more or less her age. You have the “bad boy” danger element that’s been the staple of every romance since Wuthering Heights, and yet you get your dangerous, brooding, Heathcliff in a smoking-hot teen guy who is in complete control of his desires. That’s a pretty powerful escape vehicle, and I think if any of us had to go back and spend any time in middle school, we’d be desperate for an escape. To answer the question about women finding vampires more appealing, well, again, escape. Danger, sex, romance, and immortality all in one package? Beats the hell out of sorting out the expired yogurt cups.
*GIVEAWAY ALERT* Three Readers will be chosen at random to receive a copy of Christopher Moore's BITE ME: A LOVE STORY and Vicki Pettersson's upcoming June release CHEAT THE GRAVE. To enter please e-mail Whitney@RTBOOKREVIEWS.com. To be considered, the subject line of your email must be "Bite Me And Cheat The Grave Giveaway." Winners will be announced on April 28th!