This one will appear in Ingram’s online magazine. Again, since this is a fairly obscure publication, I thought I’d share with you guys here.
Q&A with Christopher Moore, author of The Stupidest Angel
How’s life in Hawaii?
I’m still getting used to it. Being in and around the water is great, but writing is harder here because there are great distractions just out the door. On the other hand, it’s bloody hot when the trade winds stop blowing, so sitting in an air conditioned room making clicky noises on the keyboard isn’t a bad way to spend those days.
This year you’ve jumped on the Christmas novel sleigh along with other bestselling authors—what motivated you to pen a holiday tale?
I’ve wanted to do a Christmas story for years, but I always think about it at Christmastime, which is way too late or early for a short story. Actually taking the step to write a Christmas book is just as crass as you might guess. It started as a suggestion by one of the national sales reps from Harper Collins, who thought my goofy sense of humor would work in a Christmas story. I thought it would be a great way to reach a wider audience than my other books, to expose people to my sense of humor and see if it clicks
Though I’m sure your fans realize it, we must state that your tale isn’t the perfect, sickeningly sweet gift for grandma (unless she has a really good sense of humor, of course). Can you give us your own brief description of this “heartwarming tale of Christmas terror”?
It’s a few days before Christmas and the Archangel Raziel has been sent to Earth to grant a Christmas wish for one child. Little Josh Barker has just seen Santa murdered with a shovel, and it’s his greatest Christmas wish that Santa be brought back to life. Well, Raziel isn’t exactly the brightest halo in the heavenly host, so in granting Joshua’s wish, he unleashes an undead invasion on the little village of Pine Cove, right as the residents are gathered for the annual Christmas Party for the Lonesome. Much hilarity and carnage ensues. The book is peopled with my usual cast of misfits: the hippy constable, Theo, who is battling his pot habit, his wife Molly Michon, who is a retired B movie queen for whom the line between reality and her character, Kendra, Warrior Babe of the Outland, sometimes blurs, Gabe Fenton, field biologist and heartbroken uber-nerd, Tucker Case, former pilot for Mary Jean cosmetics and now helicopter pilot for the DEA, and his pet fruitbat Roberto. (For what is a Christmas Story without a fruitbat who may or may not talk? I’m not saying.)
The Stupidest Angel brings readers back to Pine Cove for a third time. Plus, you’ve brought in characters from some of your other books—including Tucker Case and Roberto the talking fruit bat from Island of the Sequined Love Nun and Raziel, the stupidest angel, from Lamb. So, is this a Christmas present for your devoted following or a clever marketing ploy to hook new readers?
Seven-year-old Joshua Barker gets a real surprise when he witnesses what appears to be the murder of Santa. Seven seems a bit old to still believe—do you remember how old you were when you discovered Santa wasn’t real?
I was a hold out., probably until I was seven, although I was a bit of a denial prodigy, so even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I believed in Santa. And even now, well into my really late twenties, I can’t wait for Christmas Eve when the weather radar picks up Santa’s sleigh coming down from the North Pole on the eleven o’clock news. I gotta tell you, the whole Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Evil Postman of Cold Germs mythology that was propagated by my parents, then later retracted, well, it completely compromised the whole Jesus is watching you and if you don’t do your homework it will go on your permanent record arguments that came later. It just taught me that you really can’t trust grown-ups because they are feckless liars at heart. I’m yet to find any evidence to the contrary.
You’ve stated that you’re a Buddhist with Christian tendencies, so I was wondering if you celebrate Christmas? If so, what’s your favorite holiday tradition? Have you made your Christmas list?
I used to loathe Christmas – too many years working in the tourist industry, where you work really, really hard during Christmas for money you’ve already spent. Now I very much enjoy the season – seeing friends, gaining weight, showing up at strangers’ homes and staying until they feed me. It gives everyone an excuse to be overtly kind to one-another, which is nice, even if they are completely insincere. I also enjoy the crass commercialism of Christmas. I don’t really see it as a religious holiday, I see it more as big red and white commerce festival. Plus, for my money you can’t have enough colored lights in your house. If it was up to me, they’d stay up all year long, and every year I try to pull that off, but around March the mysterious woman with whom I live starts doing the “they come down before Easter, one way or another” threats, and I take them down so I don’t have to buy all new ones next year.
And my Christmas list is done, too. For Christmas this year I would like a new President.
Where did you get your twisted sense of humor?
I think from my father, who was a highway patrolman. He had that dark sense of humor that a lot of cops and emergency workers develop as a defense for dealing with death and despair on a daily basis. For instance, I used to never get to sleep on Christmas Eve – I’d stay up all night waiting for Santa, and of course, he’d never come, but my folks wouldn’t get any sleep either because I kept sneaking out of my room to check under the tree. My dad was working the night shift one Christmas Eve, (I was about five, I think) and when he got home at midnight, seeing through the front window that I was still up, he fired his service revolver into the air, then came inside and told me to go to bed, there was no sense waiting up any more, because he had shot Santa off the roof. He was that kind of guy. I think it sort of twisted me.
Another time there was a record sale at a big department store in Columbus (I grew up in Ohio) – they were selling albums for only a dollar. My mother couldn’t believe they could be so cheap, and my dad told her it was because there were no holes drilled in them and you had to drill them yourself. She believed it right up to the time they got to the record department, where my mother promptly punched my dad in the arm. I like to think that each of my readers, when they read a particularly humorous passage in on of my books, would like to punch me in the arm. Is that wrong? Does Josh’s microwave dinner trick really work or will my microwave explode if I try it?
I have no idea. I just write that stuff up because I think it’s funny and hope no one sues me if they blow themselves up. Try it, though. Go ahead, try it. No one will know.
Fluke was a Today Show Book Club Book of the Month. Did you enjoy meeting Katie, Matt, Al, and Anne? Was this your first national TV experience?
I only met Anne and Al, Katie and Matt were in Boston at the Democratic Convention. Anne was delightful, and Al seemed very nice, although I only met him in passing. Jeff Greenberg, the travel guy was very nice as well. Yes, it was my first national TV appearance. I was pretty nervous and it probably showed because Anne didn’t really let me say anything. It may be just as well. Nicholas Sparks had chosen me for the book club and he carried the ball for the bulk of the segment. He did a great job and was very generous in the way of compliments about my writing.
I know you often travel to research your novels. Have you been anywhere interesting lately and what are you currently working on?
My next two books are set in San Francisco. I’ve spend a fair amount of time in the city, just wandering around, getting a feel for it, much like I did when I wrote Bloodsucking Fiends. It’s such a beautiful, magical city – the perfect setting for horror stories. The next book is called A Dirty Job, and I can’t say a lot about it, but I think it’s sort of going to the next level as far as the ambition of a supernatural comedy. Okay, I’ll tell you one thing about it, but you have to read it in your big scary voice: THRIFTSHOP OF DEATH. After that, I’m going to write a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends, my vampire book, called “You Suck: A Love Story”. I’ll probably pick a research intensive story after that, or I may be ready to do a book about Hawaii by then. (Fluke was set in Hawaii, but it really wasn’t about Hawaii. I’m thinking about doing something akin to my Pine Cove books, but with the Hawaiian setting.)
We love reading recommendations—what are you reading right now?
I just finished reading Syrup, by Max Barry, which I liked a lot, a funny novel about the Thunderdome that is soft-drink marketing, and I’m about a hundred pages into China Mieville’s “The Scar,” a dark fantasy, or perhaps steam-punk book, I’m not sure what he’s really doing. He has such an extraordinary imagination that reading his books is like taking a vacation in a Hieronymus Bosch painting. It’s an interesting trip, but when you close your eyes, you see creepy stuff for a while.
Anything else you’d like to add?
People will like you if you give them a copy of The Stupidest Angel for Christmas. It’s guaranteed.