Friday Night with The Author Guy (Christopher Moore)

Author Christopher Moore doesn’t read at his readings, unless it’s from the voluminous notes he brings to the podium and ends up deciding not to use. He claims not to sign books at his signings, either, although he did at this one – actually, he said he’d sign whatever anyone brought up, so I hope no one brought anything except books. What he does do is a form of standup comedy with some audience participation. He’s not just a comic novelist – he’s a funny guy. I wish we’d brought something to record the evening in words as well as pictures.

He’s a pretty popular guy for a “cult author,” too (as he was described on a sign near his books that we recently saw at Borders). Tall Paul and I arrived at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena at around 5:30 on Friday evening. The discussion/signing was scheduled to start at 7, so we grabbed sandwiches in the cafe before going upstairs to the event space. By the time we got up there, it was a little past six, and the staff was already bringing out additional chairs. The crowd ended up being standing room only, and tickets were issued for the signing line – we had to wait for chairs, but luckily our ticket numbers were low. My husband’s estimate was that there were around 250 people there. (This photo was taken around 15 or 20 minutes before the event started – lots more people showed up after it.)

If you’ve read any of Moore’s novels, the parental-advisory sign posted at the entrance to the event space shouldn’t come as a surprise. His language in conversation was a bit more reserved than it sometimes gets in his books, but the discussion about his “neuticles” wasn’t really for the kids. (While presented as fact, I’d rather not ponder whether or not he’s really gotten those implants…) The “author talk” portion of the evening was pretty free-form, since he really didn’t see much reason to discuss his latest novel, Bite Me: A Love Story, especially so soon after its release: “It’s a vampire book. What else can you say about it?” Moore is an animated, engaging  speaker who looks like the kind of college professor who goes out for beers with his grad students after a seminar – and he was taller than we thought he’d be.

The author took some questions from the audience after sharing some topical commentary and observations about various oddities he’s seen on his book tour. Some of the questions weren’t terribly insightful, to be honest, but his answers were always interesting. I didn’t take notes, but I do remember a few things:

  • This is probably his last vampire book, and that has nothing to do with Twilight or Stephenie Meyer. He’d always envisioned it as a multi-part story, and he’s pretty sure he’s told it all now.
  • He’s unlikely to set any more novels in Pine Cove, California (the literary disguise of his former hometown of Cambria, on the Central Coast). The second one came about because he had to meet a deadline, and the third was the result of someone’s suggestion that a “Christmas horror story” would sell really well. (And it has – I see The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror on holiday bookstore displays every year, and it’s his book with the highest likelihood of being turned into a movie. That one will not be for the kids, either.)
  • He intended to be a horror writer, and his early influences were in that genre, which explains the continued presence of vampires, zombies, and Death Merchants in his fiction. But when he first brought his stories to a writers’ workshop, “Everyone laughed at them. So I thought ‘Hey, maybe that’s what I do!'” He now considers that he essentially owes his career to Tom Robbins.
  • He can’t say when his next book will be out – “Dude, I can’t tell you when the fourth chapter will be done. But don’t tell my editor. Hey, do you want to write the fourth chapter?” – but it will be set in France and feature prominent Impressionist artists among its characters. (His blog posts from his research trip to France last fall featured many photos with inappropriate captions and were hilarious.) I’m looking forward to this one, since it sounds like his first since Fluke: or, I Know Why the White Whale Sings that’s not either his particular horror/humor hybrid or drawn from other sources like Shakespeare (Fool) or the Bible (Lamb).

We bought a copy of Bite Me at Vroman’s that evening, and Tall Paul brought his copy of Lamb to be signed as well:

(They’re both taller than they look in this photo.)

If he comes around on tour for that next book, Tall Paul and I would definitely want to see him again. I wish I could convey better just how humorous the evening was. Sometimes you really need that thousand words and not just the pictures.

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