So far, Christopher Moore has parlayed his absurdist vision into 14 books. From the author of The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Island of the Sequined Love Nun comes The Serpent of Venice, a new novel that seems to owe as much to Blackadder as it does to William Shakespeare.
Why did you write your new book?
I wanted to write a monster story set in Venice. I visited Venice a few years ago and thought, “This would be the perfect city for a monster to stalk people.” I think most people have that reaction to Venice.
Whose sentences are your favourite, and why?
Shakespeare’s, because often he distills the whole of human experience so succinctly and lyrically that you just want to throw your hands up and go, “Well, I can’t beat that.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When I sold my first book, a successful artist friend of mine told me, “Just don’t start thinking that every word you write is good and important. You still have to do good work.” That, perhaps with another bit from another painter, which was, “Ultimately, art is about communication. Never forget that.” I never have.
Which historical period do you wish you’d lived through, and why?
Belle Époque Paris, because everyone who was anyone in arts and letters was either there or passing through there. It just seems like it would be an exciting and beautiful time to be alive. That’s if I was an artist or a writer and had some money. I don’t think I’d want to be a street sweeper or rag-picker. I think we imagine the best of circumstances when we think about another era, but being poor in nearly any era was probably less than pleasant.
Would you rather be successful during your lifetime and then forgotten or legendary after death?
During my lifetime. I don’t give a toss about being remembered after my death.
What agreed-upon classic do you despise?
I kind of dislike For Whom the Bell Tolls, but most of Hemingway in general, mainly because his stylistic shenanigans ruined so many young writers of my generation who tried to imitate him. I think, for his time, he moved fiction to a different level stylistically, or at least added to the dialogue, but in our time, he’s annoying.
Which fictional character do you wish you’d created?
Pippi Longstocking, because I think she had a proper outlook on societal rules and how to deal with authority. Pippi’s got moxie, that’s what I’m saying.
Which fictional character do you wish you were?
Tigger, from the A.A. Milne stories. He seems cheerful.
What question do you wish people would ask about your work (that they don’t ask)?
Which of your books do you think won you the Nobel prize, or was it a combination of your whole oeuvre?
I love it when people ask me about my oeuvre. Or my uvula. I should have a button made that reads, “Ask me about my oeuvre or my uvula.”