There are a few authors on my "must go to the bookstore and buy the hardcover immediately even if I don't have a gift card" list, and Christopher Moore is one of them. The day that Bite Me was released, I was in my neighborhood Barnes and Noble having an awkward conversation with the guy at the info desk: "Uh, I think it's You Suck. No, wait, that was the last one. It's Bite Me. The book. I'm talking about a book. That's the title. Bite Me? Not something I'm, you know, suggesting."
I got the book home where it jumped to the front of the queue of books I've got lined up on my "to read" shelf, and tore through it like a hungry vampire through a bucket of pig blood. I'm glad to report that Bite Me lives up to all of the hype it got in my head -- it is irreverent, high-energy, wacked-out, fast-paced, engrossing and funny. Basically, Moore on message. In Moore's world, the angel is just as likely to step on a rake as the demon. His heroes are as likely as not to be monsters, bumbling through an identity crisis without the manual (literally without the manual, as in A Dirty Job). A state with which many of us can relate.
But back to Bite Me. Moore's hapless hero and newly minted vampire, Tommy, finds himself in the middle of several supernatural showdowns. Vampirism spreads like a virus, and the city of San Francisco (for starters) seems close to falling to the dark side. Or the vampire kitties. Or the rat fog. Like most Moore books, it's complicated.
Moore has said that all of his books have been optioned for movies, but that "none is in any danger of being made" (see below). His stories are action-packed and gripping, sure, but one of the things that make them such a pleasure to read is his incredible descriptions. This snippet from Bite Me is a great example:
"What's up my niggas?" came a scratchy, wizened voice -- totally out of place for the surroundings -- like someone smacking a fiery fart out of a tiny dragon with a badminton racket.
I mean, really. Is that not splendid? In my grad school writing program we spent a lot of time talking about how to craft effective, lucid, enjoyable descriptions. We spoke about eschewing cliche and short cuts, and the beauty of a well-honed metaphor. We could have got a lot of mileage out of that description of a grandmother's voice. But how the hell would you put that on film? And how much would be lost if you missed out on it? I dunno -- maybe if they had a really good (and tireless) narrator.
Christopher Moore was kind enough to answer a couple of questions from this ranting fan. You'll see just how kind in a minute.
Thea Joselow: With the Abby character you channeled teenage goth-ique angst through an adult-scale sense of sarcasm just beautifully. She was a real joy to read. Do you have a favorite character in Bite Me? Or a favorite overall from your books?
Christopher Moore: I think that Abby became my favorite in the vampire series. Pocket, from Fool, is my favorite overall.
TJ: Do you have a piece of advice for a newly minted vampire? After reading your book, mine may be "learn that turning to mist thing right away."
CM: Mine would be, find a place you're going to be at sundown and get there early.
TJ: The more I read of your work, the more I notice how intertwined these books are. Characters from one appear in another, and even some moments in time are shared. For example, in Bite Me Abby punches Lily in the fresh tattoo that she mentions early on in A Dirty Job. Could it be chance? Or do you have one great cosmos mapped out?
CM: I don't have it mapped out, but sometimes things just work out that way. The only one that I actually had planned was the scene that appears in both A Dirty Job and You Suck, which is told from two different characters' point of view.
TJ: Is there a question you receive often that you wouldn't mind never being asked again?
CM: "Are they going to make any movies out of your books?" They've all sold for film. None is in any danger of being made. It's out of my hands. People ask it like it's never occurred to me.
TJ: What are you reading now?
CM: Color and Culture by John Cage. It's very academic; research for a new book. I just finished a novel called Exult, by Joe Quirk last night. It's about hang gliding. I liked his first book, too, The Ultimate Rush. I now know that I never, ever, ever want to go hang gliding, so that's good.
TJ: In Fool the protagonist uses the expletive "fuckstockings" a lot, and in Bite Me, Abby says "fucksocks." I Googled the word as a lazy way to see if anyone else noticed this, or if you'd used a variation in some or all of your other books. The fifth search result referenced "Veronica Rose Fuckstockings," which is weird because Veronica Rose is actually the name of my 3-month-old daughter. I am not kidding about that part. Do you have any thoughts about this?
CM: I first ran into the term fucksox on a Goth chat site where I was researching Abby's character. I thought it was a funny term so I incorporated it into her vocabulary. I thought I made fuckstockings up, more or less as the archaic form of fucksox. I'd never heard or seen the term before I wrote it for Pocket's character. I suspect Veronica Rose may have gotten it, however indirectly, from Pocket.
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