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Interview!

Christopher G. Moore

Bookwriter in Bangkok, also called "The Hemingway of Bangkok"

I have had the honor to have a lunch with Christopher while I have been in Bangkok. We met on 16. Jan 2001 at "Ship's Inn" near Soi Cowboy:

Norbert: 
I am glad that you find a little bit time for this Interview, Christopher. I know, that you are a very busy person, so lets start: 

Norbert:
You are living in Bangkok and you look, like you are happy to live in this VERY chaotic city. How long do you live here and what do you like / dislike in Bangkok???

Christopher G. Moore: 
I first came to Bangkok in 1983 and have lived here on a permanent basis since 1988. In some ways a very long time, in other ways a midsummer’s night sleep. Bangkok is a 24-hour city, with excitement, adventure, and diversity. I have lived in New York and London, and spent substantial time in Tokyo and Paris, but it is in Bangkok one finds a truly international city living in the midst of a very old, unique culture. It is a place of many contradictions and this provides more than ample material for a novelist to drawn upon.

Norbert:
You are doing something, which I thought it is absolutely impossible for all "farangs" to do: you drive in Bangkok with your own car! How many cars did you destroy for "learning driving" in Bangkok ;-))))?

Christopher G. Moore:
Driving in Bangkok is like going to the frontline of a small guerrilla war on foreign terrain where the locals have all the advantages, a place with landmines and snipers and massive delays and boredom. What is amazing is how seldom a Thai ever leans on his horn. Most of the time if you see someone going Horne crazy it is a farang who has finally been driven over the edge into madness as yet another smoke belching bus cuts in front of him without signaling. I own a Honda City, the kind of car a first year student at local university would lose face being seen in.

Norbert: Are you still "on the road" at night-time? Do you still visit Nana-Plaza, Patpong, Washington Square or did your live change in this item??

Christopher G. Moore:
Bangkok is constantly changing and this includes nighttime Bangkok. There are many more venues than before. Lot’s of pubs and upscale bars like the Q-Bar have in the past couple of years transformed the night landscape and fractured the expat community into many more different parts. In my fiction I try to set scenes in contemporary Bangkok, and that includes the night life, so I am always scouting out the latest hotspots. Otherwise the novels would simply take readers through a Bangkok of the past and the intention is just opposite: to take readers on an adventure into the moment of what this city has to offer.

Norbert:
Bangkok is very big and there are thousands of nice bars and places. But everybody has some favorite places to be. What are your "Top Five" favorite places? 

Christopher G. Moore:
Q-Bar, G-Spot, Bossy, The Ship’s Inn, Voodoo Bar, Baan Khanitha.

So it is six and not five. I was never any good at maths.

Norbert: 
When we are talking about Bars, what is your favorite Drink? 

Christopher G. Moore:
Champagne / Single Malt Whiskey

Norbert: 
We are in email contact since some years and one time you wrote: "Bangkok is changing every day". Is it a positive change or a negative? What has been the main thing in your view, that changed in the last years? 

Christopher G. Moore:
Is the class half full or half empty? The older people become the temptation is to grow more grumpy, cynical and negative. The job of a novelist is to bring some larger truth to his or her times and place. In most cases, the message is a mixed one, as one expect from the world we live in, there is joy and despair, humor and anguish, love and hate, forgiveness and revenge. For each person there are choices of paths to take and that includes emotional and psychological paths as well. It is no good to be nostalgic about a past that no longer exist. We live in the present and that ever shifting present is the bridge we cross every day of our lives. Bangkok is in a state of constant change; but, then, so is every other place in the world. The weave of the expat community is less tight, the local color has been largely replaced by international symbols of wealth and influence, the bourgeois are slowly gaining more power. Wealth still triumphs. The message from the artistic community is muted and disconnected from most people’s life. There is an awkward relationship of using the tools of creativity and irony to assess and evaluate the sexy modernism of these times.

Still one must draw a line in the sand. Mine is this: make no mistake about it, this is the Golden Age. It will never get any better any where in the world as it is for a foreign living in Bangkok.

Norbert: 
Lets talk about a good friend of you: "Calvino" (for all, who don't know Calvino: he is the hero of some of Christopher's novel's). Is he still in Bangkok?

Christopher G. Moore:
Calvino is working on a murder case in Bangkok at the moment. If it all comes together, then the results of that case will be recorded in novel number 7 in the series. I have been encouraged by my distributor in Singapore to take Vinee on the road, say (no surprise here) to Singapore. I am consulting the private eye to see if this fits in with a visa run he might be planning.

Norbert: 
Ok, I know, that there are so many beautiful Girls in Bangkok, but do you think Calvino will choose one (!) and marry her, or will it be better for Bangkok, if he is available for all of them?????

Christopher G. Moore:
Calvino is a captive of his professional and literary genre. This dictates that he must be a solo act acting on the margins, trying to give help to those without power and influence, seeking to make a difference in lives that for most would be throwaway lives. It is difficult to find such a character living a bourgeois life. 

Norbert: 
Because Calvino seems to drink to much sometimes, did he never choose "a wrong one", one of the Girl-Boys, which could be found everywhere in Bangkok, when he was drunken? 

Christopher G. Moore:
Calvino says he’s never made that elementary confusion of gender. He once had a Katoey client who makes an appearance in Novel 7.

Norbert: 
I have heard, that "you and Calvino" have some contacts with Hollywood. If there will be a movie, based on one of your Novell's in the future, who be the best actor in your mind for the Calvino part?

Christopher G. Moore:
Recently there have been several inquires (and a couple of offers) to option the Calvino series. So far none of the offers have come close to what Calvino would regard as fair and decent. Most of the people in show-biz have the kind of patchwork morality that makes them colorful, pumped up with inflated self-value, and basically without a clue about Bangkok, Thai or expat cultures. I am reminded of an endless parade of cowboys who have never been to a rodeo, who talk bull, but have never ridden one. 

Norbert: 
You have wrote so many novel's (not "only" the Calvino-Novel's), what is your favorite of your own Novels? And what is your all time favorite Novel by another author?

Christopher G. Moore:
I think of the Land of Smiles trilogy as one big novel in three parts: A Killing Smile, A Bewitching Smile, and A Haunting Smile. They were written very close together, and this is among my best work. I notice, for example, that Christopher Isherwood’s novels set in Berlin are reissued as The Berlin novels.  

My favorite novel would Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, followed by Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Isherwood’s The Berlin Novels.

Norbert:
When I read a book, written by you, I am always thinking, I am standing in Bangkok, in front of the Police office and so on and so on. Your books are very authentic. I think it is hard work, to write such authentic stuff, even if you are living in Bangkok, isn't it?

Christopher G. Moore:
People who have been to Bangkok know a great deal about the city and have a high expectation that anyone writing about it will not let them down on the small details. For it is the details that makes the reader suspend disbelief, to climb into the second story of imagination, and like a good cat burglar know exactly what valuables are worth putting in the bag before making an escape.

Norbert:
Your Novell's are sold all over the world. In how many languages are your Novell's translated??

Christopher G. Moore:
My novels have been translated into Chinese, German, Japanese and Thai.

Norbert:
I know, that you started to sell your Novell's with a "sales tray" years ago. Then you worked with the internet and it is still possible to buy books at your website http://www.cgmoore.com (which is very interesting, even if someone has bought all your books). At moment, every new book is sold worldwide in a very high number of copies. What will be the next step?

Christopher G. Moore:
My first novel His Lordship’s Arsenal was first published by a traditional publishing house in New York City in 1985, and the paperback rights were sold to another New York City publisher in 1988. Since that time I have had a number of publisher in Thailand. Heaven Lake Press is the latest publisher, a Thai company situated in Bangkok. My international sales are handled through www.cgmoore.com .
The books are shipped all around the world by airmail and the staff has a good reputation for reliability and following up. We have never lost an order in three years. I get a fair number of order for 5 or 10 books as there are special discounts for those amounts. A reader will write that he saw an advertisement for my books while standing at a urinal in Voodoo Bar, buy a book, read it on the plane, then discovering they aren’t available in his local bookshop, he finds his way to the website and orders the whole lot. This reader loyalty and support has been very important to me as a writer. Not only are the sales to regular readers an encouragement to keep at it, the money from the books allows me to keep on writing full time. And there aren’t that many people in this part of the world (or anywhere for that matter) who have the luxury to write novels full time and not starve to death in the process.

Norbert:
Last question: if you could change any thing in your past live, what would you change?

Christopher G. Moore:
I would have learned more magic.

Christopher, Thank you very much for this meeting and for the very interesting interview with you!

The Interview was made by Norbert at 16. January 2001 in Bangkok.

You could get all books at 
http://www.cgmoore.com

It is also possible in some countries to get them at Amazon.

And some news for all German readers from Christopher (written to me at 08. October 2001) :

Dear Norbert,

You will likely be the first in the German language world to know.

Unionsverlag will publish a German language edition of Cut Out. The contract will be signed at the Frankfurt Book Fair this month.

Cut Out is set in Thailand and Cambodia at the time of the UNTAC deployment and the story revolves around the stolen Saudi jewels....

Spread the word.

Best,

Christopher

 

And his new Book in English Language:

 

The Pictures on this site are published with the permission of Christopher G. Moore.  
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