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A Literary Chris-Cross The New Bohjalian and Moore Offerings Are Very Different – ​​and Very Good – Cover Story – News

My affinity for writing is no secret. I have been reviewing books in these pages for 15 years now, and I was an avid reader even before it became part of my job.

I have my favourites, of course – who doesn’t? Anyone who spends a lot of time turning the pages has authors whose work they particularly enjoy. And it’s always exciting when one of your favorites releases a new book.

But there’s something even more exciting than that – when TWO of your favorites EACH have a new book coming out.

This is the case for me here in mid-May, when two authors whose work I greatly appreciate release new novels within a week of each other.

On May 10, Chris Bohjalian’s latest book “The Lioness” was published by Doubleday. It’s a sharp and propulsive work of historical fiction that revolves around mid-century Hollywood types and a safari gone horribly wrong, with each chapter moving from character perspective to character and featuring the meticulousness of Bohjalian’s research. It’s a real reading adventure.

On May 17, literary clown prince Christopher Moore’s latest “Razzmatazz” was released courtesy of William Morrow. A sequel to Moore’s excellent 2018 novel “Black”, this one is also set in the past – post-WWII San Francisco, where we can enjoy the continuing adventures of reluctant bartender and hero Sammy Tiffin. as he tries to solve a mystery and save himself and his friends. Weird and funny laugh.

(Our full reviews of “The Lioness” and “Razzmatazz” are available.)

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve had two authors I admire come out with works that are so close to each other. So what makes this instance so special – special enough that I chose to make it our cover story this week?

Well, there are a number of reasons, but the main one is this: for the first time in all my years here at The Maine Edge, the impending publication of new work by beloved authors features two writers who have all two already been featured on our cover!

That’s right – Moore and Bohjalian were featured on the cover of this very publication, taking the time to chat with me in depth about previous work.

I spoke to Moore in 2014 when his excellent “The Serpent of Venice” hit the bookstores. He gave generously of his time, sharing with me his thoughts on the book and on writing in general. Meanwhile, I met Bohjalian last year; we were talking about his wonderful novel “The Hour of the Witch” – a conversation where he too talked about his process.

As such, I thought it might be interesting to share a few snippets of these interviews that shed some light on their respective attitudes and ideas regarding their work.

First, process. Here is Moore from 2014:

TME: How is your typical writing process? Where do you draw your inspiration from? What is your daily writing routine? And roughly how long does a book typically take you, from typing the first word to sending the final draft to print?

CM: Well, from start to finish, a book usually takes 18 to 24 months to write, as long as four years from conception to publication. Often, however, I had an idea years ago and didn’t realize how I wanted to use it until later… My inspiration comes from everywhere. From Shakespeare to a little report I read in the newspaper. From art, to drama, to poetry. Inspiration comes from life and attention.

And now, Bohjalian from last year:

TME: Walk me through a typical writing day for Chris Bohjalian. What is your daily approach?

CC: The daily life of a writer is spectacularly boring when you’re writing: I get up and walk my beloved dog, Jesse, then grab a Red Bull and get to work – which means sitting at my desk. Now I have two quirks. I start the workday by going through a huge library dictionary and picking out two or three words that I don’t think I’ve ever used before. (After 22 lbs, I can’t be positive.) Trying to use them that day. I might fail, but it’s worth trying because, after all, words are our main tool. Second, I watch movie and TV trailers. These impeccably produced two and three minute teasers instantly launch me into an emotional place that helps me get into the rhythm of the scene I’m trying to write that day.

My goal is to write 1,000 words a day. Again, I could fail. But that’s the goal.

It should also be noted that while these authors have very different styles and tones in their work, both are adamant about the vital importance of research. Here is Moore again:

TME: You wrote a number of books that seemed to require significant research. How does the research process generally go for you?

CM: I’ll often start researching my next book before I’ve finished writing the current one. I may only have a vague idea of ​​what I want to write, and I’m researching to see if it’s doable. If the premise seems feasible, then I start looking for inspiration in research – academic research.

At some point, I want to go to where the story takes place. Even if I write about this same place in another era, Paris of the 1800s or Palestine in the first century, I will always see something that I did not expect and that enriches the story. There are always salient details that I will experience that will help persuade the reader to join me on this adventure.

I remember going to Jericho when I was researching Lamb, and I thought it was the most monochromatic place I had ever seen. Everything was brown. So in the book, when Josh (Jesus) heals two blind men, as he does in the Gospels, they look around and say, “I really thought there would be more color.” They keep asking him “What color is that?” and he keeps saying, “Well, that would be brown. That? Yes, also brown. Without going there, I would never have had this moment.

Here are some of Bohjalian’s research thoughts:

TME: One of the many remarkable things about your work is how meticulously researched it is. How much time do you devote to research before diving into the work of writing the book?

CC: I usually spend a few weeks researching an idea before I start writing, just to make sure it’s viable and really interests me. This second factor is essential. If the idea doesn’t excite me, I certainly can’t make it exciting for my readers. But I always do research as I write. If a scene isn’t working or my momentum has slowed, it usually means I haven’t done my homework and there’s more to learn.

[R]maybe looking for [really]interesting. I did a bike tour of Vietnam and Cambodia when I was researching “Le Lotus Rouge”. I had the best time interviewing Puritans and jurists about 17th century Boston while researching “The Hour of the Witch.” I mean, who knew Puritans didn’t use forks and drank beer like college kids on spring break? It is the magic that brings a book to life.

You know what I mean? These wonderful writers, despite the vast differences in the types of books they produce, still possess those fundamental commonalities that inform their work.

Now, the odds of these two books coming out so close are made somewhat slimmer by the simple fact that they’re both incredibly prolific, combining around 40 novels between them (and that’s not even counting other writings). When you have two talents that produce such a huge volume of volumes, the outputs are going to line up eventually.

Celebrating writing is something that has always been important to me and always will be. And honestly, if this story even serves as an introduction to any of these outstanding writers, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to accomplish.

(Note: you can find the full versions of these previous Bohjalian and Moore interviews here and here. And of course, the reviews for “The Lioness” and “Razzmatazz” are here for your perusal. You probably won’t be shocked by this. ‘learn both are raves. But honestly, you’d be well served buying any book written by either of these literary Chriss.)