Christopher Moore’s ‘Razzmatazz’

Christopher Moore’s latest comic novel Razzmatazz is a sequel to his 2018 novel Noir, a wonderfully funny and satisfying novel of reinvention that depicts San Francisco’s seedy but fabulous underbelly in post-war 1940s San Francisco. Chris discusses how Razzmatazz came out of the research he did into the history of San Francisco for Noir; how he manages to find the funny in serious subjects; the fun of jumping around in time; the importance of following Shakespeare’s example by adding comic relief to serious subjects; giving readers a win; the ah-ha! moment of realizing a secondary character in Noir can become a protagonist in Razzmatazz; how not to get bogged down in a consistent point of view; which characters got moxie and which characters don’t; the surprisingly long wait for the perfect synopsis; and the origin (and surprising new definition) of the title. (Length 25:35)

Thing Of Darkness

What if Shakespeare didn’t die on April 23, 1616, and instead sailed to the New World? Novelist Allan Batchelder (the Immortal Treachery series) dives into speculative historical fiction to investigate this very question in his new novel This Thing of Darkness, which imagines the aging playwright creating a new family of outsiders amidst tension between their fellow English settles, the suspicious Powhatans, and a creature out of legend. Allan discusses his novel’s origins; how much of the historical record fuels his imagination; how he dives into and refutes various Authorship theories; how spite is a powerful motivator; how his experience as an actor, educator, former stand-up comedian and Girl Scout (!) influences his writing; how he navigates the dangers of writing from on-high; and the fun of positing a different kind of a relationship between William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. (Length 20:13)

Grownup Tiny Tim

Louis Bayard’s novel Mr. Timothy, a sort-of sequel to Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, imagines what happens to Tiny Tim as a grownup. It’s a moving literary thriller, with its own sort of redemption and set in and around the Victorian London underworld, and author Bayard discusses the book’s origins and creation; how A Christmas Carol is a surprisingly angry book; how he realized that Bob Cratchit is not the most reliable narrator; the ways in which Tiny Tim is a Rorschach test; the desperate need to find your own narrative; the struggle of being seen as a symbol, not a person; the importance of purging and exorcizing your demons; not having a good answer to the question of where this sh1t comes from; identifying at least one Dickens descendant (who you may recognize from Game of Thrones); the importance of keeping multiple plates spinning; the fun of finding the story that’s already there; and inside scoop on the upcoming film adaptation of Lou’s novel The Pale Blue Eye, starring Christian Bale. (Length 19:43)

Depicting William Shakespeare

It’s William Shakespeare’s Birthday Week! On this milestone 750th episode (!), Nicole Galland discusses the fun and intimidating challenge of making Shakespeare a character in her new novel Master of the Revels, and the chutzpah required to put words in the great poet and playwright’s mouth. Nicole shares which parts of the novel are autobiographical (and to what degree), and how even a genius like Shakespeare had gatekeepers; how Edmund Tilney (Queen Elizabeth I’s master of the revels) was both censor and showman; understanding metrics of success (and then ignoring them); how even the greatest writers — maybe especially the greatest writers — walk around in a daze, lost in thought, figuring out story elements and language choices; and how her novel is, ultimately, a celebration of the countless unsung behind-the-scenes champions of playwrights and artists. PLUS: A special appearance by Gary Andrews, author of Finding Joy, and the artist behind the extraordinary portrait above.

The Revels Master

Master of the Revels is Nicole Galland’s sequel to her New York Times best-selling novel The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., and picks up right where that fast-paced adventure takes off. It’s a thrilling tale of time-travel, witchcraft, and Shakespeare, and Nicole describes how the novel came to be; how she dipped into Shakespearean fiction before with her memoir I, Iago; some twisted love letters; how characters evolve from one novel to another; a climax at the very first public performance of Shakespeare’s Scottish Play; and how a years-long passion for Edmund Tilney has resulted in an extraordinary new novel. With a special appearance by (speaking of Shakespeare’s original productions) Ben Crystal. (Length 19:42)

My Podcast Faves

For this last podcast of 2020 (and thank goodness this annus horribilus is over!), we present highlights from our favorite episodes from over 14 years of regular weekly podcasting! Featuring solid categorization; excessive candidates; important work; stories of process; helpful tips; new partners and old friends; and ultimately, passionate chats about things both serious and ridiculous. (Length 23:05)

Miranda In Milan

Author Katharine Duckett talks about her new novella Miranda In Milan, which explores what happens when Prospero’s daughter from The Tempest returns with her father to Milan after the events in Shakespeare’s play. Katharine talks about her influences; how she draws on not only Shakespeare but Mary Shelley; how the novel came out of her reading of the play and found its eventual form; dominant storytelling forms; investigating the unresolved tension of the play; her shared Shakespearean instincts; pronunciation controversies; and her own origins story as a writer. (Length 15:45)

Chris Interviews Austin

It’s our 700th episode!! And because it happily coincides with the publication of Christopher Moore’s Shakespeare For Squirrels, the New York Times best-selling author turns the tables and interviews RSC co-artistic director Austin Tichenor in an epic un-reduced unabridged almost one-hour conversation. The two Fauxspeareans celebrate the release of Chris’s book by getting lost in the weeds of craft and discussing the importance of inoculating people against Shakespeareaphobia; the value of learning to keep 5-7 year olds entertained; the difficulties of working with living playwrights; understanding who got Shakespeare’s jokes and who didn’t; writing a Hitchcock adaptation for Disney animation; the dangers of unskilled labor; learning comic timing from stand-ups and Gilbert & Sullivan; using a five-act structure; the value of memorizing Shakespeare; the art of capturing Shakespeare’s exquisite mixture of tones; the perfectly understandable struggle to explain Shakespeare’s greatness; plausible explanations for why Shakespeare left his wife his second-best bed; snappy answers to listener questions; and being members in the small club of authors rewriting Shakespeare. (Length 58:17) 

Personifying The Muse

New York Times best-selling author Christopher Moore talks about his best-selling novel Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art, and how he weaved together the history of the color ultramarine blue, the rise of the impressionists, and the death of Vincent Van Gogh to create a wildly entertaining novel about the sometimes-comic sometimes-poignant dangers of invoking the Muse. Featuring tips from Famous Genius School; ideas begun from simple notions; misappropriating (and mispronouncing) French terms; secrets of surviving book tours; inventing more Earthly Delights; the truth of the arrival of the muse; and the joy of discovering — and then filling in — holes in history. (Length 22:38)

Courting Mr. Lincoln

Louis Bayard is the author of such novels as Mr. Timothy, Roosevelt’s Beast, and The Pale Blue Eye, the former recapper of Downton Abbey for the New York Times, and the author of the New York Times obituary for William Shakespeare which appeared on the front-page of the April 23rd, 2016 edition, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. HIs new novel Courting Mr. Lincoln is funny, poignant, and fascinating comedy of manners, and Lou discusses the impulses that led to this writing the novel, influences ranging from private letters to the novels of Jane Austen and Henry James, catching Mary Todd at her best, performing rehabilitative acts, spawning (and creating) clickbait-y articles, the glories and challenges of writing on spec, the fun of digging into primary sources, discovering further eerie and ironic Booth/Lincoln interactions, and the privilege of being the novelist who steps in where the historical record falls silent. (Length 26:03)

Jasper’s ‘Early Riser’

New York Times best-selling author Jasper Fforde returns to talk about his new novel Early Riser, a comic thriller set in a world very much like ours — except here, humans hibernate. What happens during the cruel winter months is the subject of this gripping and funny book, and Jasper reveals much about the process of creating it, his ongoing fascination with all things Welsh, how he accepts narrative dares and creates Ffordian Middle Earths, why and when he has to spread textual jam, his ongoing effort to make ‘scribernation’ happen, the promise of sequels, and how creativity is both the angel and the devil sitting on a writer’s shoulders. Also featuring Jasper’s unsolicited (and totally delightful) praise for the Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show (available on Audible and iTunes)! Calling all editorial sherpas! (Length 25:25)

Episode 626. Journalist Nellie Bly

Actor, director, and historical novelist David Blixt has written What Girls Are Good For: A Novel of Nellie Bly, an origin story of one of America’s great heroes and badass women. Using skills honed by writing two previous series set in ancient Rome and inspired by the origins of the Capulet/Montague feud in Romeo & Juliet, David tells this entertaining and hugely compelling tale that features incendiary writing, Shakespearean echoes, early exposures, pop-culture influences, finding the right angle, the joy of research, suggested casting, and the rush of exploring gaps in the stories we think we know. (Length 18:10)

Episode 596. Nicole Galland’s D.O.D.O.

Friend of the podcast, novelist Nicole Galland (I, Iago), has co-authored (with Neal Stephenson) a wonderful sci-fi time-travel thriller-comedy called The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., which the San Francisco Chronicle calls “a high-stakes techno-farce with brains and heart!” D.O.D.O. is now out in paperback so Nicole returns to talk about the book’s creation, the difficulties of describing your characters, how she met Neal Stephenson, the burden of having too many interests in too many places, the rarity of authorial rebranding, rewriting during the editing stage, how the authors’ writing partnership informed the relationship between the two main characters, some tantalizing clues about the sequel, and how one transitions from an historical to a sci-fi novelist. (Length 18:53)