Interview with Chris Bohjalian

October, 2009
Chris Bohjalian

Quick Start

SS: How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

CB: Spectacularly blessed -- though still challenged by my iPhone

SS: What is your motto or maxim?

CB: "Have we learned nothing?"

What Readers want to know...

SS: How would you describe perfect happiness?

CB: I am always happiest when I am with my wife and my daughter.

And when we are together in -- Warning, Mid-Life Novelist Cliche Dead Ahead -- Italy, I am especially content. Give me my family, a bicycle, and a bottle of wine and I am one happy fellow.

SS: What’s your greatest fear?

CB: Well, that's a cheery question. When we get past the basics -- fearing for my wife and my daughter's safety and worrying about their health and happiness -- leaving behind a mediocre body of work when I die.

SS: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

CB: A village called Montisi in Italy.

SS: With whom in history do you most identify?

CB: F. Scott Fitzgerald -- not in terms of talent, but perhaps in terms of demons.

SS: Which living person do you most admire?

CB: Barack Obama

SS: What are your most overused words or phrases?

CB: Phantasmagoric

SS: What do you regret most?

CB: Oh, Lord, I could fill library shelves with books of my regrets. But here is one: My first novel. It is the single worst first novel ever published, bar none.

SS: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

CB: Singing well enough to be in a musical in the West End or on Broadway.

SS: What is your greatest achievement?

CB: Raising a wondrous and big-hearted daughter, who happens to have the voice of an angel.

SS: What’s your greatest flaw?

CB: Impatience and micro-management.

SS: What’s your best quality?

CB: I am dogged. Alas, that's as good as it gets.

SS: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

CB: A very pampered cat. Also, a Major League baseball pitcher wouldn't be bad. Or a Tony awarding winning actor.

SS: Who is your favorite fictional hero?

CB: Atticus Finch

SS: Who is your favorite fictional villain?

CB: I tend to prefer moral ambiguity to straight out evil.

SS: If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

CB: George Bush. What were you thinking? Really, now? What?

SS: What is your biggest pet peeve?

CB: Loud cell phone conversations on beaches or airlines before the main cabin door has shut.

SS: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

CB: I like to cook.

SS: What’s your fantasy profession?

CB: Broadway actor; baseball pitcher.

SS: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

CB: Generosity; curiosity; a good sense of humor.

SS: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

CB: Pecorino cheese

SS: What are your 5 favorite songs?

CB: Really, it would be embarrassing. Awfully embarassing. TOO embarrassing.

Questions About Books and Writing

SS: Who are your favorite authors?

CB: John Irving, Pat Barker, Ian McEwan, Joyce Carol Oates

SS: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

CB: To Kill a Mockingbird

The Cider House Rules

Sophie's Choice

The Joyous Season

The Great Gatsby

SS: Is there a book you love to reread?

CB: The Great Gatsby

SS: Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

CB: Care so deeply about the subject - find it so extraordinary - that you are willing to give it at least a year or two of your life.

SS: What comment do you hear most often from your readers?

CB: I loved Midwives and I thought you were a woman!

General Questions

SS: What is your birthdate?

CB: 8/1

SS: What were your previous occupations?

CB: Advertising executive

SS: What was/is your favorite job?

CB: Novelist

SS: Where did you go to high school and/or college?

CB: Bronxville High School; Amherst College

SS: Name of your favorite composer or music artist?

CB: WAY too humiliating

SS: What is your favorite movie?

CB: The Right Stuff OR Sophie's Choice

SS: What is your favorite television show?

CB: The Office

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