Interview with Chris BohjalianOctober, 2009
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?
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
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!
SS: What is your birthdate?
SS: What were your previous occupations?
CB: Advertising executive
SS: What was/is your favorite job?
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
Get more on Chris Bohjalian at SimonandSchuster.com