Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Question and Answer with Richard Morais

Richard Morais, the author of The Hundred-Foot Journey was kind enough to sit down and answer my crazy questions for you all.

Which book or books are on your nightstand right now?

SPOONER (in Kindle) by Pete Dexter.
BEST NEW AMERICAN VOICES 2007 (Selected by Sue Miller)
DON CAMILLO TAKES THE DEVIL BY THE TAIL by Giovanni Guareschi (finished)
DON QUIXOTE – by Miguel de Cervantes (finished)
THE BIRD ARTIST by Howard Norman (finished)
BUDDHA OF INFINITE LIGHT by T.D.Suzuki (finished)

Can I just say that I love that finished books are included? On my own nightstand, finished books have to be removed immediately in order to lessen the risk of injury should the pile topple over though.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?


I just read this one and I have to say that I loved it, even though I am far, far, far past childhood. I wish I had discovered it earlier and I fully intend to introduce my own crew to it as soon as I can bully them into it.

What book would you most want to read again for the first time?

RCM: WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy

Interestingly enough, I read this one for the first time last year. I don't know that I would go for reading it over again soon though given how much of my reading life it consumed.

How did you get started writing?

RCM: I wrote a play about Richard I (The Lionheart) in first grade.

I'm impressed you remember what you wrote about. I wrote stories all the time when I was small but they are (blessedly) lost to the mists of time. I do have school papers dating back to fifth grade though and I refuse to get rid of them, occasionally threatening my children with being forced to read them.

If you heard someone describing your book to a friend out in public, how would you most like to hear them describe it?

RCM: It’s about a human being finding his place in the world.

What's the coolest thing that's happened to you as a published author (either as a magazine writer or now that you have a full-length novel)?

RCM: THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY was picked as one of their best reads of the 2010 summer by some heavy hitters I deeply respect: O, The Oprah Magazine; (“favorite summer reads”); the American Booksellers Association (“Indie Next Great Reads”); the American Library Association (“starred” review); and the editors of Amazon-Kindle (“Ten Best” books of June.)

I see that The Hundred-Foot Journey is in active film development. Who would be your dream cast?

RCM: I originally imagined India’s Shashi Kapoor as Abbas Haji and France’s Jeanne Moreau as Gertrude Mallory. But I think both are little too old and unwell for the roles now. So I have since warmed to the frequently floated notion of Meryl Streep as Madame Mallory – the only American actress I think who could pull her off – and blank-faced Dev Patel as Hassan Haji (during his youthful years). Luckily, India, France and Britain all have many fantastic actors to fill the book’s rambling cast.

If it was my book, I would be pushing hard for a combo Bollywood/food porn flick but I'm weird that way. Plus I love the enormous and cheesy production numbers in Bollywood movies. Just think how great all that singing and dancing could be around food! Of course, I have no idea who I'd cast for any of the parts but I agree that Meryl Streep is the only actress I can think of who could pull off Madame Mallory.

Tell us three interesting or offbeat but true things about yourself.

RCM: I think I am rather conventional, but my daughter and wife insist I am eccentric.
I have been fly fishing In Iceland for salmon since I was 14 years-old
I weep easily in movies. Even during puerile Disney films. Very embarrassing.

If you couldn’t be an author, what profession would you choose and why?

RCM: An actor – I love pretending, for a little while, that I am someone else far from my own skin.

Can you give us a teaser of your next book, Buddhaland Brooklyn?

RCM: The book is in the form of a diary kept by Reverend Seido Od, a Japanese priest, sent to Brooklyn to build a Buddhist temple. The motley crew of characters the repressed Buddhist priest meets in Brooklyn change him profoundly over the course of the year. One character, Jeanette, is a neurotic American woman hell-bent on seducing the Japanese priest. But the perplexed Reverend Oda, not understanding what is going on after one loaded exchange with Jeanette, asks his American assistant, Jennifer, why the woman with the big hair appears to be stalking him. Jennifer uses a vernacular American expression to explain what is going on, but Reverend Oda still doesn’t get it. Here their brief exchange:

“Jump bones?”
Miss Jennifer pause briefly, before she add, much more gently, “Jeanette is hoping to see what you have under your robes, Reverend Oda.”
I blush. Deep red.
I not say another word, but at next corner, I curtly excuse myself and head over to Smith Street, allowing Miss Jennifer to continue down Court Street by herself.
Imagine this. I am speechless.

This scene totally cracks me up.

What’s the hardest thing about writing, besides having to answer goofy interview questions like these?

RCM: Actually enjoyed these questions. Writers LOVE talking about themselves, so no hardship here. The hardest part is the day-to-day monotony of working through all my bad writing - all necessary in order to get to that good place where the characters come to life and start doing their own thing on the page.

Thanks so much to Richard for sharing all of that. Read my review of his book, The Hundred-Foot Journey, pick up your own copy over which to salivate, and be sure to visit Richard's author blog for more interesting information about his books and his life.

Now for the giveaway part. Yes, I know you've all been waiting for this bit but wasn't it interesting to read Richard's answers to get to this point? Thanks to InkWell Management I have three copies of this book to give away to US residents. Leave a comment below with your e-mail address to enter. No entries after midnight July 20th. Winners will be chosen and posted just as soon as I can get myself off the island and into a place with working internet (hopefully the 21st but no promises).


  1. Great interview. Please enter me
    stacybooks at yahoo
    I just read W & P in March and can't imagine ever re-reading it!

  2. Sounds interesting! I love reading about different places, and characters who travel. I'd love to win a copy, and have already added it to my library queue in case I don't win! Thanks for doing the author interview.


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