An Interview with Richard C. Morais
Born in Lisbon and raised in Switzerland, Richard C. Morais is an American who has lived most of his life overseas. He started his writing career in New York in 1984, moved to London for Forbes in ’86 where he lived for 17 years, eventually becoming European Bureau Chief and Senior Editor. He won three awards and was nominated six times at the London-based Business Journalist Of The Year Awards. His first book, an unauthorized biography of Pierre Cardin, was published to critical acclaim by Bantam Press in 1991. Morais’s fiction was a semi-finalist in the 2004 William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition. His short story, Confessions of an Aerophobe, was short-listed for Britain’s Ian St James Award and published in the literary magazine, Acclaim. The Hundred-foot Journey is his first novel.
1) What led you into writing?
I cannot rightly say. I had a powerful need to live off my imagination, in some artistic form, and I finally settled on writing because it seemed the most practical of the “artistic” work-solutions on offer. I think I would have been an emotional basket case had I become, say, an actor or a painter, with their long periods of “resting” or garret-anonymity. Much easier to find work, in some shape or form, as a writer.
2) What was your earliest career aspiration?
I so wanted to be an actor. But when I finally turned full-time to fiction, 25 years after working in journalism, I found I had come full circle. That’s because when I take on a protagonist’s voice, such as an Indian chef, I assume the skin of someone far from my own culture and experience – just like an actor would. So I kind of got my wish, after all.
3) Can you describe your latest book and its inspiration in thirty words?
It’s about a man searching for his place in the world.
4) Do you have any plans for your next book?
I am near to finishing my next book, Buddhaland Brooklyn. It is about a Japanese Buddhist priest sent by his superiors across the ocean to build a temple in an Italian neighborhood in New York City. Having a hoot of a time.
5) What has been the most exciting moment in your career?
I was sitting alone in my room, working, when a harumphing character marched across my keyboard in a direction I never expected. Quite extraordinary.
6) What are you reading right now?
Jean Genet’s The Thief’s Journal.
7) If you could have dinner with any three people, past or present, who would they be?
Carl Gustav Jung, Gerald Durrell, and my grandmother.
8) Which period in history would you most like to have lived through?
The early Renaissance in Italy.
9) If your house was on fire, which three books would you save from the flames?
My own half-written manuscripts. Everything else is easily replaced.
10) What do you do to relax?
Take long baths.
Find out more about The Hundred-Foot Journey – the book behind the critically acclaimed film starring Helen Mirren
Find out more about Buddhaland Brooklyn