Bangkok-based lawyer Christopher G Moore spends his days writing Southeast Asian noir crime fiction. He has smashed out more than two novels a year over the past 10 years, with one of these masterpieces in the process of becoming a Hollywood movie. Moore also keeps a close eye on the Khmer Rouge trials. He was in Phnom Penh last week to promote his noir novel Zero Hour in Phnom Penh, his upcoming book, and to offer legal advice on the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
Moore spoke to 7Days about his love for Cambodia, the unleashing of his creativity and his thoughts on the Khmer Rouge.
How does it feel to be back in Cambodia after 18 years?
I can’t help but remember what it was like the first time coming here in 1993. It’s a totally different experience. Everything has improved in a way that you can’t imagine, people’s lives appear on the surface to be better than they were 18 years ago. There is a lot more traffic, hotels and restaurants. The conditions of the roads and the people seem better. But I think change comes with its upside and downside, it takes a while to process what the change actually means. I haven’t had time to process what that means yet.
You are not obliged to cast a legal eye over the Khmer Rouge trial, what is compelling you to do so?
I think what’s compelling me is that there is a story that is trying to be told and there’s all kinds of tension as to how to tell the story, whether to tell the story and how much of the story to tell. It’s one of those epic situations where people are not necessarily clearing a crime in a conventional sense, they are trying to clear their conscience and understanding of something that happened on a massive level. This is scaling up of murder in a massive way. How does one come to terms psychologically over time? How do you balance the psychological needs of victims with the 18 year old now who knows nothing of it and wants a go ahead future? There’s always those kind of tensions in society and this is the kind of stage where those tensions are addressed and resolved. It creates a degree of uncertainty, and it’s that kind of uncertainty that draws a novelist to see how people are coping.
Could you possibly turn this trial into a novel?
It’s possible, it will definitely go into maybe one or two of my blogs. Whether there is a book there I am not sure because it would take more than the time I am spending here to really evolve a book effectively.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Phnom Penh?
I like talking to people. I’m talking to people now who weren’t born when I first came here, and so for them I am someone who has walked out of time of which they have no connection with, and it’s interesting to see how they see Cambodia and Phnom Penh because they see it through different eyes.