We caught up with Jim Kokoris sitting outside a bistro in Paris. He was wearing his now trademark black turtleneck and a matching black beret. He was also, inexplicably, wearing black face. Alternately described as reclusive, arrogant, and thick around the waist, we shared green tea with Kokoris on a sun-drenched day overlooking the Seine.
Q: Hello. A lot has happened since we last spoke.
A . *THOUGHTFUL PAUSE* Indeed, yes, a lot has.
Q: How do you like Paris?
A: *EXTREMELY THOUGHTFUL PAUSE* What’s not to like? It is the City of Angels after all.
Q: I think that’s Los Angeles.
A: *PAUSE* More tea?
Q. Thank you, yes. You wrote another book.
A: *ANOTHER THOUGHTFUL PAUSE AND A SLIGHT SMIRK* You’ve done your homework, I see. Very impressive.
Q. How is Sister North different than The Rich Part of Life?
A: Well, to start with, the titles are completely different. And, now that I think about it, all the characters are different too, as is the plot. Both novels, however, are set in the United States, my homeland and the country where I spend most of my time.
Q: Has your life changed much since the publication of your books?
A: Other than the breast implants, I am still the same person.
Q: Are we ever going to get serious?
Q: Some people said you based Sister North on Mother Angelica, who appears on cable TV. Other people think Oprah Winfrey was really the inspiration for Sister North since she has so much influence here in America. Any comment?
A: I can understand why people would say that. Sister North is probably a combination of those two people.
Q: What is Sister North all about?
A: About faith and life. The characters in Sister North are pretty simple people—there aren’t any great thinkers in the bunch. They’re all lost, as I suspect most people are. The only difference is most people don’t know they're lost—at least these people are looking for answers. Most people don’t bother. They just want to know what’s on TV that night.
Q: You’ve been quoted as saying Sister North was supposed to be a complete satire, but after September 11th, it took a darker tone.
A: Yes, I finished the first draft on September 9th, two days before the terrorist attacks. It was a much lighter, funnier book. But after September 11, I had a hard time being funny for a while. My second draft was really depressing. I had Lila dying in it and Sam was a complete downer. In my third draft, I was feeling better about things, and brought her back to life and gave Sam some personality.
Q: Are you a very religious person?
A: Not overly. I go to church most Sundays and I say my prayers at night. And every Easter I watch The Ten Commandments.
Q: Are you going to write a third book?
A: Yes. It will come out sometime in 2008. I think it will be called The Pursuit of Other Interests. It's about a workaholic CEO who gets fired and doesn't tell his family. I think it's funny.
Q. Both of your novels were optioned by Hollywood. Is there any progress?
A. The screenplays for both my books are done and a major studio has the rights to my first book. We will see.
Q. Have you written anything else recently?
A. I wrote my first short story. It's very different than anything I've written before. It's about a sleeper cell terrorist living in America. "It's called Sleeping in America."