On author interviewsPosted: January 23, 2014
I’ve interviewed a few different people on my blog now, and I’ve had feedback from several of them about how I ask insightful or “hard” questions or how I’ve done my research.
My desire for research before interviewing someone arises from back in the days before time (here imagine me gesticulating wildly with my walking stick), when I was at university. I did a professional writing degree, which included journalism units—as an aside, it was their helpful advice about how to deal with your interview subject if they start crying that put me off journalism as a career path.
Arising from all of this is the fact that I don’t usually agree to interview people if I can’t cyberstalk research them beforehand, to find out what their interests are, or something about the book beyond what’s in the blurb. My favourite interview subjects are the ones who not only have an interesting, updated blog, but have posted links to the interviews they’ve done elsewhere.
The downside, of course, is that research is time consuming. I’ve easily spent an entire evening stalking researching someone for an interview.
The alternative to research, of course, is form questions. But for form questions to really work, they need to have something special about them.
Chuck Wendig does this well. He has an interview series where a bunch of different authors answer the same few questions each week—it’s really interesting to compare the different answers you can get to the same question. Also, his questions aren’t just “Can you tell us about your book?” They really dig into the author’s motivations and desires. The latest series is “Five Things I Learned Writing My Book”.
Other interviewers with a series of interviews narrow the focus down to a particular aspect of writing. For example, I saw one recently that was all about dialogue.
Another approach is the one taken by Valerie Rian, who recently interviewed me for her blog. She had form questions, but provided a huge list and I got to cherry pick the ones I thought I had an interesting answer to. That’s kind of like the interview subject doing the research for the most appropriate questions on your behalf, which I thought was quite clever.
All of this got me to wondering whether I should embrace one of these two approaches for some of my future blog interviews, especially for authors that don’t have a big web presence. I’m certainly thinking about it.
When you’re reading author interviews, what sort of questions are you most interested in the answers to?