As it happened, the guest I was to have interviewed today became very busy with synopses and proposals that she really underestimated the time and would have had to rush her answers to me. I would not let her stress-out, so we’ll have her visit next month. However, without the planned post, I was at a loss until I decided to talk about interviewing in general.
I never expected to do interviews, but I found that I truly enjoy them. I enjoy doing research on the interviewee, I enjoy reading new works, I enjoy coming up with the questions and learning more about people whom I know and those whom I do not know well.
I do enjoy reaching out to those I have met through this blog or my fellow bloggers here at 4F,1H. Often I will ask someone I have met through other writers’ blogs, especially if I have won their books through contests. Or, I find it’s someone whose work seems interesting and I will read their books so I can interview them. Once I met someone through The Hound and she asked online for a beta reader; I jumped at the chance. Then I asked her to come here as our guest.
I hope that I do interesting interviews. I tailor-make each one to fit the writer and their work. There are other interviewers who ask each of their guests the same questions. There is something to be said for that tactic; it not only saves time but the interviewers’ regular readers/listeners can compare the different answers and different personalities of the varying guests. The problem starts when return guests have to answer the same questions again about their pets, their first date, if they are vegetarians and when they first knew when they wanted to write Believe me, it gets old for the reader and interviewee.
Often, especially with formula interviews, the questions and/or answers are redundant; what the interviewee added in previous responses sometimes answers questions that come afterward. Most interviewees don’t dare mess with the questions and many interviewers would not stand for it. I, on the other hand, always ask my guests to please feel free to omit or combine questions if their answers are covered by other replies. I will not let my ego get in the way of a better read for those who are kind enough to drop in to read my posts. I know that for the most part they come to read the guest anyway. It is obvious that the interviewer has not paid much attention to his/her guest or the job if they insist that their questions be re-answered in the course of one interview.
Many years ago Barbara Walters interviewed Katherine Hepburn, who said that she was like an old tree. Barbara asked her, “What kind of a tree?” Everyone thought that was the most clever question ever asked and for several years many, many interviewers asked many, many interviewees what kind of tree they were. It was taken completely out of context and it was just ridiculous. Barbara Walters begged and begged for it to stop, since she never started out to ask Kate what kind of tree she was. I find that many interviewers find certain questions ‘clever’ or ‘in’ when they see a question or answer from another celebrity and ask the same of many guest; it’s boring for all concerned and just plain lazy of the interviewer.
I have never done a ‘live’ interview, not as the interviewer. As a guest and listening to others who have had the same problem, I would advise anyone who is going to be interviewed or who is going to interview to Be Prepared. If you are going to interview, know the guests’ works, learn something about them beforehand and make sure that you have enough questions or comments to fill the time. Have more than you think you need, because not every guest is scintillating and they just may be having an ‘off’ day. Make a list of ‘have-to-ask’ questions and then secondary ones. If you are going to be interviewed, be prepared to fill in with information, material or excerpts from your work. Be ready with background of yourself or your story, or even with personal anecdotes, because not every interviewer can be a Tavis Smiley or Charlie Rose, and there can be very awkward silences if you don’t take the initiative. With such pauses you can come across as boring to your readers, who won’t be your readers for long. That is a real no-no:
Don’t be boring!
Do you have any observations from interviews? Is there anything that you particularly like or don’t like that you have seen and heard? Is there any way you think that I can improve when I interview for here? Please feel free to comment. I appreciate it.