Part 2 of Interviewing: The Questions

When it comes to laying out the interview and choosing the interview questions that I will be asking, they tend to fall into three categories:

1) Questions about the new book, with reference to how the author came up with the story, what research was required, where certain characters came from, how certain events in the book came about, and whether there will be a sequel or continuation of the book.

2) Questions about the author with relation to writing, how they started writing, what sort of schedule they keep, what they use to write on, what advice they have for writers looking to get published.

3) Questions about the author’s life, what they do in their spare time, what they like to read and do for fun.

As you may have noticed my interviews tend to be laid out in the order of the categories above and for my first bunch of interviews I stayed very much to a set script of questions and rarely deviated from it with each interview.  I even had a last question — “What is your favorite TV show?” — with each interview.

Then in about the spring of 2009 I decided to really start varying the interview questions, changing them around, reshaping the format and asking different questions, to make each interview a little more unique.  The result is I think I enjoy the interviews more and it forces me to work a little harder at coming up with interesting questions, as well as that all important last question.

In Episode 18 which will be available October 15th, in my interview with Joe Schreiber — since it was related to his Star Wars horror novel Death Troopers — my last two questions were: What is your favorite Star Wars movie?  And if you were to be a character in Star Wars, which character would you be?

I now make the extra effort with that last question to either tie it in personally with the author or something more unusual that they wouldn’t usually get asked.  I think the result is definitely worth it.

Perhaps after another five or ten interviews, I’ll redo my interviewing format all over again.  Who knows?

Part 1 of Interviewing: Techniques and the Interviewees

As we encroach upon the one year anniversary of BookBanter, which technically falls on Tuesday, October 13th, but I’m commemorating this with the new episode on Thursday, October 15th (or between 11PM and midnight the night before for you BookBanter Readers waiting for the new episode), I’m going to talk a little about interviewing on BookBanter.

With the eighteenth episode going up next week and sixteen successful interviews under my belt covering a wide range of authors on numerous subjects, including fiction and nonfiction; I’ve realized an interesting facet to interviewing: with each interview I undertake, they fall into two categories.  Now bare in mind these categories are on equal standing, and no one is better or worse than the other, they’re just different, and both just as enjoyable to do.

There is the interview where I feel like I’m always running the show.  Obviously I’m pretty much always in this position, being the interviewer, but there are some authors who either have some preset answers or are just good at responding to questions and know where I want them to go with it and what information I’m looking for.  These are the situations where I feel like I’m “mostly” running the show.  It’s almost like they are running the interview and I’m simply shooting out the questions every once in a while when they’re done answering the previous question.  These are fun as the listener gets a lot of information about the author, as well as personal anecdotes and some interesting stories that I never would’ve expected to hear and never thought to ask as a question.  These are usually with authors who have been writing and published for some time and have a number of books under their belts; though this is certainly not always the case.  These also tend to be longer interviews.

The other type is where I give the question and the author answers specifically to the question, occasionally giving extra information, but for the most part sticking to the question.  In this situations I feel like I’m completely running the interview, as the author is reacting and responding to me and not the other way round (as is the case in the first type discussed above).  What makes these interviews just as fun and interesting is it forces me to improvise more and make up new questions that will probe a little more into the author’s life.  The result again is some new and interesting information that I’d never planned on asking and yet leads to a fun and unique interview.  These authors are usually relatively new authors (again, not in all cases) and tend to be shorter interviews.

I want to once again stress the point that I thoroughly enjoy these two types of interviews equally, as the result each time is a very entertaining and enjoyable interview that I know is special and unlike any other.  This guarantees for me — which is a big part of why I love doing BookBanter — that each interview I do will be a totally different experience to any one I’ve done before and will therefore, I think, make it all the more interesting and entertaining for the BookBanter Reader and Listener.