A writers’ magazine, that shall remain nameless here, asks authors of new titles ten questions. Clearly, the intent of these articles is to promote the book because I can’t imagine that readers care how and when authors write.
Okay, maybe I’m biased against these kinds of articles because “they” haven’t called me and asked whether I write best in fire or rain, use a pencil or a pen, or sit in Waffle Houses or woods as I craft each new book.
I’ll stipulate that there may be circumstances where a writer’s methods and techniques might be interesting:
- Wrote the book in jail.
- Wrote the book while clinically dead on the operating table.
- Wrote the book while surrounded by rabid kangaroos in Australia.
Otherwise, I’m not sure readers care whether an author writes in the bedroom or the back porch or the south forty. I know I don’t care. And if “they” called me and asked for an interview in which “they” proposed a series in inane questions, I’d probably agree to it and make stuff up. People who ask inane questions deserve to be lied to.
Perhaps I would say, I always write at High Noon because “High Noon” is one of my favorite movies. Or, perhaps I would say, I always write on Hallowe’en because I channel haints and the veil between worlds at that time of the year. Personally, I think that thin veil between worlds stuff is a lot of nonsense, but people seem to believe it. That means readers would probably believe haints help me write my books.
I just got done reading one of these “ten questions for Joe Smith” kind of articles and the whole shebang was so boring, I immediately opened a bottle of Shiraz and tried to forget.
These articles all seem to be written by lazy writers who ask the same stock questions to every writer they interview, so it’s no wonder they (the authors and/or the articles) all sound like they come off an assembly line. When a real journalist is assigned to write a feature article about an emerging author (or anyone else), the first thing they need to do is learn everything they can before the interview begins. That makes each article unique, makes the subject a real person rather than just another widget, makes the source more important than the interviewer’s stock questions.
Some blogs actually have a list of stock questions for writers to answer. Purportedly, the result is supposed to sound like an interview. It doesn’t. The result is usually boring and probably costs the emerging author a lot of book sales.
Question: What were you doing when you first thought about writing this book?
Answer: I was eating a pizza.
Wow, that information’s really going to resonate with prospective readers! As an author, I’d feel so discounted if I were asked such a question, I’d probably say, “I was watching alligators have sex.”
When I read an interview with an author, I want to see questions and answers that matter.