How to interview an author

Abidemi Sanusi
Oct 21, 2015 · 3 min read
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How to interview an author
How to interview an author

Image credit: Under Creative Commons

The author’s interview is a strange thing. In an ideal world, the interviewer would’ve read your book, researched your background and then, come up with insightful questions that are supposed to highlight their familiarity with your work.

The reality is different. In truth, the interviewer wouldn’t have read any of your work (probably), is not interested in your work (probably) and is only interested in your personal life (very probably).

But none of this matters, because, you, the author, are so, so, sooo happy (GRATEFUL, YAH?), that someone from the MEDIA (!!!) has expressed an interest in your work, that you agree to the interview, even if said interviewer is from Badger’s Weekly.

So, that’s the cynicism out of the way. Let’s get down to the real crux of this article. If you’ve been asked to interview an author, here are some things that authors would really like you to know. Get these right and you may even get the salacious gossip that you really, really want from the author.

Read the book. Or at least skim through it

I’ve been in enough interviews to recognise the bored look in the interviewer’s face when they see me. ‘Oh lord. A writer. Not even a celebrity. How boring’.

Yes, we know that we’re not celebrities. Yes, we know we’re not in the top 1% of writers who manage to live above the poverty line on earnings from their writing income. All we ask is that, at the very least, you skim through our books before interviewing us. That ok?

Don’t assume we’re all tortured ‘artistes’

I do not know any tortured authors. Most authors do not know any tortured authors. Like my author friends, I spend my days waking up at the crack of dawn to fit in a few writing hours before my 9–5 job, running to aforementioned 9–5, running around in the 9–5, then stumbling home after, to catch up with life, more work and everything else in between. With all that, I do not have the time to be tortured about my ‘art’.

So, when you interview us, please avoid all references to ‘how I juggle being tortured for my art with the realities of life.’ I don’t do torture. Full stop.

Don’t draw parallels between our work and our lives

While it is true that we mine our personal lives for inspiration, most often, any similarities between our work and our personal lives end at the initial idea stage. You can ask us where the inspiration for our book came from (not very original, but better than most questions), but don’t try be all pop psychology about it.

Please give us an interview. Pretty please?

Suffice to say, we’re a pretty desperate bunch. This comes from writing books with £0 marketing budget and even less energy to do the marketing work required to buy enough books to buy an americano at a hip café in Shoreditch. So, please, pretty please, give us a chance to shine by giving us some column inches on your website, blog or screen time on your YouTube channel. We would appreciate it; we really, really would.

Talking of desperate, why don’t you do some book shopping whilst you’re on this website and contribute to my coffee fund?

Muchas gracias.

Originally published at Writing website.

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