20 Questions: Have you ever interviewed an author?

I was recently invited to host an interview with New York Times Best-Selling Author Kate Jacobs (of The Friday Night Knitting Club fame).  I was thrilled at such an opportunity (my first!) and hastily agreed.  After committing, something dawned on me: Unless being a rabid reader, blogger, and nosey parker were qualifications, I was completely unprepared for such an undertaking.  To interview an author, I’d have to actually think up some relevant and (hopefully) intelligent questions while trying not to sound like a blithering, green idiot or fawning, servile fan.

Calling on the skills I have honed after working for more than ten years in a high school–listen, listen, listen, don’t try to be cool, employ humor where you can, ask questions, reserve judgment, and then listen some more–I whipped up a solid list of questions in a few hours.  The fact that I’ve read and enjoyed all of Jacobs’s novels also helped.  What proved challenging was culling the list of questions!

I didn’t want to overwhelm Jacobs with a dozen questions that she’s answered a hundred times over and wanted to make sure that I covered all of her novels.  I aimed to find a balance between her books, her life and interests, and side or future projects.  I asked questions that I wanted to know the answers to–things that I hope other readers want to know too!  Did I achieve my goal?  Stop by in two weeks and you can be the judge!

Now, in my trademark educator style, I’ll throw some questions out and listen to you: Have you had the opportunity to interview an author?  Who’s your dream author interview?

16 Comments

  • At 2009.10.16 07:29, Molly said:

    Actually I have passed up on the opportunity to interview an author for this exact reason! I am petrified that I will not think of any worthy questions to ask and therefore not present the author in the best light.

    I very much look forward to reading your interview and seeing what questions you decided to use.
    .-= Molly´s last blog ..Kindle Shopping =-.

    • At 2009.10.16 09:24, Deanna/ibeeeg said:

      I have done one interview (via email) and was greatly intimidated. Mostly for the reason you spoke of {{ I didn’t want to overwhelm Jacobs with a dozen questions that she’s answered a hundred times over and wanted to make sure that I covered all of her novels}}
      Coming up with interesting and intelligent questions can be daunting.

      With that said, the one author that I would *love* to interview (if I could ever, and I mean *ever*, muster up the courage) would be Diana Gabaldon. Her work fascinates me as does how she came to be an author.

      Would love to read your interview and finding out what 20 questions you decided upon.

      • At 2009.10.16 10:26, Meg said:

        How exciting! Can’t wait to see your interview. Even though my outrage over The Friday Night Knitting Club is a scar I continue to bear to this day, despite finishing the novel months ago!

        Working in journalism should be a reason I’m totally not afraid to do author interviews, but the idea of it does make nervous! I haven’t interviewed anyone for my blog yet, but perhaps that time will come! For the moment, I’m sticking to what I do best… writing book snippets and self-deprecating blog posts 🙂 haha
        .-= Meg´s last blog ..Booking Through Thursday: Weeding =-.

        • At 2009.10.16 10:46, Natalie said:

          Meg, my mom also howled in protest over TFNKC’s plot twist and suggested I let Kate Jacobs know that she was not pleased. 🙂 Um, okay Mom! Could you imagine how funny that line of questioning would be?

          I can just see it now:

          Nat: Ms. Jacobs, my mom was really unhappy with one aspect of your novel. Could you address that, please?

          (imaginary) Kate J.: She was? Oh, dear! In that case I’d better go rewrite the novel. What turn of events would your mom prefer?

          Hahaha!

          • At 2009.10.16 12:51, Ti said:

            I’ve interviewed a few and although I was completely intimidated by the entire process, the authors that I talked to were WAY cool and that made me feel a lot better about the process. Coming up with questions that have not been asked before seemed to be the main challenge but I think it’s good to keep it sort of broad so that the author can take it where they want it to go. Does that make sense? Yes or no answers are not very interesting to read.

            That said, I would love to interview Dean Koontz. I am not much of a thriller reader now, but he was the first author that I stood in line to meet (over 6 hours in line) and he waited all day to see me. I thought for sure his publicist would usher him off (and that wench tried!) but he stuck around and I thought that was very cool of him.
            .-= Ti´s last blog ..Friday Finds: Under the Dome =-.

            • At 2009.10.16 19:07, trish said:

              I’ve interviewed a few authors, including Kate Jacobs. I think they’re a lot of work because I want to ask intelligent questions that they haven’t heard yet!

              I think my dream author to interview would be Wally Lamb. I saw him on his book tour for The Hour I First Believed, and he’s just an amazing person.

              • At 2009.10.16 21:27, Natalie said:

                Trish,
                I remember you mentioning Wally Lamb–I just finished listening to The Hour I First Believed. I sort of struggled with it–could so much tragedy really befall one person? It left me feeling overwhelmed!

                • At 2009.10.16 22:29, Jenners said:

                  I think you sound well-prepared. I’ve only done two author interviews and was totally stressed like you!!!! Good luck .. I”m sure you rocked it.
                  .-= Jenners´s last blog ..3rd Quarter Wrap-Up =-.

                  • At 2009.10.17 00:32, Lisa said:

                    My face to face book club does Skype calls with authors and we always have to have questions ready. It is so much harder than I would have thought. Particularly since you have no idea how much you’re going to get back from the author.
                    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Friday Favorite – "Chesapeake" by James Michener =-.

                    • […] ~ Natalie at Book, Line, and Sinker is talking about author interviews. […]

                      • At 2009.10.17 06:08, Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said:

                        I have done a few interviews via email, but never face to face. I think it is really hard to do a good interview. 90% of the ones I read are dull (including my own!) I’m not going to do an interview for a while – I feel I need to learn how to do them before attempting another one. I’d love to know the secret, so if you find out please do a post!
                        .-= Jackie (Farm Lane Books)´s last blog ..2666 – Roberto Bolaño. Part 5: The Part About Archimboldi =-.

                        • At 2009.10.18 09:23, randy russell said:

                          Who to interview: Diablo Cody, because I have seen her interviewed and she gives wonderful answers. Really, truly, it’s up to the author to be interesting. The questions are simply an opportuntity for them to talk in a way that interests other people.
                          .-= randy russell´s last blog ..What’s NOT a Ghost – And What Is =-.

                          • At 2009.10.18 16:15, Kathy said:

                            Congratulations on your first author interview! What a great one to start out with! I have had the opportunity to interview authors and it’s so much fun – not sure who my dream author would be though.
                            .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Weekend Fun =-.

                            • At 2009.10.19 10:11, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

                              My general rule of thumb is to ask questions I want to know the answers to, and that has worked pretty well so far. I would love to ask Anita Shreve some questions or Kooser or Komunyakaa questions.

                              • At 2009.10.22 21:45, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

                                On my blog I always ask for guest posts instead of interviews because I’m horrid at thinking up questions.
                                .-= Jen – Devourer of Books´s last blog ..The Kingmaking – Book Review =-.

                                • At 2009.10.29 12:48, Kari said:

                                  Congrats! I’ve had the opportunity to interview a couple of authors, and I think it’s so much fun. Questions were a little difficult to think of at first, but then I started to think of it more like a conversation. If I were an author, what would I want to tell my readers that they can’t get from the back of the book? I hate the question that says, “Tell me about your book.” A few book related questions are ok, but I like to go beyond and find out about them outside of books or of what you can Google.

                                  I can’t really think of who I’d want to interview…hard question!
                                  .-= Kari´s last blog ..Awards Time =-.

                                  (Required)
                                  (Required, will not be published)

                                  CommentLuv badge