A lot of people have had very kind words for the author interviews here on helluo librorum, and I really appreciate folks who take a moment to comment. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have hosted some exceptional authors, and I believe the authors’ answers really make the interviews worth reading. They usually enjoy the questions I ask, and of course, innovative questions give authors an opportunity to expand on the subjects that interest them.
So how do you come up with good questions? Here are a few tricks I use:
- Find other interviews with the author on different blogs and websites and read them. This will give you a feel for how the author answers questions. You will also see how often an author has been asked about the themes of their novels or other redundant questions you may want to avoid.
- Of course, the whole point behind any author interview is to give the author a chance to talk about their latest release, so no matter how many times you’ve seen that question on someone else’s blog, you should have it in your list of questions. Alex Bledsoe told me that it was his job as the author to find interesting ways to comment on some of the same questions he’d encountered. He does a splendid job keeping his interview responses fresh and insightful.
- Read the author’s book(s) and look for literary themes in the novel(s). Even if you guess wrong on the theme, you will give the author an opporunity to clarify misunderstandings about the novel.
- Always give the author the chance to back out of questions. I had one question I posed to Alex Bledsoe that he couldn’t figure out a way to answer without giving away a plotline. Given the beauty of Alex’s novels are they hover between fantasy and mystery, we had to let the question slide.
- Check out the author’s blog and see what subjects interest them and why.
- Try and end each interview with a different concluding question. Lisa Mannitti was my first author interview. She really taught how me how to write an interview that would be enjoyed by both the author and the readers.
Some of these suggestions are intuitive, however, the biggest secret to conducting a great author interview is merely good, old-fashioned research. Sometimes I feel a little like a stalker, but in the end, I’m able to obtain a slim grasp of what a particular author likes to talk about. Then I just let them write and post their words.
Of course, the research that goes into interviews is why I find it difficult to interview someone when I haven’t read their book(s). I don’t feel like I have enough information about them to give them an opportunity to really shine. That’s when I usually ask for a guest post from the author.
A guest post gives an upcoming or just published author a chance to get their name out before the public. Some really great things have been happening to four authors that I know. I thought the best way to share them with you would be to have them all do a guest post for helluo librorum.
Coming in June 2010 will be four guest posts, beginning with Jen K. Blom, whose middle grade novel, Possum Summer, will be published in the Fall of 2011; Jen will be followed by my good blogging and OWW friend, Peter Cooper, whose young adult fantasy, The Ghost of Ping-Ling, will be published in 2011; Hilary Wagner, whose middle grade fantasy, Nightshade City, will be published in October 2010 will talk about her writing secrets; and of course, we must have a horror author included in this line-up, so Michael M. Hughes is stepping up to the plate to wind-up our June guest-blogger month. Michael’s novel Cabal is being considered for publication as we speak, so keep your fingers crossed for him!
Meanwhile, you tell me: do you enjoy conducting author interviews or hosting guest bloggers on your blog? If so, you do how you come up with your questions for your authors?