As an author, you will be doing interviews during the publication process and afterwards. There are many opportunities locally in Las Vegas, but reach beyond and create an online presence.
Some interviews are structured with carefully crafted questions and answers, others as casual conversation.
Online interviews are the easiest so let’s start with those. Visit websites dedicated to your genre or to profiling authors. Send a friendly email with information about your book or upcoming book, and ask if they would consider interviewing you.
Many questions in the straight Q&A format are so over-used or irrelevant, the result is boring. There are a ton of stock questions, and often interviewers appreciate suggestions for new areas they can explore. Maybe there is some sage advice you would like your readers to know that doesn’t fall under the typical, What suggestions do you have to offer aspiring writers. Perhaps you want to talk about an experience that you know will be great because no one besides you and a few friends or family know about it. Beyond that, the structure of the interview is important. Look for a smooth flow–one that creates arcs just as you do in your novels and stories.
It isn’t unusual for online interviewers to simply submit a list of questions and ask you to supply the answers. Consider the questions carefully. The answers trigger an impression about you, your characters or your techniques in bonding with your audience.
Things to ask yourself
Before reviewing the questions,consider the tone you want to use for your answers. Will you offer humorous answers, educational answers in precise language, a conversational, chatty tone or what? Is there an opportunity to slide in subliminal promotional mentions of your other books, columns or that you’re available to speak to groups, and do it in a way that doesn’t take over the interview? How much detail should you provide? This is all important.
What readers might want to know
Readers often want to know things they haven’t learned in other interviews. After all, how many times does the reader want to read the same stock answer to a question posed the same way by multiple interviewers? Not that many.
Try to provide the interviewer with something they can use to couch the question a different way, or suggest adding questions or taking some out. If you do this, the interviewer might ignore your suggestions, but on the other hand, they might be delighted at ways to spice things up.
Here’s an example of a spin on the typical question: Where do you get your ideas? Maybe you’ve had a real “dust-up” with an HOA president and that creates an opportunity to talk about something specific. Hey, this is one of my own. I’m waiting for the opportunity to slide it into an interview and have threatened many times to use it in a story.
Interviewer: Authors get ideas in many ways. I understand you’ve been toying with something that happened quite a while ago involving an HOA. Care to share?
Author: Talk about ideas, I have to find a way to use this one. It did happen years ago and involved the President of the HOA for the complex we lived in at the time. He made our life hell and I’ve wanted to get even for so long. As a mystery author I dream about killing him—in print, of course.
Interviewer: But you haven’t done it yet, have you?
Author: No, I haven’t come up with just the right story. But it will happen. He will be floating in the pool, slumped in the lobby, cracked over the head, fed poisoned mushrooms—see, there are just so many ways to do it depending upon the story.
Interviewer: And when you finally write it, do you hope he will read it and know it’s him?
Author: Can’t happen. He had the nerve to really die a few years ago before I could do him in.
Something like that has lots more oomph than dry questions and answers. It would be a natural segue to discuss various kinds of mystery novels the author has written and whether there was similar motivation. Another topic could be why mystery writers choose certain ways to do people in.
Next week we will talk about other types of interviews.
MORGAN ST. JAMES writes Writers tricks of the trade, filled with tips, tricks and techniques for published and aspiring writers, every Thursday in the Las Vegas edition and every Friday in the Los Angeles edition. Coming late in 2011, the handy book: Writers’ Tricks of the Trade: 39 Things You Need to Know About Writing Fiction will be released.
FOR MORE INFORMATION about Morgan visit her websites: www.morganstjames-author.com, www.silversistersmysteries.com, and www.devils-dance.com. The new Silver Sisters Mystery, Vanishing Act in Vegas, is due out later this year. Morgan talks about anything that comes to mind on her new blog http://morgan-stjames.blogspot.com, including the HOA incident referred to above!