Tuesday, January 31, 2017

3 Ways To Spice Up Stale Interview Questions

You're about to launch your latest novel. You're booking blog tours, podcast chats, and vlog interviews. Somewhere after the fourth set of questions, you detect a pattern...or the Borg's latest conquest.  How do you keep from sounding like vinyl with a deep scratch? 3 Ways! (Erm, those too, if that's your thing.)

3 Ways To Spice  Up Canned Interview Responses

1. Know The Audience
Before you agree to any interview, you should be a little familiar with host and the audience the blog/ vlog/podcast/broadcast attracts. The first reason is to protect you and your brand from unwittingly participating in something hosted by someone whose platform you find objectionable. E.g. after reading James's passionate and moving post yesterday, it is safe to assume he wouldn't want to participate in a Breitbart interview. The second reason is to know how to engage their audience. Is the audience a group of  12-16-year-old aspiring authors? Over age 55 multi-published hybrid authors? Is the program faith-based? Which faith? Reenactors who are experts in their era? SFF die-hards who can craft a 4-year college program over a midday MMORPG session? Straight-shooters? Silly gooses? All of this will tell you how fast and loose you can play with your responses, whether or not dropping an f-bomb will go over well, and if you're aiming for a top-gloss answer or a composition-of-dirt detailed response.

Oh, and the best way to get this info, is to ask the person soliciting your participation. They should be able to give you a paragraph about who their audience is, what makes the program unique, and if there are any topics from which you should steer clear and/or on which you should focus. Bonus points to the interviewer if they tell you the tone of their program. Triple points if they have a running gag on the site and let you in on it.

Note: Interviewers, make it easy for potential participants to say yes by including a paragraph that covers the details above when reaching out.

2. Crack a Joke & Be Unpredictable
Armed with your info about the audience, be brave, crack a joke.  To play it safe, don't pick on a person no matter the popular sentiment.  Feeling feisty? Offer a completely unexpected answer to a frequently asked question. "Where do you get your ideas" is pretty common. Try answering with something that contrasts the tone of the rest of your interview. "From Edgie, this super fat earthworm who lives under a polished rock two miles down the path from my house. Great guy. He's not really talkative, but the things he's seen..."

3. Create Your Own Easter Egg Trail
Readers who are true fans will check out your interviews in a variety of sources. Love those readers. Respect those readers. Show them your affection (and encourage them to follow) by including a trail of hidden gems that reveal a joke or--once amassed--a short story. E.g. The third sentence of the third question of every interview is a line that comes from a piece of short fiction. Because you're an expert craftsman, you know how to make that line blend into the legit answer of the original question.

Beyond everything, have fun with your answers. Oh, and be kind to everyone, including yourself.