|Jake the Cat does not do interviews BTW.|
Well, I'm the Interviewer an awful lot of the time because I interview authors for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog, so perhaps my perspective on this will be a bit different. My day job nowadays is fulltime author but I also love contributing to the HEA blog, and especially discussing scifi and fantasy romance. Occasionally I interview an author like JoAnn Ross or Barbara Delinsky, someone who has always been one of my favorites as a reader, but whose writing lies primarily outside the scifi romance genre, and that's fun too.
I typically ask about five questions in one of my interviews. I always read the book first - and wow, it is fun to get one of Nalini Singh's, Ilona Andrews's or Jeffe's books in the Advance Review Copy format, months before the book is released. I've stayed up a few nights reading straight through when one of those treasures hits my kindle! If the author is someone who's been interviewed many times before, I go out and research their interviews because I don't want to ask all the same stuff if I can help it. I take it as a personal challenge, especially if they have a list of Q&A on their blog or website that covers all the standard questions. If I have a book related question that I find someone else has asked before me, I pass and try to dig deeper. I usually end up with about ten questions I'd love to ask but some of them are too nitty gritty, or purely from the author standpoint - something about how the book is written, versus things that might interest a non-author reader. So I may want to know the answer, but it's not general enough to put on HEA.
A couple of my interviews that I did by phone have turned into me-as-an-author asking another author all kinds of craft questions and sharing experiences a little. I did that with John Scalzi and also with Michelle Lovretta, the creator, Executive Producer and writer for the TV show "Killjoys." (Both of them were kind enough to indulge me, within a set time limit, and those interviews were truly hilites of life for me.) All I can do then is laugh at myself and extract the answers from my copious notes that I hope will interest readers most.
So I narrow down my piles of questions, mostly by asking myself what other readers might really like to know about the behind the scenes of a book they love. I have to be respectful of the time the authors can devote to this, even for USA Today, because they have a LOT of promo to do, and other writing commitments.
I do ask some typical questions, like what the author's office looks like, or if they have a pet, because our readers find that of interest.
There's a time and place for those quick and dirty questions - you know the ones I mean: "tea or coffee," "Star Trek or Star Wars", "cats or dogs"? If someone is interviewing me and that's what they feel their readers want to know, then I'll answer.
But my trick I learned a long time ago, is that you do NOT have to answer the question you're asked. You can always turn the answer in a direction you want it to go. "Well, actually, Blog Host Person, "Aliens" is my favorite movie franchise and here's why." Or "what an excellent question but you know the thing to me is..." and off I go to talk about whatever I actually want to talk about. You can watch celebrities do this all the time on TV, very adroitly. (Not that I'm a celebrity but they do have the technique down pat.)
And in other news, pivoting adroitly here, my science fiction romance novels Star Cruise: Outbreak and Hostage to the Stars received SFR Galaxy Awards this past week! (CRUISE got two actually...). The Pets In Space anthology also received two. I as really honored and excited! Here's the website if you'd like to check out the entire list: http://sfrgalaxyawards.blogspot.com/