Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tricks to Remedy Stale Interview Questions

As an author, I've been the interviewee enough times to know that on a book blog-tour the same questions get asked a LOT. They start to feel stale pretty fast. With a new release coming soon and hoping to make some rounds on the blogs, this topic has been on my mind a bit.

The answers to standard get-to-know-the-author questions are what they are and they aren't going to change much. {Name, kids/pets, other interests, etc., etc.} There's got to be some mathmatical equation to note how much 'relatability' needs to be mixed with 'unique and fun personality' to create an ideal 'sell yourself' moment where you shine, because no one wants to fade into the background utterly forgettable.

I do not know this equation, I cannot tell you the secret. But I can tell you how to read more into a mediocre question. Good interviewers will ask questions that open the door to interesting answers, Example: When did you know you wanted to be writer?
Answer: Don't say 'since I was {insert age here} and leave it at that. (See below.) Insert a story. Maybe there was a big storm. The one where the electric had been knocked out and you were so scared, but your little sister was cuddling the dog and you didn't have anything to cuddle with for security so you hid under the covers with a flashlight and a notebook and distracted yourself by writing...and the next day, you re read it and just knew.

The tough stuff is identifying how to build up those questions that are answerable with one word. Example: How long have you been writing?
Answer: 25 years.  
       Short, sweet, and true. But it could be more. Can you, the storyteller, find a story answer? Maybe You know, when I overcame my phonics-troubles in second grade, I started putting together little books for my friends. About their dogs and cats being friends and going on adventures.

Something to remember, if you're doing a blog interview, most of the folks reading it will be followers of that blog who may be brand new to you as an author. Sure, some of your fans will go see what you said, but in all likelihood they already know you're a Trekkie with a big rottweiler-like dog. These fans are looking for the other information, about the new book. This is why I love KAK's suggestion from yesterday to leave an Easter Egg trail. You could even have a quiz on your website at the end of the blog tour and those who answer all the questions right are entered into a drawing...if you want to give readers a quiz to take that is.  Jeffe's post from Monday suggests keeping notes when drafting/revising your book, and that could help you build the trail.

For blog interviews done remotely, you often get the questions in advance. I'm guilty of having standard' answers prepared by cutting and pasting from a former interview. I've also considered putting some of those on a FAQ page on my website, so I can eliminate the less engaging questions by directing folks to the website, but why would I want to waste the space on non-necessary or non-engaging stuff?

For blog interviews done in person, I ask for the questions in advance so I can give consideration to what I want to say. I hate dead air time as much as anyone listening, and I don't want to sit there in silence hoping a lucid thought springs into my noggin. If I have had a chance to consider the question and the overall interview, I know where to insert my humorous story and where to be witty.

In the convention guest of honor one-on-one interview panel form, the lively author who can turn every question into a fun story is entertaining. Some folks are naturals at working the crowd. I do not count myself among them, but then I've never been a GOH or givven a live interview at a con.

That's all I've got right now, but I've enjoyed my cohort's posts so far and look forward to what the rest of them say as the week goes on.  Enjoy!!!