Interviewing the Larbalestier Way
Posted on January 13, 2010 Posted by John Scalzi 7 Comments
Following up on my recent kvetch about lazy interviewers, Justine Larbalestier has a rather more useful piece up on how to interview an author. If you’re planning to do an interview of an author at any point in your life, ever, you might as well go check this out and follow its advice. The only point I quibble with is doing an interview via IM, and that’s a personal thing (done it; don’t like it) rather than something universal. Everything else is pretty on point.
I like IM interviews because it’s more fluid. You can respond to your subject instantly.
It’s also a farking pain in the ass to save, edit and format.
I think I’ve heard more authors interviewed by Fresh Air host Terry Gross, than any other source for that sort of thing. She seems to have what it takes to produce an organic dialog. I have to think that an author just wants to be engaged in a conversation, probably about his own work, since these interviews are usually about promoting the latest book.
There is a program on locally (it might be syndicated elsewhere) called The Book Show which drives me nuts. It isn’t the fact the interviewer lobs softball questions; she’s interviewing an author not grilling a politician, it’s that she gives audio oral sex to them. You don’t get any insights into their work because she’s too busy telling them how wonderful they are, how much she loved the book, this character, etc.
How about NOT liking a book for once?
Fresh Air is a 1000% better.
Terry Gross has to be one of the best interviewers around. The only problem is that half the time I’m so caught up in thinking, “Wow, that was a really good question,” that I miss the answer :-(
Terry Gross is good at being polite while getting a good interview from someone.
#3 Christopher – would that then be “aural sex?”
As to Terry Gross I agree that she is one of the best interviewers out there. Her style is engaging, as well as insightful. I find that I take away a great deal about the inspiration, the process, the idiosyncrasies of how the book/album/whatever came about. That, in turn, gives more depth to the work for me. Which sounds terribly pretentious now that I re-read that! And yet, it is what I enjoy about the ‘Big Idea’ here – I get an insight into how the book came about, often times propelling me to then look for a book that probably wouldn’t have caught my eye on the shelf previously.
As to Terry Gross I agree that she is one of the best interviewers out there. Her style is engaging, as well as insightful.
And at the risk of sounding wanky about it, Gross also gets that what she does isn’t just a bullet point on a marketing plan or time-filling fluff. It seems to me that intelligent cultural discussion, analysis and debate is as much part of a healthy culture as the work itself.