Sunday, July 13, 2008

What makes a good interview?

Since this is a craft blog, I'm probably not asking in the right place!

However, I'm wondering whether there is a "one size fits all" interview, or whether interview questions and answers ought to be carefully tailored according to whether the majority of those likely to read the interview are readers who want to know more about the author, and some insider secrets behind the writing of the book, or writers who want to know what works for other writers in the sfr genre.

I've just had the privilege of being interviewed by our Heather of Galaxy Express, who asks the best and most insightful questions ever! Also by Mandy Roth and Michelle Pillow, who ask a mean (in a good way) question or six.

Almost every interviewer, whether for a craft site or a review site, asks which authors I believe have influenced me. My answer to that never changes. Now, I don't mind in the least being asked a question I can answer on autopilot.

However, I cannot help wondering whether readers are interested. If so, why?

Another question which I completely understand for writers' groups and craft blogs is which How-To-Write-Science-Fiction books I recommend. But, do you think readers who are not writers are interested?

How much of a list is appropriate before a bibliography becomes boring?

Don't we all list the same --mostly Writers' Digest published-- books and authors? The Physics of Star Trek - L. Krauss
How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy - Orson Scott Card
Conceiving the Heavens- M. Scott
The Science of Star Wars- J. Cavelos
World Building - Stephen L. Gillett
Aliens and Alien Societies - Stanley Schmidt
Writers Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe--George Ochoa and Jeffrey Osier

If I have overlooked some superb resources, please do add other recommendations as Comments, and a brief word why they are tops in your opinion. I'll add them to a Listmania and give commentators credit.

By the way, last evening, I made a Listmania list on because it is so much more fun to show cover art, and I did the same thing with a Top Ten list on

(If anyone takes a look and likes my list or lists, a "Helpful" click would be much appreciated!)

Moreover, if the authors on this list would like to put a "being interviewed tip" in the comments, maybe I could assemble a Listmania with their cover and their tip, and we'd have something helpful and promotional on Amazon etc.

This is the cover of the ARCs for Knight's Fork that I'm doing privately. It's astonishing to me that it is cheaper to put together a POD, than it is to photocopy and spiral bind galleys! Moreover, it's tidier, and a lot more special looking.

For the next few days, there's an ARC being given away to one of the people who comments on the Rowena Cherry Author Feature at:

I believe that I'm also giving away another ARC in one of the contests being run from my newsletter on my website.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry


  1. Heather interviewed me for the Galaxy Express too, and posted it this past Thursday. She does a great job and, yanno, I had no idea I was the solar system's Number 1 Cheerleader for Science Fiction Romance. Personally, I think she's about to overtake me!

  2. Kimber An, no way! I could never fill your shoes. I'm glad you understood the questions because after I sent them I started to second guess myself.

    Rowena, what made the interview complete were your savvy answers. I could tell you "got" them. We'll have a blast during your upcoming Author Supernova. Thanks for your kind words.

    As to whether "one size fits all", my thought is that there's a reason artists do so many interviews. Different groups/mags/sites/blogs have different angles. Then there's the subjectivity factor & personality of the particular interviewer. I'm assuming there'll be a level of tailoring because of this factor.

    I suppose I've gotten a little fatigued by reading interviews about my favorite artists and encountering the same questions in various ones. Invariably they lead to the same answers which is of course repetitive. If I'm reading lots of interviews it's because I hope to learn something new each time.

    So I personally, as a reader, would love to see more variety and creativity in interview questions. I love behind the scenes material and anything that reveals something about an artist's creative process.

    On the other hand, interviews are also promotional tools so I can understand why the same questions are asked--otherwise there's the risk the info doesn't get out there.

  3. Good morning, Worlds!

    Kimber, I love your sword slashing atavar!

    Heather, thank you for your thoughtful, and gracious, response.

    I followed through with the Listmania on Amazon, and was astounded to see how many had allegedly read them. IMHO, to promote the genre and your Galaxy Express site, you could do a Listmania of your 10 best interview answers so far.


  4. On one list an author recently commented about the prevalence of unimaginative interviews in which the interviewer asks the usual questions, such as how the author began her writing career. Well, I must admit I have a standard list of "one size fits all" questions for my monthly newsletter interviews. I'm personally interested in hearing about an author's beginnings and influences, and if the reader has never read an interview with that author before, that information will be new to him or her. If I already know something about the author that lends itself to an additional, customized question, I'll sometimes insert one. But mainly my interview questions are the same every month. This is for a brief newsletter. For other interview venues, I agree originality is desirable, and certainly creative questions and answers are fun to read. (However, I would have trouble answering such questions as what color or kind of tree I'd want to be, so I don't ask them.)

  5. "Almost every interviewer, whether for a craft site or a review site, asks which authors I believe have influenced me. .... However, I cannot help wondering whether readers are interested. If so, why?"

    Well, if an author I don't know from Adam says she is greatly influenced by Lois McMaster Bujold and thinks Patricia Briggs is the best writer ever, you can bet I'll hunt down her books. If an author I do know says that, I'll be reminded to dig her out of the TBR pile. The theory, at least among non-authors, is that authors are going to write what they like to read.