On 25 May 2015, I had my very first author interview with Kelly Blanchard. I’ve been the interviewer before, but never the interviewee. I must admit, I was more than a bit nervous. I’ve read plenty of author interviews before. Most are dull, to say the least. I was definitely afraid of being another one of those dull, lifeless interviews. I am just getting started in writing, and I thought the last thing I needed was to hamstring myself by seeming boring or uninspired.
As it turned out, I need not have feared. Kelly’s style for this interview is not the same as the standard author interview. Instead, she swept me into a wonderful imaginary world, Kelly’s Muse Shop. Instead of a boring and predictable set of questions, we co-wrote a story. Each of us wrote ourselves as a character in this story. Kelly did a great job of putting me at ease in this format, so I quickly adjusted. Instead of feeling nervous or tongue tied, I was simply writing. I have written lots of stories, so I was able to ease into this familiar mindset relatively quickly.
So, what were the strengths and weaknesses of this format? Why did I enjoy the interview so much? Well, as I said, writing a story is familiar territory. In addition to writing, I have spent a lot of time playing tabletop role playing games. It is easy for me to get into the mindset of playing a character; much easier than just answering questions across a computer screen. I didn’t feel as though I was on display in the interview. Rather, this was just another character I was writing and playing. I think many authors, especially newer authors, may be able to identify with this feeling.
In addition to being a more comfortable format, by writing myself I think readers get a better sense of who I am and whether or not they might be interested in more of my writing. They get to see my writing style first hand. They get to hear my voice as an author. They get to see my descriptions, reactions, and body language. They get to hear my thoughts as I react to Kelly’s questions and the setting. As a reader, this is the sort of information I would like to know when looking at a new author and deciding whether or not to purchase their books or read their work. As a newer author, this is the information I want my potential readers to have. I want to interest them in my work first. In my mind, if they are interested in my process or inspiration or any of the other standard author interview material, it will be because they first found something they like in my author’s voice or work.
As for the weaknesses of the format, well, it is unusual. I did not quite know what to expect. I think I got a bit of a slow start as a result. On the other hand, I’m often a bit guarded when I first meet a new person, so this, too, was an accurate representation of who I am. I can see this format taking a lot more time and work than the average author interview. It is a co-writing exercise, so it seems like it would come with all the regular pitfalls of co-writing. A lot of the time and space in the interview can be taken up by things other than questions and answers, too. It is probably not the best format for more standard profile pieces that try to provide a lot of straight facts or opinions from the author.
This style is not right for everyone. I could easily see the format tripping up some people, especially those who might be used to more standard interviews. A lot of the benefit in this style comes from the opportunity to describe body language, reactions, and inner thoughts. Someone who does not do well with those aspects of writing might make a poor interview subject or interviewer in this format. It could also serve as a great opportunity to develop those skills by placing them in a new context. It will be interesting for me to see how this aspect plays out in other interviews done with this format.
Overall, I had a great time with this interview. I think it was a great introduction to being the subject of an interview. I would happily do more interviews in this format because it was so enjoyable. I would also love to see more interviewers adopt this style. I think Kelly has invented an interesting way to include new and valuable information in author interviews. I am definitely looking forward to reading some of the other interviews Kelly is doing in this style when she starts publishing them.
I have another interview with Kelly coming up. This time, she will be interviewing one of my characters on his home turf. I am eagerly looking forward to it.