Monday, January 10, 2011

Interview Questions

As a freelance writer, I've interviewed dozens of authors in the past few years. This week I have a deadline to come up with interview questions for a romantic suspense author, whose book I just finished reading. I really enjoyed her book. The story is fresh and suspenseful. It kept my attention and interest until the end. I've interviewed this author in the past, so I want to keep my questions fresh.

The writer in me wants to focus my questions on her writing process: where she gets her ideas, how she develops her characters, does she outline or plunge ahead, how does she research the technical parts of the book, and the like. My editor wants the focus to be on the author's present book. Generally, I try to do both; weave in writing-related questions while bringing out highlights of the current novel. That's not always easy.

Without mentioning the author's name, I'd like your opinion:

1. If you were interviewing a romantic suspense writer, what questions would you ask?

2. Now for the big question: If you could interview any writer (living or dead), who would it be, and what would you ask them?

One dead writer I would like to interview is Mark Twain. I'd want to know what he thinks about the rewrite of Huck Finn to make it more politically correct. I bet he would come up with a zinger of an answer.


  1. Hi Donna. I don't think I can come up with any questions....I'd have to read the book first, I guess! AND, I agree about Mark Twain! Would love to just sit and listen to him for hours! If I could choose one writer to interview, I'd have to say my hero...Erma Bombeck!

  2. Hi Becky,
    Erma is a good choice.

  3. One question I'm always interested in re the process in general is what comes first in the writer's mind - the character or the plot? Does the scenario present itself first or does the character emerge first and then the plot grows from that character?

    Hope the interview goes well!

  4. Hi Madeline,
    Thanks. That's a great suggestion.

  5. I might ask, "Why the combo? Why not straight romance or straight suspense? What strengths do both genres have that lend themselves to each other, and what is the biggest challenge with blending them together in a novel?"

    Lame, I know...I'm not too inspired right now.

    I would love to talk to Marilyn French about how her novel, "The Women's Room" came about.(And I'd like to thank her.) I'd be thrilled to talk to Fannie Flagg and pick her brain...Was she always a writer, but just kept her talent hidden for years and years? Just sitting around and watching Kurt Vonnegut write, or Stephen King, would be great...

  6. Hey Donna, I would ask the author who they read for entertainment, who they read that made them want to write. I would like to talk to Francine Rivers and hear her testimony.

  7. Hi Donna!
    Thanks for stopping by! Guess what? I'm originally from MO, too! Small wonderful world, eh?
    As for questions to ask...sorry. NONE are popping up right now. I liked the one about "Why the combo" from Sioux Roslawski.
    As for interviewing an author..I would love to hear Mark Twain's answer to your question. I had been wondering that same thing a few days ago when I heard all about it. But, since I should choose someone else I think I'd have to pick Max Lucado. Not really sure why, other then he writes for adults and for kids and that intrigues me.

  8. Hi Sioux,
    All the writers you mentioned would be great. I'd ask Fannie Flagg which is more fun, writing or acting.

    Hi Sally,
    That's a great suggestions.

    Hi MaDonna,
    Mark Twain and Max Lucado would be an interesting combination.

    Thanks, everyone, for your ideas. They help a lot!


  9. Balancing between the writer's process and her work is a good idea, keeping in mind that the editor is most interested in selling the book. A good starting point is always asking where she got the idea for the story.

    Who would I interview? There are so many authors that I admire, I couldn't possibly choose only one, though I must admit an affinity for southern writers.



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