A Few Questions for the Author

A lot of authors like to be interviewed. They enjoy talking about writing and they particularly enjoy talking about their own writing. They like to talk about their process, their characters, their inspiration, their approaches and devices and genres and heroes.

I have been the subject of a few author interviews. I don’t do many anymore. Part of the reason for this is that I genuinely find it incredibly boring to talk about myself.

To be honest, another part of the reason has to do with some of the interview questions. I always feel as if I’m undergoing some sort of cleverly disguised psychiatric evaluation and not doing very well. I don’t know what kind of tree I’d be if I were a tree. There is no group of five authors living or dead with whom I’d like to have lunch (especially the dead ones). If I were stranded on a desert island, I’d want a knife, not a book. One of the questions a lot of interviewers ask is, “What is your favorite color?” I do not understand this question. I like black, but not in teeth or bananas. Blue is nice, but it is an ominous color for skin (sorry, Avatar fans). I often say my favorite color is clear. Clear goes with anything, and should you be coughing something up, clear is the best color by far.

The confluence of these factors, in combination with my basic je ne sais quoi, has produced interviews that were what some may call unusual. Before Brooks joined Indies Unlimited as my co-administrator, she invited me to do an interview for her blog WriteWriteWrite. I thought it odd to have to submit to a criminal background check as part of an author interview, but as you can tell by the fact Brooks joined the blog anyway, background checks don’t catch everything.

Ms. Brooks is very highly organized and she solicits these interviews months before she actually schedules them. When she did finally get around to reading my interview, she asked me, “Do you even want to try to sell any books?” That’s right, she italicized the word try. I distinctly remember it.

To understand why she asked that (if you don’t already know) here are the answers I gave to a few of her questions:

What is your favorite part of being a writer?
The fame, adulation and money.

What is your least favorite part?
There has been no fame, adulation or money.

What part of your writing makes you particularly proud?
I think maybe I’m most proud of the nouns.

How do you use the internet for your writing?
Why? What have you heard? Those files were on my computer when I bought it.

If only it stopped there. Ed McNally has a wonderful interview feature at his blog, Sable City. Since I was trying to lure him to Indies Unlimited and wanted a chance to snoop around at his blog, I acquiesced. Here are a few from his interview of me:

How do your characters get their names?
I try to name my characters after people who won’t sue me. As I am dirt poor, the world is my oyster in this regard. I do tend to name villains after people in real life who, for one reason or another have vexed me. Hence, the villain in my next book, the evil Honcho McNally.

Three random things about yourself, please.
1). I am the kind of man whose integrity is not for sale except to the highest bidder. 2). I got the music in me. I’m okay now, though. 3). There are really only two random things about me. This is not one.

The Facebook group Book Junkies also has a quarterly online magazine called the Book Junkies’ Journal. Against all sound advice to the contrary, I was asked as a favor to a friend to do an interview for their very first issue. Here are a few excerpts from that:

What are your first thoughts when you wake up in the morning?
Usually, I’m wondering what time the guards will be round with breakfast.

If you had a time machine, what era would you travel back/forward to?
I think I would have to do something I feel would really make a difference for all humanity, so I would go back in time and stop George Lucas from making episodes I, II, and III of the Star Wars saga.

What is your idea of a good night out?
I’m satisfied with small things these days. If the hail of bullets miss me, that’s enough to make me happy.

The internet is strewn with even more examples of this cavalier nonsense, but I am in danger of exceeding my own rule about the maximum number of links to be included in an article. I don’t want Google to think we are a “Gateway” site.

It is an honor to be asked for an interview. I don’t misbehave because I don’t recognize that. But if the purpose of an interview is to acquaint the reader with the real me—that is the real me. I can (and do) write stuff that is dark, deep, serious, thoughtful, or sexy.

On the whole though, I find life is too absurd to take seriously. I can understand how that could be off-putting to someone who really does want to know what I would choose for my last meal, or in what era other than this one I’d prefer to have lived.

I’ve been on the other end of the interview as well, so I can appreciate the difficulties inherent in dealing with someone who does not take the interview seriously. This is another reason I tend to avoid interviews. Certainly there are far better subjects for a serious interview. Trust me. It’s for the best.

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Stephen Hise is an author and the Founder and Evil Mastermind of Indies Unlimited. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and his website: http://stephenhise.com/

Author: Stephen Hise

Stephen Hise is the Evil Mastermind and founder of Indies Unlimited. Hise is an independent author and an avid supporter of the indie author movement. Learn more about Stephen at his website or his Amazon author page.

37 thoughts on “A Few Questions for the Author”

  1. I enjoy your "out of left field" answers here, Stephen. And it's true: I did learn something about you.

    Uh-oh. Now I have to look up "out of left field." I should not use an idiom when I don't know its origin. But I did it anyway, out of whim.

    1. Okay. I looked it up. The only definition of "left field" I could find is the familiar reference to baseball. So I guess a ball coming "out of left field" would be more of a surprise than one coming out of right field.

      1. Trish, I am so far out of left field that the light from left field won't reach me for 1,000 years. I can see Rich Meyer just fine though.

  2. But I love reading your answers to interviews. They are so funny, witty, and off the cuff, and I wish I could be more like you. I'm way too serious, so that is why I like reading what you have to say. I hate doing interviews because I can't think of funny things and I don't believe I'm anything special that people would want to know anything about me (probably why I don't get asked to do a lot of them, lol) except the fact I have been to a lot of places, I have lived in a lot of places and hope to go to a lot more places.

    Don't stop doing the interviews, Stephen, and make sure I hear about them, lol.

  3. Evil Mastermind, I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one you used your brilliant invention on – your Automated Sales-Inhibiting Interview Answer Generator appears to be working quite well.


    1. Don't get sassy with me, Brooks! I know you have a hidden treasure trove of my "recently discovered" manuscripts, just waiting to capitalize on my being eaten by koalas or some such thing.

  4. You are a funny bloke, Steve – that's why everyone wants to interview you! I've only been asked to do an interview once (still have NO idea why) and I managed to get out of it. It was a close call. I must tell my publicity team that I am not available for interview. 😉

    1. I think you'd make a fascinating subject for an interview, Cathy. Not only do you know where all the bodies are buried, you put most of them there.

  5. I would like to know who you would punch if you could punch one person with no repercussions (JD is not an acceptable answer).

  6. The only person in the world who find it boring talking about themselves! Kudos!

    I share your wonder at the interview questions we get sent.

    Apart from "Why do you write", a question I think should draw a compulsory punishment of being tazed on the genitals, they're so staggering boring and irrelevant.

    I write my own questions and answers or I don't do it.

    Might get you to ghostwrite some.

    I did that with one blogger and she went back and stuck little comments among them, so I opted out.

    I don't understand it.

    But congratulations for contributing to the general level of misunderstanding. 🙂

  7. I love it. I feel like the guy in the Bible who went looking for one honest man(writer). Interviews have become something of a necessary evil in the age of networking, but I think it's a mistake to assume that a bevy of adoring fans are hanging on an author's every syllable. A good interview has thoughtful questions that provoke thoughtful answers and reads like a conversation. That rarely happens with a one size fits all approach.

  8. I'm with you, Evil Mastermind. When people want to interview me, I cringe. Why? I'm dull. M characters are the interesting ones. That's why they have stories.

    My answers end up not being what they wanted, and I get a follow up email asking for more serious answers. Blah. Unfortunately, they do seem to be a necessary evil at times. But I figure if I can't have fun with them, why should I bother? I commend you on doing the same. Some of us are naturally quirky and playful.

    BC Brown Books ~ Paranormal, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy

    "Because Weird is Good."

  9. I too hate giving interviews and usually I don't derive much pleasure from reading about other authors.

    However, today I was in for a surprise – I loved your responses. You are very quick witted and hugely entertaining. This is clearly why you are the Evil Mastermind and we are mere minions.

    As for Ed Mcnally – he was the best interviewer I have met in a long time. He allowed me come up with all sorts of craziness and kept a straight face at all times.

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