One of the things I like best about my work at All About Romance is interviewing authors. Over the years, I’ve gotten to ask questions about books I loved or at least liked. In fact, my main two criteria for an author interview these days are these: I’ve read their most recent book and I enjoyed it.
When I began doing author interviews here, I didn’t have those two guidelines. Then several years ago, I agreed to interview an author before I’d read one of her books. I read her latest and couldn’t stand it. I’d already committed to the interview, so, I did it. And hated it. I didn’t have any interesting questions about the book and the whole thing seemed to be a waste of time for all concerned.
Ever since then, I’ve–with the exception of interviews at national conferences where my interest is in letting our readers know what authors are up to–limited my interviews.
I don’t think this is a bad policy but I have decided it’s one I should be clear about, especially to our readers. For me, an interview is not a review. In a review, I assess a book and share that assessment. I’m a cheerleader for books I’ve read and loved and a basher of those I’ve loathed. In an interview, I have a different role. I’m interested in learning, from the author, how they write and why. I’m asking them to take the time to share their secrets with me and AAR.
And it does take time. I do my interviews via email. I usually contact an author rather than the other way around. I’m usually interested in asking about her latest book. I send her questions–more than six, less than sixteen. I try and ask questions that I’ve not seen answered elsewhere. The author then sends me back the answers, by the date we’ve agreed on. I look them over and see if the interview feels complete. If it doesn’t, I send back more questions or variations of the questions I’ve already asked. Once I’ve gotten all the answers, I add formatting and info about the author, send it to her again in order for her to make sure she’s said exactly what she wants to, and then I publish it.
I’m uncomfortable doing this about a book I didn’t like. I’m also uninspired to do it about a book I didn’t like.
This all seems reasonable to me. Does it to you? I’m genuinely curious. I’d appreciate your feedback.