I stumbled across Justine Larbalestier's site explaining how to conduct an interview and complaining about blogs that do 'generic interviews'. Sites rather like mine. Here's John Scalzi explaining why he won't do such an interview (good to know). On both pages they complain that interviews don't bring in traffic.
I beg to differ. My best traffic days are ones where I have interviewed an author. Now, whether people enjoy my interviews is another question. But having the interview up attracts attention, showing (to me at least) that readers are interested in author interviews, to some extent at least.
Why do I send a form interview, with the same questions going to each author? Isn't that lazy?
In a word, yes. It is lazy. I'm doing this blog purely for fun. Unfortunately I don't have time to read everything the author's written. And since most of my interviewees are debut novelists, in most cases their book isn't even out when I interview them.
And make no mistake, even without coming up with new questions each interview they still take a fair amount of time. I have to discover who has a book coming out (I like my interviews to coincide with recent publications to showcase authors throughout the year), I have to find contact information for the author (not always easy). When they respond positively I have to remind them when the due date is coming (though this isn't always necessary). I have to read over the interviews and make sure there are no editing errors. I have to cut some answers so I only have two pages for the store (any more than that and there would be no room and a typical interview comes in at 5 pages long). I have to put up the display at the store and post the interview to my blog. I then often send a photo of the display to the author (but not always) and send a follow up email asking the author to check the blog for errors (whether in book titles or typos that were missed in the interview, etc.). This is all done in my personal time. Time I could be spending working on my own novel.
So why do I do interviews? A few years back I couldn't work a day at the bookstore without getting at least one (and generally more) person complain about the price of books. "Why do we have to pay $10 when in the US it's only $7? Don't you know the dollar's at par? Can't I pay the US price?"
I decided to post interviews with authors in the store showing the work that goes into writing a novel. So instead of asking questions about their specific work (which is, alas, only interesting to someone familiar with their work and interested in that genre) I asked general questions that could be of interest to anyone walking by who wants to know what it's like to be an author. That includes people Christmas shopping who would never read SF/Fantasy themselves but want something interesting as a gift for someone who does read the genre. That means people simply walking by the SF section who spot the double sign and wonder what it's about. I have sold many books this way. To people who wouldn't otherwise pick up fantasy or science fiction books.
It is also a good way of introducing a new author to readers. These are authors whose books are often overlooked by browsers and relatively unknown unless they have a lot of pre-publication internet buzz. I have introduced a lot of debut novelists to readers using these generic interviews.
Why keep them generic? I personally find it fascinating learning how different authors do the same things.
Did you know that Bernardine Evaristo considers writer's block a dirty word? Gail Carriger suggests reading something non-fiction that relates to your writing to get over it. Peter Brett on the other hand considers it a state of mind that writers use to defeat themselves.
Speaking of Peter Brett, did you know that he wrote The Warded Man on his smartphone while commuting to work in New York? Or that Kevin J. Anderson goes hiking and talks into a tape recorder, getting two chapters done each walk. Or that Mark Teppo doesn't get much writing done at home so he goes to coffee shops to write. Robert Bennett (whose book Mr. Shivers just came out) write a lot of his book while waiting for paint machines to reboot as part of his tech support job at Home Depot.
I have never published a boring interview, because each author brings their own slant to the questions.
But maybe I'm not a good judge of that. What do you think? Are my interviews boring? Would you stop at a store display and read one? Do you come to my blog to read any? Have you discovered a new author through one of my interviews? Are there questions you would like to see asked?