Can any idiot do an interview?

Reader Logo by Ann Giles aka The Bookwitch

Jacqueline Wilson was my first. If you are to do it, why not start at the top? Now, I have to point out that I didn’t just wake up one morning saying to myself “Hmm, I think I’ll take up interviewing authors from now on”.

No, it was much worse than that. A year earlier I had accidentally (how clumsy can you get?) arranged an interview slot for The Son to interview Philip Pullman. And having witnessed what my child did, I thought “I could do that”.

For a socially inept bore, that is a fairly silly conclusion to arrive at. Just as I knew from an early age that vegetarianism wasn’t for me on account of carrots being so awful, I have always known that the face-to-face aspect of journalism was so not me. I won’t claim that I now eat a raw carrot before every interview, but I have broken with both those childhood preconceptions.

My first opportunity had me request meetings with both Jacqueline Wilson and Eoin Colfer; another not terribly minor name in the children’s book world.

Starting up my Bookwitch blog meant that I had somewhere to publish interviews, without having to charm any un-charmable editors. I already knew quite a number of possible subjects, having written to many a poor author over the years, and felt I could start by asking them.

Imagine my surprise when instead Puffin asked me to interview Melvin Burgess, who was already on my hit-list. In those days I felt I could only “do” someone whose work I knew well. I was sick and tired of interviews done by great writers for respectable newspapers, who don’t know their subject and who either make mistakes or chew over the same ground for the umpteenth time. Occasionally readers may want more, you know?

Now I do as many as I can fit in, and not always with people I know well. I’m amazed that anyone will let someone as socially challenged as myself near any of their authors, especially armed with that little iPod microphone thingy of mine. I never take notes. I know I should. But I can’t talk and take notes. I’m like the Aspie chap who asks those he meets whether they want to chat or have eye contact, because he can’t do both.

Before every interview I ask myself what on earth possessed me to arrange it, and as with childbirth I feel fine once it’s over. Until next time. And it’s not as if I get paid. In fact, were in not the case that The Husband might read this, I could tell you how expensive a hobby this is. But I won’t, because he might faint.

The pleasure of meeting and talking to so many interesting and lovely people is payment enough. What they get out of it, god knows.

To answer my original question; yes almost any idiot probably can. But please don’t!

Photo by Tim Wang

No comments: