Saturday, October 30, 2010

[The Interview Feature] The End: What happens after the last question?

With a lot more than four weeks, The Interview Feature has come to an end. In this final part, the charming interrogator, Theresa Bazelli, asks me questions connected with the processes that happen after an interview has been completed. What happens after the last question and before going up online? Here is the conversation.

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TB: And so we've coming to the last part of this interview feature. It's fitting that we talk about endings. Journalists may choose to ask a series of questions during an interview, but not publish the answer to every question. Do you do any editing once an interview has finished? Do any questions fall prey to the chopping block? And does the interviewee get the last look before it gets posted?

HM: No, I don’t cut out questions [unless I ask a wrong question, which I admit I have done, when I interviewed artists]. I have had interviewees turn down one or two questions, because they felt that they were too intrusive or too revealing of their next novel [usually]. However, I do not censor my guests and allow them all they freedom they want. Just because I didn’t like or feel enthusiastic about an answer does not mean that somebody won’t, which I keep the interview as intact as possible.

Whatever editing I do is to make the answers flow better with the questions. I add a personal comment here and there to strengthen the coherence and make it all flow better, though I’m still mastering that art. As far as showing the interviewee the last look of the interview, I advise that you do that. I myself rarely manage, which is what I’m currently working on [aka time management rather than anything else].

TB: What happens after the interview gets posted online? How do you let the world know about the awesomeness you just participated in?

HM: I wait and all the comments and adoration find their way to me… Which never happens in the real world, so I have to suck it up and promote it.

I always e-mail the author with a link, who will most likely feature it somewhere. Part of the promotion comes from there. The rest I do through Twitter, which is excellent for these sorts of things. However, I would suggest that a person should tweet a thing four times at most and then cut it out, because it aggravates people. When I discovered how awesome Twitter was for shooting links into the dark I did non-stop, until I followed individuals that do the same. It showed me how annoying that was, so I stopped doing that and the promotion was dropped to a minimum there. There are other websites that one can use such as Digg and the likes, but I am rather chaotic and inconsistent with those.

I’m open to hearing more from better experts, but for now this is what I do.

TB: I want to hear a few stories! Tell me about your favorite interview (if you have one). Tell me about the most popular (perhaps unexpectedly) interviews posted on your blog. Tell me about your worst interview experience (no names mentioned of course).

HM: Popular interviews? I can’t really say which interview is most popular at the moment. I don’t keep a score of which interview fared better than the other as far as hits go. Now I do have a few interviews that got more comments than usual, but those were the early Reviewer Time interviews and the commenters where the loyal readers of said blogs. I’m not particularly interested in ranking my interviews.

I however do have favorites. Most recently I conducted an interview with Nancy Kilpatrick, which is one of the most exciting ones to make, because this is Nancy Kilpatrick after all. I’m most satisfied with the interviews I conducted with Paul Smith and Charles Tan, because they are exceptionally talented bloggers I admire. Then I think should come editor David Moore, who rocked my world with his answers about the industry [he also figured out why I asked him]. The list goes on to include authors such as Blake Charlton, Kaaron Warren and J Robert King. Basically all the newer ones.

As far as negative experiences. I’m not pleased a section of Reviewer Time. I selected guests that I did not exactly feel for and that resulted in piss poor interviews. You can probably spot the lackluster and unimaginative questions I asked.

TB: You mentioned that you hope to improve with each interview. What have you learned through the process so far? Have you made any mistakes that you've learned from? Have you made any discoveries that you're proud of?

HM: What I’ve learned is that the person you’re talking with will react in a way that you’ve not expected. I have come across questions that to me seemed perfect and simply begged to be answered with at least two fat paragraphs, but which received skinny lines instead. The opposite has also happened.

I have learned to be patient with the authors, who I am interviewing since they have all lives and I am asking of their time. Patience is valuable to have, hard to obtain.

I’m sure that they have been mistakes. Delays in my following questions. Delays with starting the interview as well. I have seen that time management and flexibility are not my strong suits, but I’m trying to compensate for those.

Discoveries… Perhaps that if you really try to speak to the person and avoid the obvious, then the magic happens.

TB: I like that - leaving a little room for some magic is an important thing. So, we've finally come to the close of this interview series. Do you have any last words for your readers?

HM: Thanks for reading [though commenting would have been nicer, just saying] and hopefully you have found this entertaining and informative.

2 comments:

Mieneke said...

Thanks for this interesting series Harry! If I ever do an interview for my own blog, I'm definitely going to refer back to these posts to prepare!

Harry Markov said...

Ah, the awesomeness that is a comment and recognition. Thank you! and I hope that you have an easier time doing one of those with my help.

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