Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tough Questions, Great Panel

It's ironic to be writing a post about "gotcha" questions for a book panel. I'm just about to leave for Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (which will have ended by the time you read this; my fellow Criminal Minds Kelli Stanley and Gary Phillips will be there, too). I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to being on a panel with Megan Abbott, Sean Chercover, and Martyn Waites, because it's a huge honor to be featured alongside writers I admire. In case that weren't a sweet enough deal, the amazing Jen Forbus is moderating. Jen moderated my first-ever Bouchercon panel (San Francisco, 2010), so I already know what kind of moderator she'll be: smart, thoughtful, engaging, and well-prepared. I'll probably pick up several provocative questions that I could use in this post!

Lacking that, I'm going to crib from the wonderful panel Laura Lippman moderated at Bouchercon last month. It featured Bryan Gruley, Bill Loehfelm, Duane Swierczynski, and me, and it was a fabulous free-for-all most notorious for the fact that Duane and I got into a fistfight. (Kidding! But we did curse each other out.) Here are five questions I'd like to ask a panel of writers:

1. Have you had any truly terrible reviews, and how have you responded to them? (Laura Lippman asked this, and it was a genius question, because everyone gets bad reviews, and there's nothing you can do about them except confess all to your panel audience.)

2. What scenes are the toughest for you to write, and why?

3. What's your ambition as a writer? (Laura Lippman asked this one, too, pointing out that no one wants to talk about ambition.)

4. What rejection of your work hurt the most?

5. Who are your favorite writers working today? (This question is guaranteed to torture your panelists, because they will always forget a name or two and will spend weeks or even months kicking themselves about it.)

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A reminder: have you entered the GoodReads giveaway for an advance copy of THE NEXT ONE TO FALL? All you need is a mailing address in the US or Canada. The contest closes on November 30th, which means the 10 winners will get their copies well in advance of the book's publication date, February 14, 2012!


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Glad you had fun at Murder and Mayhem! Those are great questions, Hilary. Why is it we don't talk about ambition? Does it appear immodest and egotistical, instead of confident? Next time I’m called on to moderate, I asking this question.

Meredith Cole said...

I hope you had a fabulous time! Sounds like a terrific panel. Those are some tough questions. I definitely always blank on the favorite author question. I can name two under the spotlights, but the third... Oops!

Hilary Davidson said...

Thanks for dropping by, Sue Ann and Meredith! Muskego was a blast, and I picked up another great question to ask from Jen Forbus, who moderated my panel: what song best represents you or your work? That earned terrific — and very funny — answers. (I chose the KILL BILL soundtrack.)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Hope you had fun at Murder and Mayhem!

A song question. I like that. Maybe we should add that to the 7crims calendar and answer it here.

I agree, Sue Ann, it's a tough question to ask without seeming egotistical. But it shouldn't be.

Thanks, Hilary, for another great post!

Eric Beetner said...

It is kinda fun to see authors squirm a little bit when taken out of the normal realm of softball questions about process and the classic, "where do you get your ideas from?"
These are all great questions I'd love to know about from my favorite authors.