Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book or your career or you, but nobody has?

by Dietrich

Any question beginning with, “So, when you won the Pulitzer …” 

Okay, so I’m not holding my breath on that one, but there are questions I like being asked, probably the same questions any author likes to be asked. 
“Can we pay you to speak at our event?” 
“What are you drinking?” 
“I’ve read all your books. When’s the next one coming out?” 
“How did you ever come up with something so clever?”

Of course, there are those questions that none of us like to be asked:
Do I look fat in this?
Sir, do you know how fast you were going?
Where were you last night?

And there are questions that no author wants to be asked: 
“How come I’ve never heard of you?”
“Were you high when you wrote this?”
“I’ve got a great story idea; would you like to hear it?” Followed by, “Would you like to help me write it?”
“You write a lot of opposite sex characters; what’s up with that?” Followed by that look.
“You just sit around making stuff up. How hard can it be?”
“Did you start writing because you couldn’t find work?”

“Readiness to answer all questions is the infallible sign of stupidity.” – Saul Bellow
I do enjoy talking to people and answering questions about my writing. It’s nice when someone is interested enough to ask about what I’m doing. And there’s nothing like getting some feedback from a reader. And if there’s a question I can answer that might help someone out with their first book or story, then I’m happy to help.

“People want to know why I do this, why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy… and I keep it in a jar on my desk.” – Stephen King

When I’m doing the asking, coming up with interview questions for my blog Off the Cuff, I try to come up with questions the authors may not have been asked before. And sometimes it’s interesting to ask a typical question just to get the author’s particular perspective. 


There are interviewers I read and listen to that always have fresh and thoughtful questions. I’ve enjoyed being interviewed by Pam Stack on Authors on the Air. She’s got a casual way about her and always knows the right questions to ask. It’s more like a chat with a friend than an interview. And Eric Beetner and Steve Lauden get it right as well on Writer Types. They seem to have a lot of fun with it. As for blogs, I like Dana King’s insightful interviews and commentary on One Bite at a Time. And there’s Paul D. Brazill’s Punk Noir Magazine that offers a nice mix of interviews, reviews, news, commentary, novel excerpts, poetry, and more.

10 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

Dieter, this list of questions:

And there are questions that no author wants to be asked:
“How come I’ve never heard of you?”
“Were you high when you wrote this?”
“I’ve got a great story idea; would you like to hear it?” Followed by, “Would you like to help me write it?”
“You write a lot of opposite sex characters; what’s up with that?” Followed by that look.
“You just sit around making stuff up. How hard can it be?”
“Did you start writing because you couldn’t find work?”

Gives the shivers. Unlike the Maltese Falcon being the stuff that dreams are made of, these are the stuff that nightmares are made of ;-) .

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Yes, they give the shivers, Paul. I'd rather be asked questions from the other list:
“Can we pay you to speak at our event?”
“What are you drinking?”
“I’ve read all your books. When’s the next one coming out?”
“How did you ever come up with something so clever?”

Susan C Shea said...

"How come I've never heard of you?" The speaker deserves to be boiled in oil. Failing that, could we come up with a reply that inserts needles into his or her forehead?

Dietrich Kalteis said...

True, Susan, we could boil them or insert needles and come up with lines like a comedian might lay on a heckler.

Frank Zafiro said...

Does "what have you written that I might have heard of?" rate okay? I realize I've asked a version of this question to other artists, not just writers.

And D, gotta get you on my podcast this season so you can hopefully add me to the list of good question-y people.

Actually, my season 3 goal is to get all of the 7 Criminal Minds bloggers on the show at some point.... but not at the same time.

And the best "question" I ever got was actually an answer at a bookstore appearance. It was at Hastings, which was a decent store, sort of an everyman version of Borders. I was stationed at the author table near the door. As people walked in, I asked the ones that showed any interest whatsoever, "Do you like crime fiction?" It was a decent hook. But one guy stopped and looked at me like I had three heads.

"I don't read," he said, not without a little pride.

Ugh.

Anonymous said...
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Dietrich Kalteis said...

I think that's an okay question, Frank. And I'd love to do the podcast. I'm also wondering what a guy who doesn't read is doing walking into a bookstore.

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