As part of the announcement of the release of my latest book, Project January: A Sequel About Writing, I sent an email to the alumni group of Swinburne University where I studied and graduated with a Master of Arts in Writing. I’d done the same thing when I published Project December: A Book About Writing and they’d been kind enough to include a mention of it in their e-newsletter and a link to where it could be purchased. I hoped they’d do the same this time.
Instead, I got an email asking if I’d be interested in being interviewed and profiled as part of a series on their past students. I thought, “Why not?”.
But once I’d agreed to do it, I did what I always do, which is panic. Sometimes I feel like I have proverbial foot-in-mouth disease (not literal foot-in-mouth disease – gross!) and am prone to say things I shouldn’t. I aim for witty and end up coming off like a weirdo. It’s why I’m a writer, after all. I like having the chance to revise. And revise. And revise again. Speaking off the cuff doesn’t give you that chance.
To keep myself calm and to try to prepare for an interview where I didn’t know exactly what the questions were going to be, I decided to attempt to pre-empt what might be asked and come up with answers. That way, if they did come up, I’d have something that didn’t make me sound like a person on the low-functioning end of the autism spectrum.
Yes, essentially, I interviewed myself.
It was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be. Not answering the questions but coming up with questions that people might be interested in hearing the answers to. But I have to admit that when the phone rang and the interviewer and I had our chat, I felt relaxed, reasonably comfortable and also like I had an answer for everything he asked. Some of them I hadn’t anticipated but most I had and when I needed to prompt myself, I quickly looked over the responses I had typed out and it helped me continue on without becoming a stuttering idiot.
So what sort of questions should a writer ask when interviewing themselves? Here are a few that I came up with:
*How long have you been writing?
*Who are your favourite writers?
*Are you self-published or traditionally published? Why?
*Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
*Why do you love writing so much?
*How did your book come about?
*Why did you decide to write this genre?
*Will you stick with this genre or are you planning to explore others?
*What is your next book about and when will it be available?
*What advice do you have for others wanting to write?
You can throw a few into the mix that are specific to the writing you do and the answers you give – after all, like any piece of writing, it should flow and feel like it transitions naturally from here to there. And since an interview is essentially a conversation, a good interviewer should pick up on parts of the answers you give that require a follow-up or elaboration. Even when the interviewer is you!
You can read the profile Swinburne University wrote about me here and on Thursday you can read the interview I did with myself for a comparison. There are vast differences because when I interviewed myself, I was only thinking about me but the Swinburne interviewer was very interested in how my master’s degree had helped me get where I was going in my writing career.
The most important thing to take out of all this is that when you release your book, tell everyone! Don’t be humble or embarrassed or concerned about bothering people. If they’re not interested, fine. They can go talk to someone else at that party or they can delete your email. But if they are interested, great! You just never know where the next step, the next connection, the next marketing opportunity might come from.