Before I started talking to people for WriterViews, I reminded myself to avoid repeating the same words too much, to look into the webcam and not at the screen– no matter how much my brain wants to focus on a face as opposed to a lens– and to try to treat it like an everyday conversation, to calm the “Oh gosh, I’m being recorded” nerves.
I’m still working on all of the above, but in addition to that I’ve been learning a lot of unexpected lessons so far.
Here are just a few:
- Some people don’t really want to be interviewed, but may not tell you that. Once they’ve settled into your conversation they’re really great, but you feel like a jerk for having asked them to join you when you realize that, “I don’t have Skype” was more likely a veiled, “I don’t like being interviewed, but I don’t want to tell you ‘no.'”
- Some people prefer to have their questions beforehand. This seems harmless enough, and if you’re lucky, you get someone who’s thoughtful about their answers and takes care to make them lead into one another, which makes for a really enjoyable and smooth interview. On the other hand, you may also run into someone who gets so excited that you barely get a word in edgewise, and quickly lose control of the conversation. So proceed with caution!
- Of course everyone has opinions, and interviews are meant to discover them, but just because you ask for a subject’s opinion on one topic doesn’t mean you won’t hear their views on another. Sometimes people will say things that you disagree with, make you feel uncomfortable, or even make offensive remarks. I’m still not sure about the best way to deal with this one, but once I find out I’ll be sure to share.
But before I leave you with the impression that I’m not enjoying this process, let me clarify: I really am! I love meeting new people and learning about how they view the world (even if their vantage point isn’t remotely close to mine). And I’m having a fantastic time learning as I go.
Coming soon on WriterViews, my phone interview with Susan Shapiro: In addition to having many other accomplishments in writing, she’s an inspiring author of several books, one in particular with a focus on how to make a career as a writer (wish they’d put that on the high school reading list!), and she teaches classes about the same subject at NYU. Another of her books, 5 Men Who Broke My Heart, is currently being made into a movie! As always, we’ll tweet when the interview is posted to our site.