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Authors are tired of getting the same questions at every interview. They’ve answered them a hundred times and will not be excited to answer them yet again. I can tell you exactly the questions writers get time and time again at every book reading and interview:
- Where do you get your ideas?
- What is your writing process like?
- What advice do you have for writers?
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And if you look for other lists of interview questions for authors, they are remarkable uninspired. Everyone basically lists the same 20 questions that writers always receive.
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My list below of interview questions are fantastic, but if those 50 aren’t enough, I would suggest you go here to see examples of fantastic interviews, and maybe pick up a few more good questions:
- Paris Review Interviews
- These are the best interviews out there of writers, and there are thousands of them (including four books).
Now, of course the best question for a writer is one based on their book. Every author is excited to talk about their most recent book, or the big one they published a few years back. If you have a good question about a character or a plot point or the process of creating that book, they will be overjoyed to hear it.
But if you haven’t read their book yet, this is the next best thing: I’ve compiled a list of good questions for authors that are surprising and unique. I guarantee that these questions will surprise them for a second, and make them think about their answer.
50 Good Questions to Ask an Author
- What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
- What is the first book that made you cry?
- What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
- What are common traps for aspiring writers?
- Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
- What is your writing Kryptonite?
- Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
- Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
- Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
- Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
- Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
- If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
- How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
- What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
- What did you do with your first advance?
- What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
- What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
- How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
- As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
- What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
- What does literary success look like to you?
- What’s the best way to market your books?
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
- Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
- What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
- How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
- How many hours a day do you write?
- What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
- What did you edit out of this book?”
- Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
- What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
- How do you select the names of your characters?
- If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
- Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
- Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
- What was your hardest scene to write?
- Do you Google yourself?
- What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
- What are your favorite literary journals?
- What is your favorite childhood book?
- What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
- Does your family support your career as a writer?
- If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
- Do you believe in writer’s block? (DO NOT ask whether they’ve had writer’s block).
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