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?
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.
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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