Cryptid Series Pre-Release: Author Interview Anxiety over Man and Brother

GoodauthorLoganSmithInterviews are difficult for me.

When I released ‘Til Undeath Do Us Part, I had interview opportunities. I did one for Indie Book Promo right at release. The other potential interviewers were kind people who didn’t seem to have questions for me to answer. I was supposed to build my own Q&A for them to host–something as frustrating as writing my own back cover copy or sales page blurb.

That is a mistake I regret, up there with missing my chance at a podcast interview in December of 2015. I was ashamed that I had missed my first publishing deadline on Man and Brother, and I was still terrified of being asked questions and finding myself dumbstruck and mute.

I failed as a writer in 2015–not because of my Cryptid Series sales numbers but because I turned my back on interviews.

It’s not a lottery.

paniceverybodyWith the experience of five books under my belt, I am earning the humbling reality of what it takes to succeed–mainstream or indie author. The people who make it these days are fighting for every sale in conventions and at book signings.

Breakout novelists build recognition and a fan base while they write new releases and build thrilling and immersive worlds for readers. Winners let no opportunity pass, and they earn their successful careers. While some luck is involved, it really comes down to talent and effort.

It’s not a lottery. No one’s waiting to knock on a writer’s door to whisk off a manuscript and give it a VIP treatment. That said, the act of completing a manuscript is a major victory. The effort to wrangle and mangle that manuscript into something worth reading is also a major victory. Publishing that polished manuscript is a major victory, as well. But those victories are the beginning of a long, arduous journey to become an established author. They’re not the war won.

Am I really so interesting that I’m worthy of being interviewed?

lifeinmyheadWhile I was writing fiction and facing critics at a relatively young age, becoming an author really wasn’t foremost in my mind. So, I have to think about these things, since “I don’t really know” isn’t an acceptable response. I am an every-person. I’m background noise in the lives of others. It’s that inner space which is a massive universe of possibility. It’s the land of imagination and inspiration beyond the mirror, down the rabbit hole, through the back of the massive wardrobe in the spare room.

I thrive in a multiverse of stories. Authors abound, all with inner experiences that are poured onto a page in the black-and-white medium of print and e-publication. Some authors are better at the technical aspects than others, but technical aspects of writing and editing can be learned. The unteachable is that curiosity and wonder that makes authors and cosmologists. It’s the need to adventure into the unknown.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

hunchbackcatA quick web search using the key words great author interview questions netted a substantial haul of web pages. To be honest, I think every author preparing to publish a work needs to collect interview questions and contemplate responses before getting out there to interview. After all, what if this manuscript does become that literary lottery win? Fame (or notoriety) means interviews.

In February and March of 2015, I wrote five entries where I interviewed myself using questions from the internet:

To be honest, I don’t recall what I said when I answered those questions. I did find Elizabeth Barrette’s Master List of Interview Questions for Writers, and it’s an excellent start for any reluctant interviewee. Especially ones like I am, who forgets basic answers to questions like, “When did you start writing?”

BeganToWriteEdwardGoreyI definitely recall that I started writing short stories and novellas as a kid. I know that, because my first attempts met with such criticism that my teachers met with my parents to discuss plot elements they considered were disturbing–loss, rejection, sadness, redemption. Yes, the types of subjects which are lauded in adult and teen literature were considered a cry for therapy to my terrified teachers who wanted me to write happy fluff.

That happened two years in a row, when I was in fourth then fifth grade. After that, I wanted to write broadway musicals. I couldn’t play an instrument or read music, but I had this Busby Berkeley concept of this massive staging. I even had the rudimentary plot, which involved couples affected by their zodiacal signs, which were on a massive Ferris wheel.

Like I said, it was a big production in my head.

Now that I’ve meandered off into my weird childhood and adolescent brain, it’s time to come back to the point of this all:

  • What questions do readers want to know about authors?
  • What questions do authors absolutely hate to be asked in interviews?

These two questions . . . I don’t think I’m alone thinking them (as opposed to that weirdly fantastic zodiac musical I thought up when I was 11 or 12).

2 thoughts on “Cryptid Series Pre-Release: Author Interview Anxiety over Man and Brother”

  1. Another spot on blog, Jess. The question I hate most from readers/interviewers is, “what motivated Character X in Book Y?”. Hang on, I wrote that years ago, I can’t even remember who Character X is , never mind what they did or why! Once I’ve finished a book, published it and immersed myself in the next one, I have moved on from previous works and disengaged from the characters and plots. I love to talk about writing in general, that is easy, but some readers/interviewers become obsessed with a particular aspect of a book and want to dissect it. Writer’s nightmare! So you’re not alone in those clammy sweats, stuttering speech, racing heart and forgetful white-out moments during interviews. Makes you want to scream and run – back to your study where you can lock the door, write and feel safe again. Perfect bliss. Sigh……


    1. What a bizarre question, though I think it’s also quite a compliment in terms of your ability. The characters you’ve written are so real to people that they want to understand the motivation of a fictional being as if he or she was a living entity.

      But I understand the frustration. For me, it’s most often about conflict. My main characters have overarching goals that guide me to write them in a certain way. Side characters provide conflict, so that’s my motivation to create it–not theirs.

      I definitely agree with you on the general writing versus dissection of scenes which stay with individuals. I’m not sure how I would deal with it except to do what you suggested: hide in the study with the muse and feel safe there.


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