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Sarah Anne Johnson’s interviews with authors have been praised for her “thoughtful and knowledgeable questions” (Bloomsbury Review) that “provoke thoughtful responses from her subjects” (Publishers Weekly) and provide “an opportunity to participate in intimate and often illuminating dialogue” (Library Journal). Johnson also travels to MFA programs across the country, teaching workshops in how to conduct an author interview.
This book, based on that workshop, shows readers how to initiate, research, conduct, and publish interviews with authors and other creative people. Drawing on her own experience, Johnson not only covers the nuts and bolts of conducting the interviews, but she also offers an inspirational explanation of how the process can feed and enhance a writer’s own work and career.
More and more MFA programs now recognize the need to equip their students with the tools for building a “writing life”; in this book, Johnson provides a practical, inspiring guide to one of the most popular forms of literary journalism. In addition, students of journalism and broadcasting, and even fans, will find its down-to-earth approach to authors and writing liberating.
With examples, exercises, and step-by-step instructions, Johnson covers every step from preparation to publication. Widely praised for her own skillfully conducted interviews, Johnson is the perfect guide to this rewarding activity.
Building a Literary Life
Who Is This Book For?
GETTING STARTED - KNOW YOURSELF - Where Do You Want to Publish Your Interviews?
How and to What Degree Are You Engaged in the Literary Arts?
Why Do You Want to Interview an Author?
What Has Kept You From Interviewing an Author before Now?
CHOOSING THE AUTHOR - Your First Interview
Use Your Connections
Use Your Credentials
MAKING CONTACT WITH THE AUTHOR - Through the Publicist or Agent
The Query Letter
Deconstructing The Query Letter
Developing a Query Letter Template
THE REAL WORK BEGINS - CONDUCTING THE RESEARCH - Researching the Author
COMPOSING THE QUESTIONS - The Role of the Interview Questions
Remember Your Audience
Types of Questions and Suggestions
GETTING IT ALL ON PAPER - Step One: Brainstorm
Step Two: Flesh Out Your Raw Material
Step Three: Put the Questions in Order
Step Four: Make Sure You've Covered Everything
Step Five: Get Feedback
Composing the Questions: Generative Exercise
Composing the Questions: Checklist
Interview Question Dos and Don'ts
LET'S LOOK AT THE PROS
TIME FOR THE INTERVIEW - CONDUCTING THE INTERVIEW - How to Present Yourself
In Person, Phone, Email
Equipment and Other Technical Issues
Your Role as Interviewer
Using Your Road Map - TRANSCRIBING THE INTERVIEW
REFINING THE INTERVIEW - EDITING THE INTERVIEW - Staying True to the Author's Voice
Use of Slang or Curse Words
Including the Author in Revision
Working with the Editor - THE AUTHOR'S BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE - The Straightforward Author's Biographical Note
The Narrative Author's Biographical Note
The Narrative First-Person Bio
Deciding for Yourself - THE INTERVIEWER'S BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE - MULTITASKING: HOW MANY INTERVIEWS IN THE FIRE AT ONCE?
PUBLISHING THE INTERVIEW
FINDING THE RIGHT PUBLICATION - Create Your Submission Hit List
Where to Find Publications
To Multiply Submit or Not to Multiply Submit
Offer an Exclusive Look
Why Query First?
The Writer's Guidelines
Getting the Query Right
Deconstructing the Query Letter
Query Letter Dos and Don'ts
The Fine Art of Patience
The Inevitable Rejections
Working with the Editor -
KEEP YOUR INTERVIEW WORKING - FOLLOW-UP - FINDING NEW USES FOR YOUR INTERVIEW - Reprint Rights
The Art of the Author Profile
INTERVIEWING OTHER CREATIVE PEOPLE - Putting These Principles to Use with Other Artists
Example: Inside the Actor's Studio
Example: Writer A. M. Homes Interviews Painter Eric Fischl
Example: Interview with Screenwriter Max Adams
THE AUTHOR INTERVIEW IN OTHER MEDIA
TELEVISION BROADCASTING - Format
Commercial, Public, and Cable Television
Television is Visual—How Will You Look?
Improving Your Interview Skills by Watching TV Interviews - RADIO BROADCASTING
THE ART OF THE AUTHOR INTERVIEW IN THE WRITING PROGRAM - THE M. F. A. PROGRAM
Program Ideas – THE UNDERGRADUATE WRITING PROGRAM - Beginner Program Ideas
FINAL THOUGHTS AND INTERVIEW TIPS - REJECTION AS INFORMATION - COMMON PROBLEMS - Lack of Preparation
Interview Is Too Faithful to Spoken Event
Too Much Analysis
Self-Promotion by Interviewer
Too Muc Commitment to the List of Questions - WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU'RE OUT OF TIME
APPENDIX: THE HISTORY OF THE AUTHOR INTERVIEW
George Plimpton and the Paris Review
The Interview as an Evolving Form
The Future is Now