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8 Overused Author Interview Questions

Updated on February 12, 2015
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Rebecca Graf is an experienced writer with nearly a decade of writing experience and degrees in accounting, history and creative writing.

Author interviews are pretty common especially among indie and self-published authors. They are used to help promote the author’s work and help expose him/her to new readers. Yet due to the large number of interviews, there are a few interview questions that are overused by each person conducting the interview.

What is wrong with using questions over and over? It becomes boring. If I’ve read the answer in one spot, why do I want to read it again on another site? I want to read new and exciting information.

Now this doesn’t mean that the questions shouldn’t be asked. In fact, they could be crucial if I’ve never heard of the author before. Yet they can be asked in different ways. Which questions are overused and how can they be reworded?

#1 Where did you get the idea for your story?

Almost every interviewer asks this question. Now I have to admit that this is an important question to ask an author, but if I read one interview I’m going to hate reading it again. So what do you do? You ask that question but in a unique way that might also prompt the author to write an answer in a new and creative way.

Hopefully, you know a little bit about the story before you start interviewing the author about it. Ask them to tell about the idea for a unique twist in the story or why it was set in that particular town. Get much more specific in your question. Or…

Ask them what they changed in the story from the original concept. Ask what they would change now. Forget the ‘origin’ of the story. Talk about all the other aspects of the idea.


#2 What are your current projects?

You can ask this question but not word for word or anything close to this. I want to know what they are working on but it gets boring hearing this question over and over. Think of a different way to ask this:

  • Will we be seeing more of (a character’s name)?

  • Are you writing more in this genre?

  • How many stories are you writing on right now?

  • What genres do you want to try writing in now after this story?


#3 Who is your favorite character?

Instead of asking this question ask the author who their least favorite character is. Ask this which character was the hardest to write, research, or connect with. Get more personal here. Ask them in a way that gets them thinking and feeling hard about the characters. Is there a character that is more like them, has their secrets, has their feelings, or they wish they could be?

Where did they get the names of the characters? Is there something personal there? Do the meaning of names mean anything? What is the story behind the names and the characters they belong to?

#4 Who would play your characters if you made the story into a movie?

Take this me as an author, this is a very hard question and one that is asked over and over by interviewers. Throw this question out. If you have to ask something about movies, ask if the author was inspired by a movie, ask them their favorite movies. Get to know the author.

Or you could just ask them their favorite actor. Sometimes you want to move away from the book and get closer to the author. They can be very interesting.

#5 What is your story about?

Really? I can read that on Amazon. An interviewer could also help the reader out by putting the synopsis at the beginning of the article. Don’t make it part of the interview. Yes, I have done so and wished I hadn’t later as I read the author having to answer this question with other interviewers.

Ask about reactions to the story, maybe if someone connected to it or got upset about it. Ask them to describe their book in a unique way: with a song, an event, a poem, color, adjectives, or anything else that can spark their creative spirit.

#6 How did you decide to become a writer?

What was it about writing that gets you excited? This might be the same question but notice how it gets a little more personal and is not the same ol’ question. Maybe a specific teacher inspired them. Maybe something prevented them from picking up the pen to write earlier in life. Again, get more personal.

After being asked this question multiple times, I have to admit that I groan when I read it. Get creative when exploring this topic. Did the author want to be a writer as a child? What do they see as the curse of wanting to be an author? Visit the desire to be an author instead of how they got there.


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#7 Why are You Self-Publishing?

Okay, you can still ask this but find a different way to do it. Research the author. If they started off with a traditional publisher and then moved to self-publishing, ask them pros and cons of each, what is hurting each one, how each can help a new author. Explore the publishing side from an angle that will get people wanting to read this just to get they author’s opinion on it and where the author’s answer can be more than a word or two.

#8 How much research did you do?

Please! Ask something else. Ask where they found the most unusual or interesting information that helped them right the book. Try these questions instead of the overused one:

  • Did you do all your research online and at what sites?

  • What was the hardest thing about the research did you discover?

  • What surprised you the most in your research?

In your research of the author, see if their research was more hands on or if they interviewed other people. Get deep into this with your own research. You’ll discover some really cool stuff.

Don’t get me wrong. These questions are not useless. They can be great topics for readers to learn more about the author and the book, but look for more creative ways to ask them.


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