Monday, July 12, 2010

Introducing: Outspoken Interviews

I've been spending a good chunk of time following various bookish conversations on Twitter. Namely, organized chats like Follow the Reader (Sponsored by NetGalley) and #BBlog (brainchild of My Friend Amy). It's a lot of fun to get together with other readers and talk about blog stuff and book stuff, so I've become quite the Twitter-chat addict.

Recently, I asked some of the #bblog chatters why so many readers dislike or skip author Q&As when they surf their feed readers. We're readers, after all, so why WOULDN'T we want to know more about our favorite authors??? I've always been a fan of author Q&As, and we used to spend a good bit of time wrangling notable writers to interview at the Estella's Revenge E-Zine; authors like Billy Collins, Markus Zusak, Audrey Niffenegger and others.

The majority of #bblog contributors said that interviewers tend to ask the same questions over and over again, thus the reading of them becomes boring and mundane. I can't say that I disagree with this point. One can only ask, "What's your writing routine?" so many times. I've been guilty of this myself, but this conversation with my fellow bloggers really lit a fire under me to be a BETTER INTERVIEWER!

With this goal in mind, I'm starting a new and ongoing feature here at Estella's Revenge called Outspoken Interviews. Personally, I looooove knowing what my favorite authors have to say, so that covers my first criteria: To interview MY favorite authors (and hope that you like 'em too).

The second criteria was to keep things short and sweet. Five questions. Only five questions.

The third: ask questions that haven't been asked eleventy billion times, which involves research. Quite a bit of it.

The first Outspoken Author I'll be interviewing is Marilyn Johnson, the illustrious writer of quirky non-fiction books like The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasure of Obituaries. Her newest book, and one of my favorites of the year, is This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All.

In addition to being a kick-ass writer, Marilyn is also very approachable, personable, and downright funny. She's a presence on Twitter, and we conversed there long before I ever approached her for this interview. I feel like we sorta bonded when I Twittered through Greyson's delivery. I'm not sure if she thought me brilliant or crazy, but she remembered me when I approached her about this Q&A.

Today's post is meant to introduce this feature, but it's also to properly introduce Marilyn Johnson. She's really a remarkable writer and a remarkable woman, and as you can tell, I'm terribly fond of her and her work. If you don't mind, you can revisit my review here, and of course I recommend visiting Johnson's site to read more about her books, check out existing interviews, and even read her essays on books!

If I were to dare compare Marilyn Johnson to any other writer, it would be to another one of my favorite non-fictionistas: Mary Roach. I draw this comparison largely because of the humor she employs, her first-person style, and her respect for her subjects. It's very obvious from reading This Book is Overdue! that Johnson truly reveres librarians, and I don't know many readers worth their bookshelves who would quibble with that!

I hope you'll visit me again tomorrow for my first Outspoken Interview with Marilyn Johnson.


  1. Wonderful!

    I am one who loves author interviews, but only when I see that the interviewer has really put effort into it. A lazy first question will send me away quick.

    I limit my questions to 5 too.

  2. I do love author interviews, but I love your idea even more! I do tend to get away with questions at times, but heard an author say that 5 was plenty, so I'll try to do that next time too.

  3. Lenore, I'm glad there are more of us out there! Hopefully the effort shows through. My "questions" are so long, it'll be a bit more like a chat!

    Kathy, hurray! At least I know you ladies will be here for my interviews. I'm in good company. I used to ask 10, but I think that got tiresome for me and my interviewees.

  4. I'll look forward to reading this! You inspired me to check out Melanie Johnson at the library - I am 14 pages into The Dead Beat and enjoying it so far. She kind of won me over when she wrote, "I scare nurses." Heh heh.

  5. I love author interviews, when done right. Which I know you will do. I can't wait to read the interview tomorrow, that book has been on my radar for awhile, since you rave about it so much!

  6. Jen, I can't wait to find out what you think of The Dead Beat. I haven't been able to get my hands on it yet, but I can hardly wait.

    Thanks, Heather! I hope you enjoy it!

  7. What a great idea and since I am reading your latest posts in reverse order in my Reader, I have just read and enjoyed one of your Outspoken Interviews!


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