Weekly Geeks 2010 #9 – Author interviews

Since I posed this week’s Weekly Geek’s questions it would be poor form indeed to be my usual lazy self and not participate. The questions were prompted by a conversation I had with a colleague recently. We had the opportunity to attend a talk by an author whose books we both like (Peter Temple) and I chose instead to go home and soak my feet in a foot spa filled with lemongrass. As well as thinking my foot fetish a bit odd, my colleague couldn’t understand my total lack of interest in hearing and seeing Temple. Having been told that my behaviour is very odd for a book lover such as myself I thought I’d pose some questions to fellow weekly geek-ers and see if I am really the odd one out (it wouldn’t be the first time).

Do you seek out interviews with authors of books you’ve enjoyed? Why or why not?

No. I don’t read, watch or listen to author interviews that tie in with a book’s publication where I can be reasonably sure that lots of the questions will be about the specific book. Especially if I haven’t read the book yet (even when they try not to they often give away things I’d rather not know). I like to read a book as ‘freshly’ as possible so that I can decide what I like (or don’t) about it, which characters I am drawn to and so on. I don’t really want to know that the character of Charlene is based on the author’s dead baby sister or that it took the author seven years to write the book at night while working as an undertaker-cum-florist in a windowless room.

Peter Temple in interview mode at a NZ writers festival

Do you interview authors on your blog? If yes what did you gain from the interview process? If no is it because you don’t want to or because you haven’t felt able to ask an author yet?

No. I’ve never wanted to. I don’t read them either (sorry, no offense meant, they’re just not my thing).

Do you subscribe to the blogs of authors you like? Which ones? All the authors you like or only certain ones?

I have a handful of author blogs in my RSS reader (actually on checking there are now only 4 after a recent cull of my subscription feeds, is that a handful?). The thing they all have in common is that they don’t really look much like author blogs. For example Margot Kinberg’s excellent Confessions of a Mystery Novelist provides great insight into my favourite genre and poses interesting questions about all facets of what makes a mystery novel and the fact she is a published author doesn’t really factor in to why I enjoy her blog. Martin Edwards’ blog Do You Write Under Your Own Name and Barbara Fister’s Barbara Fister’s Place also tell me interesting things about the world and the fact they are written by authors is almost incidental. The fourth is Stuart MacBride’s blog which I read because it makes me laugh. There have been others over time but most of them crossed the line from interesting blogger to promotional juggernaut once too often for me to stay subscribed.

Do you track down author websites or look for biographical information about them elsewhere? Would you skip reading a book if you couldn’t find out anything about its author?

Nope. I am singularly uninterested in such details. If I come across them I forget them as soon as I’ve heard them (just ask the people who asked me to be part of their quiz night team so that I might beef up their chances of answering the literary questions) (though I still argue it’s not my fault that most of the questions were about authors rather than their books).

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I’ve no idea what my lack of interest in the creators of my favourite art form says about me though I do realise I probably am in the minority. I guess I want all the effort, emotion and storytelling to go into the books and if somehow the book needs to be interpreted for me or promoted to me then it isn’t as good as it could have been.

It’s highly unlikely but just about possible that I’m completely wrong and am missing out on a key element of my reading by skipping all the author interviews. But my feet have never felt better 🙂

For me

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12 Responses to Weekly Geeks 2010 #9 – Author interviews

  1. pussreboots says:

    I don’t read many author interviews and have only done one author interview myself. You can read the full answer here.

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  2. Kerrie says:

    I have gone to hear authors speak, and I do like to hear them reading their own book. I do, as you know, often research bio details about authors when I review a book, but not being able to find anything out wouldn’t stop me from reading the book. Typically I do the research after I’ve read the first book.

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  3. Rikki says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. Soaking your feet is definitely more rewarding than attending a talk by some author or other. I couldn’t possibly care less either.

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  4. JoV says:

    A foot spa with lemongrass, hmmm… sounds like heaven to me!

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  8. Dorte H says:

    I don´t ready many author interviews either. If they are very short, and if the author is unusually interesting to ´listen to´ the interview may grab me, but often I only skim a few lines and leave it again. Perhaps because many authors are quiet, introvert people and not stand-up comedians. I am more likely to read their advice on how to write that brilliant best-seller, but I have also seen too many of these articles recently.

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  9. Like you, I do not read author interviews and very few author blogs. I do not find them essential to appreciating an author’s work.

    As I read through other Weekly Geeks posts this week, I think you may be becoming less of a minority. It seems that many, myself included, are in agreement with you. 🙂

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  10. Cathy says:

    I, too, could care less about author interviews. I will look up an author’s website for my reviews just to have it there for anyone who wants to take a look, but I don’t really pay attention to those either. (Except for the four you mention and one other…Colin Cotterill’s, which can be quite funny.)

    If so many other responses to this are in the negative, then why are there so many author interviews for me to avoid? Or is the Silent Majority being… silent?

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  11. Maxine says:

    I’m like you, too, Bernadette – I am not interested in the cult of the personality but in reading. I have practically no interest in the author him or herself, unless they are an interesting person who can write about things beyond the self-promotional which is quite rare. Group author blogs are quite common now (where several authors write a weekly post each) – although I subscribe to a few I don’t really read them – I just look forward to the posts on the days when an author who is genuinely funny and interesting posts (eg Colin Cotterill and Yrsa Sigurdadottir, both of them really make me laugh with their ironic yet up-front humour).
    But I cannot be doing with all this signed editions, interviews, etc. Book reviews I like, and save them up until after I’ve read the book in quetsion (Typepad have just introduced a free microblogging service which I find quite good for this purpose as you can just bookmark the reviews there as you come across them – or you can search the Friend Feed room for any links once you’ve read a book.)

    If I have read a particularly good book and the author is appearing down the road (walkign distance) I don’t mind going along – eg Johan Theorin the other month. Apart from that, I don’t like this “fan” culture, where one feels is in a position of “admiring” a person just because they wrote a book you like – madness. At Crime Fest I have found the most interesting panel discussions to be not about books by the participants, eg the translators’ panels (focused on the process) and the “classic book” panel of Martin Edwards, where authors had to choose books they liked (not by them!). Authors just promoting their own books are boring.
    I have attended some very good interviews at Crime Fest though (and some poor ones) – Michael Connelly and Hakan Nesser in particular were very good indeed, but both were refreshingly free of ego and were not interested in pushing their own books during their sessions. (They don’t have to, I guess!)

    BTW I do think those author blogs you picked out are very good, though I don’t follow Stuart MacBride’s – I think I read the first two or three posts he wrote when he started his blog so maybe I should go back and check it out again now.

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  12. bernadetteinoz says:

    Wow – I’m not alone. It’s so nice to find this out. Though now I am pondering who IS reading all those damned author interviews on all those blogs I otherwise like 🙂

    You are probably right Cathy – it’s the silent majority problem again – if only the minority weren’t so vocal.

    Maxine I agree that at festivals and things I go for the ‘side events’ and catching up with fellow book lovers. As i’m such an audio book junkie hearing audio book narrators talk about how they prepare for their task and carry it out was the most fascinating thing I went to at my last book festival.

    Oh and lemongrass in the foot bath is to die for – much more invigorating than peppermint 🙂

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