Surviving - and enjoying - my first author interview
Written by
Ellen Meeropol
November 2010
Written by
Ellen Meeropol
November 2010
Last week I got a message that a major publishing industry magazine wanted to interview me about my debut novel, HOUSE ARREST. A wonderful opportunity, I thought, and very exciting. But why couldn’t my first author interview be for a small online site that sixteen people read? You know, for practice. My first reaction was to contact my publicist, the wonderful Mary Bisbee-Beek. “I’m pretty nervous about this,” I said, controlling my panic with understatement. “No? Really?” she wrote back. “Don't be. It's a conversation, just answer the questions and be your generous wonderful self!” Not helpful. I didn’t feel wonderful. I felt intimidated and inarticulate. Next, I emailed my friend Liz. Her reaction was exuberant. “That is WAYYYYY cool!” she said, “and, you are a silly, silly person. Why are you scared? You just answer the questions! ... Who better to represent your thoughts and your stories than you?” But Liz is not a writer; what did she know. So, I went to the Internet and searched for advice. I found a blog ( and read it. The piece of advice that struck me most was to research old interviews by the journalist. Okay, I could do that. I easily found other interviews she had done for the same magazine, in the same format, and that was enormously helpful. Her questions seemed smart and interested, not at all adversarial. I also learned that she’s a novelist, and when I read about her books – books I thought I would really like to read – I breathed a little easier. Next, I emailed Randy Susan Meyers, who walked this path last year with her stunning debut novel, The Murderer’s Daughters, and who has been generous and helpful to me in these pre-publication months. I remembered reading a blog about author interviews, and thought that the web-savvy Randy might know where it was. She did know, sent me the link for and then added her own advice. “Prepare for these questions: 1. Where do you get your ideas? 2. How long did it take you to write? 3. Is this based on your life? 4. Tell me, what is your book about? And then, be ready to answer the question YOU want to answer.” Great. I could do that. I wrote out some questions, thought about the points I didn’t want to forget to mention, and breathed a little more easily. About forty-five minutes before the interview was scheduled, my publicist emailed again and offered, “Do you want to talk before your interview?” I called her right away. “This is just a conversation,” she said, in a voice I recognized from my nursing career, the kind of voice you use to calm a potentially hysterical patient. “Like talking to anyone who is interested in your book. When the phone rings, take a deep breath, relax your face, and enjoy yourself.” Finally, I was able to hear her advice. And that’s the amazing part: the interview was really fun. I didn’t need my prepared materials, though I’m glad I had them. The interviewer had read my book, she had thoughtful and insightful comments and questions - some that I had not thought about before - and she gave me the opportunity to explore a little, think about her questions, and enjoy the conversation. Whew.

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  • Randy Susan Meyers

    You will be nothing less than wonderful in every interview. Just like your wonderful book!