The Interview: Not as Scary as You Might Think (Okay, Maybe a Little)

This is a guest post by Patricia V. Davis, the author ofThe Diva Doctrine: 16 Universal Principles Every Woman Needs to Know (May 2011 Cedar Fort Press) and the award-winningHarlot’s Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece. As the host of HS Radio, ( she has interviewed a number of intriguing people, such as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and bestselling author Joyce Maynard. Learn more about Patricia at her

If you’re a new author who’s either being interviewed for the first time or conducting an interview for the same time, my suggestions to you are the same:

1. Don’t concentrate on your own nervousness; concentrate on making the other person feel comfortable.

Yes, you’re nervous and this experience is overwhelming. However, whether you’re being interviewed or you are the interviewer, if you allow yourself to believe that your sole purpose is to make the other person in the interview feel comfortable, that level of concern and caring, not your own anxiety, is what will come through in your voice.

2. Answer or ask questions in a way that leave room for a lively exchange.

This is a trick I learned when teaching high school. A question that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no” is a question to be avoided. Example: “Was writing this book difficult?” as opposed to “What was it like ─ the experience of writing this book?” Not necessarily correct grammatically, but leaves plenty of room for a response. If you’re in a situation where the interviewer asks a simple “yes” or “no” question, you can respond by starting your answer with a clause or phrase that allows you to embellish your answer. For example, “Was writing this book difficult?” can be answered at first with, “Sometimes.” (Embellish.) “Yes and no.” (Embellish.) “Depends on the day you might have asked me while I was writing it.” (Embellish.)

3. Smile and have fun.

I’ve learned over the years that writers in general take themselves and their writing way too seriously. Yes, your book is wonderful and important. But there is no reason not to be lighthearted about it. When you smile, believe me when I tell you that your smile comes through in your voice. Very important for a radio interview, and equally so in a TV interview. A smile covers up a world of insecurity in this type of a situation. You show the person you’re talking with that you’re happy to be there and in turn he or she will feel happier to be there, too. Look the person in the eyes, or concentrate on his or her voice if you are being interviewed over the telephone. And when the interview is over, don’t forget to say, “Thank you.” That’s just good manners, isn’t it?

One thought on “The Interview: Not as Scary as You Might Think (Okay, Maybe a Little)

  • May 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    This is a VERY helpful blog about interviewing techniques for authors. Thank you, Patricia!

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