I am sure you have seen the interviews that I, and many other authors, have posted on our blogs and websites. The questions we ask each other are much the same: what inspired your writing? Do you like to read? Why that specific genre, story, age group, etc. Although we all try to be more creative and add at least one or two questions that will make the interviewee think for a moment or tickle their funny bone. And to be honest these questions are relatively easy to ask and answer. The difficulty, that I at least, now have to face is the questions that I want to ask a non-writer. For research.
With the almost unlimited amount of information available on the internet, we all use that to do most of our research. What is the currency of Burundi? Which cars are manufactured in South Africa? You know, facts and figures. But where do you find out about the inspirations and creativity that people employ in their daily lives, hobbies and experiences? You ask a human being, of course.
The need to talk to someone as a means of gaining information, needs a more sensitive and well-thought through approach. The more sensitive the subject, the more preparation work you need to do. Even if you are acquainted with the person, determine the boundaries of your questions to respect their feelings and privacy. Offer to show the final product to them before you publish it, in whatever form it might be – article, blog post, book chapter. Aside from any possible legal difficulties, you could stand to loose a friend, and in my book that will the absolute worst thing that could happen.
NOTE: This article is based on preparation work that I am currently busy doing for two interviews that I hope will eventually be posted here. In both cases the information is intended for use in short stories that will be published on Smashwords. Both interviewees have indicated the need for privacy and even anonymity, for various reasons.