Author Interviews: What Happens Behind the Scenes

by Apex Magazine

April 3, 2017

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If you’re an avid reader of Apex Magazine, my name will be familiar. Every month I get to interview an incredible author. Lots of bloggers and magazine contributors do author interviews, and I wanted to give you some behind the scenes of how I do what I do, the “how the sausage gets made,” as it were.

The obvious first step is reading the author’s forthcoming Apex story. I’ll typically read the author’s story a minimum of 4 times. The first time through I’m just reading it – no expectations, no note taking, nothing. The next time through I’ll take some notes as I read. What caught my eye? What hooked me? Was I surprised by the ending? My notes help focus my mind, help me find my way closer to the desired end result. A few days later after my brain has had a chance to really absorb the story and the notes I’ve taken, it’s time for another couple of re-reads, along with taking my scribbly notes and polishing them into intelligent and interesting questions. And to get the really interesting questions, I’ve got to do my research! If the author has fiction published at other online magazines, I’ll go read those stories, see what bubbles to the surface of my brain. If they’ve done interviews elsewhere online, I’ll read them. If they have a website, a blog, a Twitter feed, I’ll read all of that. Author research is surprisingly fun, and the more material the author has online, the more fun the research becomes. Blog entries are gold. Dear authors with forthcoming publications: Please have a website.

The behind the scenes work of doing an author interview has become rather organic for me, and I like it that way. Everything that goes into creating an author interview reminds me a little of baking bread – starter, overnight rise, knead, rise, shape, rise, bake. Twenty-four hours (or more!) of gently nudging chemistry along as you enjoy the magnificent smell of yeast and bread rising. That amazing smell, the dough going from sticky as heck to silky smooth due to your ministrations, the joy that comes from doing something people have been doing since the beginning of civilization, it’s all part of the end result. You can taste all of that when you cut open that loaf of bread.

An author interview should be like that. You weren’t with me when I read the story five times, you weren’t with me when I wrote up notes and questions, or stalked the author online, but you should get a taste of that when you read the interview. If you read the interview (and who doesn’t want a 4 minute read) and get intrigued enough to read the story, I’ve accomplished my mission.

A few standout highlights of being the interviewer at Apex:

  • Standing in a Walmart parking lot and literally jumping up and down with joy when I got the email that I’d be interviewing Benjanun Sriduangkaew, who is one of my favorite authors. (issue 81)
  • Reading Jennifer Giesbrecht’s “Lazarus and the Amazing Kid Phoenix” and going from uggh, I hate superhero stories to if superhero stories were all this good, I’d read a million of them in the course of five thousand words. (issue 86)
  • Reading through my interview with Alexandria Baisden one last time before sending it to Lesley and crying my eyes out the entire time. You want to read the interview I’m most proud of? Go read that one. (issue 88)

So, that’s the trick to great author interviews. Make them as passionate as something else you love – be it baking bread, or wherever your passions lie.


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