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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Booklist Online's Hostile Questions for Authors is Tons of Fun

One of my favorite features on Booklist Online's Likely Stories blog is when Daniel Kraus is let loose to ask famous authors some very hostile questions.

These short interviews, made up of the same hostile but rhetorical questions, really give the authors a chance to show their skill.  They have to be funny AND articulate, interesting AND entertaining, intelligent AND down to earth.  This is hard.  Some of them do better than others, but from all, I feel like I learn something more about them and their work.  Plus most of these interviews make me smile, which is a nice outcome to get from some hostile questions.

Use this link to bring up all of the interviews, but below is the most recent with nonfiction author Mary Roach.

Sure, Mary Roach looks like a formidable foe. She got up close and personal with decomposing flesh in Stiff, got intimate with death inSpook, got just plain intimate in Bonk, and then went cosmic, man, with Packing for Mars. But I have an edge: If there’s one thing I know about the nonfiction publishing industry, it’s the ceaseless GLITZ and GLAMOR. I’ll wait until she lifts her glass of Dom Pérignon… and then I strike!

Just who do you think you are?
A friend of mine was a production guy on the set ofNash Bridges. One day Don Johnson walks by one of the carpenters, a big guy named Tiny, and sneers, “What are YOU lookin’ at?” Tiny, without missing a beat and knowing full well he’ll be fired, says, “Third-rate actor with a drinking problem.” I’ll let Tiny answer this one for me: Overpaid hack with the mind of a 12-year-old boy.
Where do you get off?
The stop where no one else gets off, because it’s disgusting and it smells really bad.
What’s the big idea?
Truth! What happened to truth? Lies and lazy thinking are getting the upper hand on critical thought and solid, hard reporting. Ignorance and self-promotion are unseating reason and good. Me no like.
What is your problem, man?
Running out of body parts to write about.
Haven’t you done enough?
Enough to what? Drag the reputation of W.W. Norton and Company all the way down into the gutter? Yes. Embarrass my stepchildren? Yes. Stop global warming? I could maybe do a little more there.

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