Seven years ago, I was at the home of a Holocaust survivor.
In the midst of an interview with Shlomo Fleischmann, (now 90), about his life before and after WWII, I looked up from my notes and asked had he ever forgiven the Germans for what they did?
The question popped into my head while we talked, and turned out to be the *money* question of the entire interview. He opened up, became more relaxed and that interview with Mr. Fleischmann remains a highlight in my writing career.
A beat reporter for years, I ran hundreds of interviews and eventually discovered what worked for my editors. (Never mind the readers - reporters write for only one person - their editor.)
I don’t think some Bloggers work nearly hard enough to ask their own *money* question.
Obviously, I do what works for me, a Pulitzer-less winning journalist. You are your own writer. I do, however, hope a few of these suggestions will at least make you ponder your questioning prose.
· If you’re part of a promotional bloghop, don’t ask bland questions. The usual Where do you write? When do you write? and Where do you get your ideas? will be asked by multiples of somebody else.
· Instead, wander outside the box. Research your interviewee – with a trusty notebook and pen by your side. Read her bio. Peruse recent posts. What are his writerly hot buttons? Look at the sidebars? Why did she win the Sweetest Tamale in Town award?
· Keep the interview under 500 words (excluding brief intro, links and questions.) Readers will stick ‘til the end – if they know it’s a quick read. (After clicking several pages in a fruitless search for the buy links, I always suffer from Scrollitosis and click my way to the next blog.
· Utilize your curiosity. You like this Blogger enough to want to interview him, so ask unique questions – but keep the answers short and sweet. Make sure your interviewee understands the edit pen will be wielded – if the post strays over 500 words.
· Offer the courtesy of a first read. Many won’t bother – they trust you already – but those new to your blog will appreciate that no surprises await them.
· Include a picture (as long as the interviewee is not someone called no-hyperlink-needed Alex.)
We walked across the room to a closed cabinet door where he revealed two large oval frames, each filled with a collage of family pictures.
On the left was all black-and-whites. On the right, each picture was ablaze in color, and each featured a grandparent or parent with a young child.
“Eighty-two direct members of my family were murdered by the Nazis,” Mr. Fleischmann said, pointing to the left. “These,” he said, smiling at the right oval, “these are the survivors and the future of my family.
“Today, some of my good friends are Germans. I don’t hate them or their generation. Why should I? This was not their fault.”
|Shlomo Fleischmann, April 2006 (Courtesy: Hometown News)|