10 Interesting Questions Authors Get Asked

Let's talk about interesting questions authors get asked.

Okay, that's code for questions that embarrass, insult, or just flabbergast you.

When I was first published, I did a lot of interviews, workshops, speaking engagements, etc. This was back in the print age.

Online interviews are easier because you can usually select the questions you want to answer and do it by writing which, for authors, is often easier than speaking extemporaneously. 

In no particular order, here are some of the questions I've been asked over the years—usually in person and on the spot. By the way, keep in mind that I write Romance which explains some of these questions. I'll start with the easy question first.

1. What's your book about?
Right now, if you're an author and haven't condensed the entire complex plot of your book to a single sentence. Start working on that immediately! Nothing is more embarrassing than rambling on about your book for more minutes than the interviewer wants to devote to you.  

2. How much money do you make writing books?
If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked that at book signings, interviews, cocktail parties, dinner out with friends, etc.  My snappy comeback, "Enought to keep writing." Or, it they're really persistent, "Show me your tax return, and I'll show you mine."

3. Are you still writing?
This comes from acquaintances who are not quite friends, or they'd know. I think to they think they're expressing interest in what I do, but they don't read my books or remember much else about me.

4. When are you going to write a real book?This is from literature snobs who think romance is not a "real" book.

5. What kind of research did you do for the sex scenes?
Honestly, I've been asked that more than once. Ew.

6. Did you and your husband do a lot "research" for those sex scenes?
Usually this happens at a big noisy party where people are drinking. My husband, God love him, answers this one, usually with a big smile. "Sure did."

7. Question asked of my husband by male business acquaintances: Do you help your wife write "those" scenes? Again, he grins big and says, "No, but I inspire them."

I once asked someone if he thought authors of murder mysteries went out and killed people in order to write convincingly. 

I guess it's something endemic in our culture that writing about emotions, sex, romance, and love is still considered unacceptable by some people. Even on TV shows you'll see characters make scornful remarks about someone who is reading a romance novel.

I remember my mother telling me one of her friends had asked her about my first book which had a sex scene in it with euphemisms. She told her friend that I did not write that. "Her editor writes that kind of stuff."

I didn't bother getting upset about that. I just laughed. My first book was probably my the one and only romance my mother ever read. 

Two Responses to Adopt/Adapt

(1) If you're confronted with anything that makes you uncomfortable, it's better for you to keep the upper hand and respond by saying, "Why do you ask that?"

Answer a question with a question that puts the burden on the interviewer to defuse the situation. If it gets really bad, then just smile and stay silent, especially if you're on radio or TV. Those people just hate dead air. Five seconds of dead air is huge! Let them fill the silence.

(2) "I'm curious as to why you want to pursue this line of questioning. I thought we were going to talk about the way I handle characterization, plot, theme, or (whatever narrative skill you want to toss at them) because I'm sure that's what the readers in the audience would like to know."

If you need more help to be prepared, try Powerful Phrases for Dealing With Difficult People who are usually the ones who ask those "interesting" questions.

Then there are the standard questions people love to ask  Romance Authors.

8. Aren't all romances alike and just written to a formula?

9. Aren't romances unrealistic?

10. Aren't romances degrading to women?

Takeaway Truth

Take everything with a grain of salt and a big smile, but remember, no one can make you uncomfortable unless you allow them to do so.

Joan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program which means if you click an Amazon link in her post she may earn a tiny commission.

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