The thought of an interview seriously scared me at first. The idea of speaking to someone over the phone without even meeting them and having to communicate with only my voice scared me. Even more so if the person was quite significant and very respectable. It really is a different experience from public speaking in front of an audience.

So, let’s start from the very beginning.

Knowing my Eminent Person was Alice Munro, I would obviously love to speak to her, but realistically due to all the media attention right now, my chances of talking to her are very slim. Instead, I chose to contact Munro Books which had the closest relation to Alice Munro that I could think of. Through Munro books, I wanted to speak to her first husband Jim Munro, but contacting only one person is a risky move, so I also contacted John Green and Eric Walters who are both prominent young adult authors. The reason I contacted these authors specifically was that they both incorporate real life experiences and events into their writing just like Alice Munro and since they are young adult writers, they are quite easy for me to relate to. I was successfully able to have an interview with Eric Walters, but only through email and Jim Munro (YES!) through the phone. I’ll also post here what my email asking for an interview looked like.

Dear Munro Books,

My name is Alison Kim and I am a grade 9 student in the TALONS gifted program at Gleneagle Secondary, Coquitlam, B.C.
Throughout the month of November, we are doing an Eminent Person project and my project is on Alice Munro.
I was wondering if I could interview one of Munro Books’ staff members in their work field or Jim Munro if he is available.
I would be so thankful if any of the staff or Mr. Munro could take just ten to fifteen minutes out of their day and answer some questions related to writing that I am very intrigued about.
Alison Kim
Luckily, I was able to get an interview, but I did run into some bumps before I even began to talk. First off, I didn’t clearly communicate how I would like to contact them, so they were under the assumption that I was coming to visit them. I was able to clear the confusion before the scheduled time, but it cause quite a bit of confusion for both parties.
Below are just some tips that I think would be quite important to know at this stage!
  • Be very polite! No one would want to give an interview if you don’t seem to appreciate it
  • Try to email them on a week day, especially for someone very busy. They might not check their emails on weekends and it might get buried and go by unnoticed.
  • Give them more than enough time to find some time for you.
  • State your location so it doesn’t confuse the interviewee.
  • Make sure you both agree on one method of contact!
  • Try to get an interview through the phone. Even if you might find it more frightening, trust me, it’s a lot more convenient. You can also ask a lot more questions and get a real good conversation going.

After receiving an OK for two interviews, I started to brainstorm some questions, because I had a different idea on how I wanted each interview to run based on their qualifications and relationships. Because Eric Walters’ interview was through email, I was told to send my questions over and he would answer them. This is how our email interview went.

1. Have you ever written short stories before, even if they weren’t published?

I’ve never written short stories.

1.5 If so, how is writing short stories different from novels?

1.5 If not, is there a reason why longer novels appeal to you more than short stories?

I think a short story is just a waste of a great idea.  Writing longer is easier.

2. When you write, do you have a specific outline in mind or do you just have a general idea?

General idea and then I do a fairly specific outline based on lots of research.  For Between heaven and Earth I climbed Kilimanjaro, for Just Deserts I walked 200 km across the Sahara.

3. Does your writing strategy differ for every book you write or is it a similar strategy for each?

I try different things, but it’s basically idea, research, outline, write, and then rewrite and rewrite.

4. How much research do you put in before writing a book, and what type of research?

Lots, amazing stuff.

5. What is your strategy for incorporating realistic events into fictional novels? How realistic do you believe you are allowed to get?

I think you have to make things real or the credibility of the story is gone.

6. How has writing changed for you from the first book you wrote to now?

I do more research, more editing and find it a whole lot easier.

The interview was quite simple, so I was glad when Jim Munro also allowed me to interview him and I was luckily able to record our phone conversation. I’ll also put up an mp3 file of our interview. Please do not distribute or copy the contents of this file anywhere else. The only place it should be located and heard through is on my blog. Jim Munro Interview

TIPS! For during your interview

  • It is just the same as talking to someone face to face (just without their face). Take all normal conversation rules into consideration.
  • Take hints as to when you should ask more questions and when it seems like the interview should end. This is only in the case that there isn’t a specifically scheduled end time.
  • Ask good questions and you’ll get awesome answers!

Overall, both interviews were very informational, although one was slightly more beneficial than the other. Even though I was scared at first with the phone call interview, I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would and we had a nice 15 minute chat. I felt that especially my second interview, helped me understand my eminent person on more than just an “eminent” perspective. I got to hear of her as a person, not a figure and learn about her personality and life. It was totally different from reading a book and it sort of made me feel special, holding all this exclusive information! This made my speech writing a lot easier as it is in multiple perspectives from people that changed her life. Anyway, my speech is for a bit later.

I hope you enjoyed this exceptionally long blog post…if you didn’t like it, cross your fingers and hope the next one’s shorter, but hey, you got to learn about an interesting interview experience! :)


Also, as an add-on, my division of fifty points for this post will be:

Organization: 15

Information: 15

Overall: 20