Advice for writers: When you are interviewing someone, they are also interviewing you

One of the best things about being a writer is getting to meet and interview people doing fascinating things.

It's important to show up to interviews prepared, with knowledge of your subject and an idea of what questions to ask, but it's also imperative you are on your best, professional behaviour — because your interview subject is interviewing you, too!

If you aren't at the apex of your writing career, then chances are your interview subject is better connected than you are, and that means if you do a good job in the interview, you could earn another writing opportunity.

I have two examples to share:

1. Alex Van Tol — author
When I was first starting out as a freelancer, I met young adult author Alex Van Tol at a book launch. She told me the story of how she moved into fiction writing: it all started in an interview she was doing for a magazine article. She was interviewing a local book publisher at Orca Books in Victoria, B.C., and her interviewee said, "Have you ever tried writing a novel? Why don't you give it a shot?"

She did, and has now published six books with Orca and has more on the way. Wow!

2. Jessica Woollard — me!
The lesson I learned from Alex is that you never know when an interviewee can change your life or give you an amazing opportunity.

I was recently interviewing actor Casey Austin for a blog post for Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre's production of Uncle Vanya (read the post here). Because Casey is the co-founder of the Rifflandia Festival, I asked her questions about working in both the music and theatre industries. We chatted a bit about some great bands that played at Rifflandia in the past, and how I was anticipating the 2013 lineup announcement.

A day after the interview, I received an email from Casey inviting me to join the team of writers for the 2013 Rifflandia Festival! Just like that, I will be writing about USS, Hannah Georgas, and Stars.

And who knows where writing for Rifflandia might take me?

In this business, you have the opportunity to make a lasting impression on people with a large network. Don't blow it! Prepare, be polite and professional, and you never know what opportunity will come your way.

Caribou Creative