Thursday, June 15, 2006

In Which I Go From Topic To Topic

Megan put up a lovely tribute to parents of CWD. Made me get all teary-eyed. Thanks again, Megan.

Today is the first day of my non-working life. Hah. By 8:45, I'd showered, fed and dressed the Boo, changed O's site because it was hurting her, dropped off O at school, dropped off the Boo at daycare (she's almost done with that) and gone to CVS to get prescriptions filled and Tums for me - I am living on Tums these days. Heartburn sucks, man. The only reason I'm home now is because O was supposed to have had a field trip but when I got there to chaperone, she was pale, clammy and feeling pukey, so I brought her home.

The field trip was to see the movie Cars. Now, I want to see this movie and I didn't mind going as chaperone to eleventy-squillion 5th graders (hey, free movie, I'll deal). But the pisser? The thing that's making me shake my fist at the weather gods? It's 70 fucking degrees and SUNNY outside. Slight breeze, not a cloud in the sky, a gorgeous, gorgeous day. Where the fuck was this weather last week, when I was drenched to the armpits, slogging thru the mud at the Granary Burying Ground and being blown down the streets of Boston? Huh? No, gotta save it for the day we're all going to sit inside. Fuckers.

I have to interview someone for an article I'm writing. I've never interviewed anyone in my life. I'm nervous as hell as, as usual, procrastinating like mad about getting it done. It will get done (don't panic, editor-person), but I will be terrified the entire time, just so you know. Terri. Fied.

We are having a housewarming party on Saturday (wanna come?) and I need to clean. I hate cleaning. I wonder what Merry Maids would charge me to come in here and sandblast the place. My sister offered to come over and help, and didn't say she'd charge me for it, either. I know, I had to sit down, too. But she has a bad back, so I don't think she'd be much use. Nice of her, though. Wonder what she wants.

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Lyrehca said...


I've done countless interviews in my time. Here's what I'd suggest:

1. Is this in person or over the phone? If you have a small tape recorder, you can tape the interview in person just so you have a backup. Buy extra batteries and check the tape before the actual interview. But always also take notes throughout just in case the tape doesn't work. Over the phone? There are devices you can buy that will connect to your tape recorder that will record the phoner, too.

2. If you haven't a tape player and don't want to deal, write everything down as fast as you can while the subject is talking. Or type quickly if you're doing it on a computer. Don't be afraid to say to the subject, "Wait, would you mind repeating that so I can get it all down?" Or, to kill a bit of time while they are talking, you can say, "Hold on, let me make sure I've got this right while I'm writing. You said this?" with "this" being the sentence or concept they just said. They'll repeat it and you can write it all down just right.

3. If it's your first interview, make a list of questions you want to ask or points you want to cover. Avoid asking straight questions with yes/no answers and focus on answers that'll reveal more. "How did you ....." "Why did you...." "What do you think of..." stuff like that. Some people are great interviews and some aren't, but open-ended questions should give you something to work with.

4. ALWAYS ask them to spell out their name for you, their hometown (if relevant to the story) and their age TODAY and the age they will be when the story is published (sometimes it's months later). If they'll give up their actual birthday, with the year, all the better. Also, ask them how you can contact them again if your editor wants you to get more information. Cell phones, emails, daytime phones, etc. The more access, the better for you.

5. I always ask, at the end of an interview, "Is there anything else you want to say that I haven't asked you?" Sometimes people go off on a tangent that isn't relevant, but other times, they may have some great insight or a great quote that works great for your story.

Good luck! Looking forward to hearing about what you're writing about and for what publication.

And on another note (sorry to hijack your blog about journalism techniques...), totally hire the Merry Maids. If you have the extra cash, just do it. It'll make things so much easier for you.

Christine said...

Thanks for the nice compliments about my post Julia. Hope O feels better soon.

Joke said...

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I publicly thank you here for pointing me to her.


P.S. See why I pray for you? It's called enlightened self-interest.

Kerri. said...

Sounds like one hell of an interview, my friend. :)

Good luck!

Quitter said...

Thank you so much for the link! :)