Literary Help Needed!

Good day to you fair ‘Spillers – I’m hoping to pick your gigantic communal brain on literary matters. I am about to start producing literary podcasts for a client, and need your help please. The podcasts will have a basic format where an author reads and is interviewed and takes questions from an audience. All well and good and quite straight forward. What I quite like the idea of is the same five awesome/bizarre/funny/deep questions being asked of the different authors, kinda like an EOTWQ with a literary bent, which I think would add up to an interesting feature – and this is where I need your help please!

If you can put your amazing questions in the comments I will be most incredibly grateful – no such thing as a bad question! Thank you so much!

37 thoughts on “Literary Help Needed!

  1. Authors are always being asked for advice, but what is the advice that you yourself were given which you found most useful?

  2. CS Lewis once wrote: instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified.. Which passage from your own writing are you most proud of, that either follows this advice about adjectives, or goes against it ?

    Maybe a bit long-winded….

  3. Would you (want to) swap with JK Rowling?

    Can you crochet?

    Were you teacher’s pet at school?

    Do you do your own ironing?

    What colour were your first lover’s eyes?

    Tea or coffee? Or absinthe?

    Do you blog?

    What does a Scotsman wear under his kilt?

      • Yeah, I decided to ignore the ‘deep’ bit and just run with ‘bizarre’. Blimpy, I missed out on seeing Rachel Sermanni at the weekend, so feel free to shed a tear on my behalf!

  4. what starts you off on a book.. a title and then a whole book to explain it, a great first line or maybe a good ending

  5. Actually I have been trying to write a book ( detective / romance ) since I was in high school so I have some questions I would really like to ask ! ! !

    But for one question to ask to several different authors each week, I think . . . .

    Do you write about something or just write?

  6. Which writer(s) inspired you when you were a child / teenager?

    Which book do you wish you had written?

    How do you encourage people to keep reading books in the digital publishing environment?

    What do you think about the penguin / Random House merger?

    Which books are on your bedside table?

  7. Can you describe who you think your typical reader is?

    Who would you most like to read your book (either ‘type’ of person or a specific person)? And why?

  8. Well, I feel like one of Top Cat’s gang hearing the distant bashing of dustbin lids – “sorry, baby, TC’s talking about literary stuff on the ‘Spill, gotta scoot…”

    Anyway, hello etc, sorry for being a stranger and onto the matter in hand –

    Q: Very little goes on in a writer’s life that doesn’t have the potential to be exploited as writing somewhere down the line but is there any part of your life, past or present, that’s too private to expose in your writing?

    Anecdotes about the most ludicrously head-swelling or heartbreakingly demeaning treatment received in the occupation of being a writer can be entertaining as well.

    And for some reason, this:

    Q: Ernest Hemingway comes up to you: fuck, or fight?

  9. 1a. How important to humanity, as a whole, do you consider your literary work to be?
    1b. Why?
    2a. You are in a burning building and have the time to either save the only manuscript of your latest literary masterpiece or a stranger who is calling for help from another room. Which do you save?
    2b. Why?
    3a. If you had to choose between books and music for the rest of your life, which would it be?
    3b. Why?
    4. The works of Shakespeare, Dickens, Joyce, Enid Blyton, Tolstoy, Tolkien, Hardy etc etc already exist. Why do you bother?
    5a. What are your greatest failings as a writer?
    5b. Explain.

  10. If, by error, someone put the wrong blurb on the cover of your book, what would you like it to say?

    Complete the following sentence: My book is redolent of . . .

    Would you still be an author if you were blind?

  11. – A wise man once said “Life is just a bowl of All-Bran – you wake up in the morning and it’s there”. Complete the sentence: Life is…

    – when was the last time you did the Conga?

    – if your book was an animal, what animal would it be?

    – Cecil Day-Lewis said he “writes to understand, not to be understood” – Is that true for you too?

  12. What’s the dumbest question you’ve been asked in an interview ?

    Do you see the rise of “self publishing” on e-books etc as a threat to traditional modes of publishing or an opportunity ?

    Can I have a free copy of your latest book ?

  13. I recently read a piece by a writer about the questions they hate the most; can’t remember any details (maybe it was someone like Franzen, being thoroughly up himself as usual), but none of these were on the list…

    This is a sort of variant on Tempusfugit’s third question: which sense would you be most reluctant to lose, and how would it affect your writing?

  14. Thanks all! I look forward to going through these, once I’ve done the prep for this afternoon’s halloween party…..and endured it…..and cleared up afterwards….

  15. 1. Emotionally, are you a forest or a desert?

    2. What’s the easiest emotion to write?

    3. What’s the hardest?

    Happy Halloween Blimpy!

  16. OK, I am now going to collate these questions and then fling them at the literary types to see if we can ask the author ten of them, quick fire style, at tonight’s recording.

    Thanks for all your help, and I’ll keep you updated as to what japes may occur. I think the test subject just wrote a book about crime n stuff, so my question would be “how did you get away with your last murder?”

  17. Bother, am I too late?

    [If you write fiction] do the people you know recognise themselves in your books and, if so, are they cross?

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