Questions you should ask writers

I’ve recently read a bunch of articles along the lines of, “Questions You Should Never Ask a Writer.” These include a blog post by Danielle Steel, who has sold 800 million books but is peeved by men who ask, “So, are you still writing?”

What this does is that it immediately puts my writing into the category as a hobby. As in, are you still taking piano lessons, doing macrame, have a parrot? … The comment is an immediate put down. It is a way of suggesting that what I do is really not very important.

Steel also notes: “The other comment men like to make is another winner ‘My maid just loves your books’. Really, well thank God for her.”

I’ve written before about annoying questions. I’ve been asked, “Isn’t it nice that your hobby has turned into something?” At a high school Career Day, a banker asked: “Have any of these novels of yours been published?” This man had heard my professional qualifications announced to a packed auditorium, and was at that very moment staring at the copy of Kill Chain in my hand, which featured quotes on the cover from the Guardian and Stephen King.

But as fun as it is to rant, it’s more constructive to offer suggestions about questions authors love. (Or at least this author.) Please ask:

What’s the hardest part of writing a book?

How do you conduct research?

How did you learn about X? (Skip tracing, search and rescue, the destruction of worn out currency.)

Have you ever killed off a character and regretted it?

Have you ever planned to kill off a minor character and instead saved him?

What’s something that readers don’t know about your main character?

What’s harder to write — chase scenes or love scenes? Why?

Who are your favorite characters?

What topic are you dying to write about?

Let me know if you think of any other good ones.

4 responses to “Questions you should ask writers

  1. Like these questions: How about, “Do you plan to bring back (X character) in another book?” or “Have you ever considered writing in another genre?” Both were posed by a couple of different groups recently. I liked yours asking about regretting killing off a character. So, I have to ask of course, have you?

  2. I second that question: have you ever regretted killing off a character? And, of course, if so, which one?

  3. This may require a separate post. Hmm.

  4. Pingback: Killing characters: any regrets? | lying for a living

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