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More on Interviews from Liz Rusch

The Rich Writer: More on Interviews from Liz Rusch

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More on Interviews from Liz Rusch

Elizabeth Rusch, nonfiction writer extraordinaire (, spoke at my SCBWI 2007 Fall Conference a few weeks ago. Two of her most recent books, Will It Blow? (Sasquatch Books, May 2007) and The Planet Hunter (Rising Moon Books, Fall 2007) draw extensively from interviews with scientists. She uses the first-hand information from the individuals who do the science to draw readers into the world of science. Liz gave a wonderful talk on the benefits and how-to's of using interviews to round out your writing at our conference. Here are a few of the tips she shared:

  1. For ANY subject, there is at least one expert. Her example? Ketchup. There is an expert in the field of ketchup. I kid you not. She read the article to us--from The New Yorker or Harpers Magazine.

  2. Why is this important? Because the expert will keep current in the subject. The expert can provide information that you can't find in books. The expert can answer questions, helping you learn about a topic more quickly and thoroughly than you could through book research. And (my favorite) the expert can give you unexpected information, bonus material that you can't find anywhere else.

  3. How do you find an expert? Google is an obvious starting point. Other sources include authors of recent books on the topic; authors of recent articles on the topic; university professors; and sources cited by other references you might find.

  4. Do your research first. The more you know about the subject, the better research questions you can ask.

  5. Include "The Most" questions in your interview. These are the questions that give you good stories for your book or article. What was most important? most surprising? most difficult? most fun? I used her advice in my most recent interview and asked for "the funniest" things that had happened during the research--with some wonderful results. And no, I'm not going to share the answers here: they're for the article :).

Interviews are a great way to add life to a book or article. They can provide quotes, anecdotes, new perspective, greater understanding, personal insight. They connect the writer to other people, other lives. Give it a try!

:) Cheryl

PS--No, that's not Liz Rusch. Since the emus inspired this thread on interviews, I thought they rated another picture....

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