Meeting the Enemy

Last week I wrote about interviewing Alice Hoffman and the value of meeting an author whose work I love. I had an equally valuable experience a few months after interviewing Hoffman when I sat down to read a novel by another author I’d soon be interviewing. It was a suspense novel, and not a book I would normally read, but I was used to that; I had decided from its inception that the writers I interviewed for Author would not be chosen based on my aesthetic. This was a little different. I knew from Chapter One that I didn’t like this book. I didn’t like the way it was written and I didn’t like the story the author had chosen to tell. By Chapter Two, I really didn’t like it, and by Chapter Three I was complaining about it so much that my wife finally said, “So just stop reading it!” I took her advice, but I was very concerned about the upcoming interview. How could this go well? I felt so strongly about the book that I had the vague sense I would be meeting my enemy.

The day of the interview arrived. I found the author at a coffee shop next to the bookstore, eating a giant piece of carrot cake. “I love carrot cake!” he told me right away. “If I see it, I order it.” I told him I liked carrot cake too and soon we were walking to where we’d set up the camera, chatting about music and writing under deadline. We sat in our facing chairs and I asked if he was ready. “Oh hell, Bill,” he said. “I was born ready.”

It was a great interview. The author loved suspense fiction. He loved it the way he loved carrot cake and music and I am sure many other things that we didn’t talk about that day. Sitting with him, talking about all the things he loved, I remembered that I had once thought it necessary to complain about his book. The man who had complained about his book felt like a stranger to me now, whereas the author now felt like a friend.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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