I haven't read any of Laura's books, but she writes time travel/Scottish Historical Fiction, so that sounds interesting.
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Promotion. Marketing. I suspect these are two of the most dreaded words to an author's ear. We're authors because we like to write. But, sadly, it takes time to promote--time that we would generally prefer to spend writing. It usually takes money to promote, too.
Sometimes, however, we find one of those glorious, fun things that mix the worlds of promotion and writing. Character interviews are one of these. One of the popular, and often low-cost, methods of promotion among indie authors is to trade appearances on one another's blogs. These appearances might include book reviews, guest posts, author spotlights, author interviews, or...character interviews.
There's not much explanation needed here. The characters in the book answer the interview. And just as an interview with a celebrity might draw us to want to read their book, or watch their upcoming movie, or buy clothes from their designer fashion line, so too the idea of a character interview is that those who read it would become interested in these people, and want to learn more of their story.
One benefit of character interviews is that the possibilities are endless. You can interview not only major characters, but minor. You could interview the table in the room who has been privy to multiple conversations by multiple people--wouldn't that be interesting, having one 'character' who knows what everyone is up to!--or the horse who carries the king into battle.
What view do we get of a character--let's say a king--when he answers questions about himself versus when the queen answers the same questions about him, or his courtiers, his enemies, his friends, the laundress, or...his horse answer those questions about him. How a person thinks of himself, combined with what others say of him, is a fascinating way to pull together many aspects of character and get to who they really are.
While the goal of character interviews for promotions is to draw interest from readers, I find the very exercise of writing them is also beneficial to writing. Even years after Blue Bells of Scotland, and a year after Westering Home, the fourth book in the series, was published, I find that in answering interview questions as the people in my books, I'm still learning things about them, still seeing new angles, still realizing details or new facets that make me think, That has to go into the next book!
Actually, I found it hard to get Shawn to shut up and stick to a short list, but he's interjected some answers below.
Consider this short list of questions--and of course, there are potentially thousands:
- Are you the hero of your own story?
- What is your problem in the story? [Problem? I was stuck in medieval Scotland where they like to kill people for any little thing. Now I'm back to my own life, safe in the 21st century and everything should be perfect. But I can't get away from the guilt that I left them all behind, possibly to die, while I raced to safety. Plus, GOd has a wicked sense of humor. First time in my life I tell the truth--about where I was for that year--and nobody believes me. I mean, I get it. But I'm sick of the questions. And you're asking what is the problem?]
- Do you run from conflict? [I used to have a healthy belief that cowards live longer. Knowing Niall has really messed up my life. Now here I am considering going back to save him. I somehow managed to survive a few medieval battles and I don't want to tempt fate. But--inept as he is, as much as I had to keep saving him, from concussions, from hanging around MacDougall's dungeon (Get it? Hanging? Yeah, never mind)--yeah, despite his general failure to live up to all that I am, I kind of couldn't live with myself if I did nothing.]
- Do you think the author portrayed you accurately? [I'm sure I'm far better than she showed! Who could really sum me up accurately? Amy says I'm arrogant. No, I just know my good points!]
- Do you have a hero? [Okay, time to get serious here for once. Yeah. Niall. James Douglas. Robert the Bruce. Even the Laird, despite his constant belly-aching and glaring at me.]
- Do you have a goal?
- What are your achievements?
- Do you talk about your achievements? [Why wouldn't I? Albums and concert tickets don't sell themselves.]
- Do you have any special strengths? [Apart from my musical prodigiousness, charisma, and business acumen--I'm most likely the only man alive today who is strong enough to fight off a medieval warrior.]
- How do your enemies see you? [Before my time in medieval Scotland--who cares. Orchestral musicians, board of directors. I was running the show. The question is how I saw them--people who didn't know how to have fun. Of course--I have to admit now that I was wrong. They cared about Amy, and I wish I'd maybe listened to them. Shown them a little more respect. My enemies now are men like Simon Beaumont, Lord of Claverock, who want to kill my son. He underestimated me once. He ran. I'm betting he's still underestimating me. Next time he won't run. Because next time, he'll die. By my hand.]
- What do you want?
- What do you want to be?
- What makes you angry?
- What do you regret?
- What, if anything, haunts you? [That I left them all behind, possibly to die, the night I escaped back to the twenty-first century. Niall, Hugh, the Laird, Allene and Christina, Red. I abandoned them all. It never leaves me.]
We might learn about this person not only by how they answer--flippantly, with curt answers, evasively, with bold and colorful language, with multi-syllabic words or with f-bombs, with one- or two-word answers or with entire paragraphs--but even by which questions they choose to answer. One person might choose to answer the more introspective questions--what are your regrets, what do you fear--while another might choose more surface or straightforward factual questions--what's your favorite color, do you have money problems, what are your achievements?
In the end, just like interviewing a celebrity, even much like making conversation with new people at a party, the goal is to present an interesting person, someone people would like to get to know better!