I'm scheduled to do an interview with The Times Newspaper on Tuesday. The reporter is coming to my home and bringing a photographer (Damn. I have to clean the house).
Wondering if anyone can offer any tips on the do's and don'ts of interviews.
Thanks!

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My experience has been that most interviews are fairly benign affairs. (I'm assuming your are being interviewed because you're a novelist, not a city council member under indictment.)

Since it's for print, you don't have to worry about speaking in front of a camera which is a whole other experience. Be yourself. Don't ramble and you know, say things like "you know" a lot. Try not to mention any recent felonies. You'll do fine.
You might ask the reporter to e-mail you some the of questions ahead of time so you can prepare your answer. Last month I gave an interview for a similar publication. I asked for the general questions in advanced and typed out the answers. The reporter was thrilled to have those spelled out for her and doing so allowed us to use the interview time to elaborate on other things of interest about the book, me, and my writing.
Marta
For better or worse, reporters like to have fictional works linked to non-fictional happenings. Be sure to say if your book was inspired by a real-life situation (for instance, if you've written a thriller inspired by an actual murder case, talk a little about the real case). Also if you have had real-life experiences that provided material for the novel, talk about those experiences. If your book is set in the city the reporter works in, talk a bit about how you chose the particular settings and how they contributed to the story. Anything that helps you connect with the reader will be of interest to the reporter. Have a vivid, intriguing summary of your plot ready to hand if the reporter asks you to explain what your book is about. Frankly, it's rare that a reporter will have had time to read your book before the interview.
As a journalist who's interviewed authors, I've always read the books before the interview. Any reporter who doesn't will not be prepared. And normally newspaper reporters will not give questions beforehand. That's just not done, at least not in my experience.

If the reporter has read your book, it will be much easier. The reporter will be able to ask pertinent questions and you'll just have to have the answers. If the reporter has not read the book, give your usual speech that you would give anyone who has not read your book, explain the plot, the protagonist, the setting, anything that will connect the book to the community so people reading the story will be interested.

All due respect to the gentleman here who suggests you schmooze the reporter: Don't do that. Reporters don't like suckups. We are not there to be flattered, we are there to ask questions and get a job done.

As an author who has been interviewed by reporters who have both read and not read my book, be prepared to be inaccurately quoted. Even if there's a tape recorder involved. As a reporter interviewing authors, I've been told I've been very accurate in my stories, but this is not the norm. I actually had a reporter write that I was smiling as I gave an answer to a question. It was a phone interview. I have no idea how the reporter saw me smile, if in fact I did at all.
Wow! Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. Many good tips and advice. I've only done one other newspaper interview but it was by phone. I like the idea of only having to clean one room. Martha Stewart I am not.
I'll let you know how it goes!
Interviews are easy, though it will help a lot if you have the questions ahead of time. I love doing the sorts of interviews which involve e-mail rather than personal visits from reporters. I have done the latter minus advance questions and ended up disappointed because I wanted the interviewer (who was the paper's book reviewer) to review my book. Instead he slanted his write-up toward second careers. People don't buy books because the author has chosen a second career. They buy books because they are good to read. Hardly anything in the feature dealt with the novel.
I'm glad Karen brought up the inaccurate quote. I've been interviewed about a dozen times and even though the reporters were all supportive and wanted me to succeed, each one got something wrong somewhere. It was never a big deal, but it happened. Prepare yourself for it.

The only thing I would add, and this is just me, is try to keep your interview about your book. We all like to talk about ourselves, but always bring it back to the book. That's what you're selling. The few times I let the flattery of being interviewed get the best of me, I regretted it. Stick to the work.

As you get interviewed more, don't worry about telling the same story more than once. If you've got a killer anecdote or a clever line that explains the book, one that you know works, use it. Your exposure, unless you land on Oprah's couch, will be so minimal that you'll get tired of it long before any reader will.
Don't ask the reporter if you can see the story ahead of time. (That's a big no-no for us reporter types.)

You can ask, however, that the reporter give you a call back before the story runs and read your quotes back to you.

If the reporter does make factual errors, don't let it slide. Call them. Call their editor if they don't take care of it. Get it corrected.

Good luck!

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