Every author is different; they come from different backgrounds, have different experiences and different interests. Therefore it is wise to research as much as you can about the author first so that you can ask some really interesting questions relevant to them and their writing. These questions are designed to help you, but there will always be additional questions that come to mind when you are researching your author, so jot them down as you do your research.
Questions about writing
- When did you first realise you wanted to be an author? What inspired you?
- What is your favourite genre to write? Why do you like writing it?
- What hobbies do you like? Do they appear in your writing?
- There are a lot more books now that include LGBTQAI+ characters and characters with black or brown skin or characters from diverse cultural backgrounds. Is this something you actively seek to do? Do you think it is possible to write authentically about a characteristic if you don’t have it yourself?
- How many books have you written? How long does it take to write each one?
- Where do you find your inspiration to write?
- Do you read your reviews – do negative reviews upset you? How do you deal with them?
- Have you ever ghost-written for somebody famous?
- How different is writing books for publishing compared to writing stories for school?
- Do your write a little each day or do you write lots in one go followed by none for days?
- What is your most common mistake that you or your editor has to fix?
- How long do you spend researching compared to writing?
- How much do you rewrite?
- How much do you write per day – do you have time set aside?
- Which is your favourite book that you have written and what is it that you like so much about it?
- Which age group do you prefer to write for and why?
- What made you want to be an author?
- What’s the title of your next book?
- What made you decide that you wanted to write for children?
Questions About Reading
- Who is your favourite author? What is it that you like about them?
- What is your favourite genre to read? What do you like about it?
- Which author do you most admire and why?
- What is it about your favourite childhood book that makes it so memorable?
- Were you a reader when you were young? How did you get into reading?
- Do you enjoy reading your own stories – have you ever cried or laughed out loud at one of your own stories?
- What makes a story exciting in your opinion?
- At what age did you start reading?
- When a new book comes out in a series you like, do you re-read the whole series up to that book?
- If you find an author you like, do you read everything they’ve written?
- How would you like history to remember you?
- What were you like at school?
- If you weren’t a writer, what would you want your job to be?
- Do you have lots of author friends? Do you all know each other?
- Do you like living where you are?
- Have you kept in touch with friends from school?
- Would you rather stop writing or stop reading?
- What was your favourite subject at school?
- What is your favourite food?
- What genre of music do you enjoy?
- Have you ever had any other jobs?
- What did you think you wanted to be when you were still at school or have you always wanted to be an author?
- Do you like being famous?
- What would your job be if you weren’t an author?
How to avoid asking questions that may be rude!
There are some questions that we are taught never to ask – how old are you? How much do you earn? Do you have a disability? Are you gay? It’s personal information that somebody may not be comfortable sharing. However, it may be that the question is really relevant to you. Perhaps you want to know if the earnings are going to be enough for you personally if you make it a career. Maybe you have a disability and want to know if it will affect your chance of obtaining a literary agent or publishing deal. So here are some ways of asking those questions without causing offence. These questions do not ask what you want to know directly, but they open the path if the author wants to share more.
- How old were you when you first started writing?
- How old were you when you published your first book?
- Do you think you will continue to write all your life?
- Do you get paid per book or per publishing deal?
- Is it possible to make a living from writing or do you need another job alongside?
- How many books did it take before you could leave your day job to focus solely on writing?
- Do you think a writer with a disability should write a character with that same disability?
- Is it possible to write a character with a disability if you have not experienced that disability yourself?
- Do you think writers should include more LGBTQAI+ characters in books?
- Can an author write authentically about LGBTQAI+ if they themselves have not experienced living that life?
I hope these questions will help you when an author visits your school. The authors are usually just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them! Enjoy the visit 😊