Kevin Smokler is the author of Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books you Haven’t Touched Since High School, an essay collection on the year he spent rereading 50 canonical texts from high school English class as a 39-year-old adult.
Out of everything shared in the #Longreads community, I particularly love the interviews. I even created my own hashtag (#deepinterviews) and you can find my most recent picks here.
And when it comes to authors, a great interview can completely reframe a book that you’ve read a thousand times, or give you the onramp into an writer’s work you haven’t yet experienced. Below are five of my favorite sources and recent discoveries for outstanding author interviews:
1. The Paris Review
Favorites: Take your pick. I’m particularly fond of authors you know are great talkers (Dorothy Parker, James Ellroy), who don’t show up much in MFA programs (William Gibson, Maya Angelou) and those who work in more than one genre (Joan Didion, Lillian Hellman).
2. The Millions
Favorites: Adam Mansbach, Michelle Orange and Katherine Boo.
3. AV Club
Favorites: Terry Pratchett, TV Critic Alan Sepinwall, Jonathan Franzen.
4. eMusic Q&A
I’ve been an eMusic subscriber for years and had no idea they trafficked in audiobooks. That is until I ran across a very fine Q&A with short story writer Elissa Schappell. The audiobook of Schappell’s collection “Building Blueprints for Better Girls” was the excuse to talk with her not only about her work but the music that inspired it.
Other favorites: Eddie Huang, George Saunders, Greil Marcus, Ernie Cline.
5. Book Riot
Favorites: “Their 15 Minutiae” (with Emma Straub here) in which writers are asked about everything EXCEPT books and writing. Conceived and executed by bookseller Liberty Hardy, it’s a brilliant example of how an interview with an author should reveal the author as an interesting person who writes books not someone interesting because they write books.
Addendum: Ms. Hardy is also the creator of Paperback to the Future, a Netflix/Personal Shopper for Books kind of program. Which means she is crazy busy these days and “Their 15 Minutiae” is on temporary hold. We understand why but still say “come back soon.”
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Share your favorite interviews in the comments.