Without a doubt, my favorite podcast–literary or otherwise–is Other People. I’m not just saying that because I’m the subject of today’s show.
Other People is run by a guy named Brad Listi. He’s the author of Attention. Deficit. Disorder. and one of the founders of a literary web site called The Nervous Breakdown. He’s also a great interviewer. I don’t say things like that lightly. I ran a punk rock magazine for years, and I read punk rock fanzines for even longer. I’ve become very picky about what interviews I’ll read or listen to. They can get so dry sometimes: the same old questions, the same perfunctory answers.
There seems to be two ways to avoid this type of interview. You can either research the hell out of the person you plan to interview, talk to people you know in common, and dig out the embarrassing or personal or insightful things that you discovered. Todd Taylor has mastered this approach in his Razorcake interviews. (Check out this Duane Peters one, if you doubt me.)
The other way to avoid a dry interview is to come in with no expectations, really listen to your subject, and build off her responses in an organic way. This is tough. It requires you to have a rich, interesting conversation with a total stranger, to take this stressful situation and make it seem totally relaxed. Brad Listi tends to do this (over the phone, which, believe me, is even tougher).
I’ve been listening to Other People for a while now. It’s clear to me that Brad doesn’t typically read the books of the authors he interviews ahead of time. I’m okay with that. I usually haven’t heard about the authors, either. I like the process of discovery that occurs. I also like that he takes writers out of their element. He forces writers to discuss what he wants to discuss, not what they want to.
While that’s great if you’re the listener, it’s a little tougher if you’re being interviewed. Brad interviewed me. He somehow got me talking way too much about my carpentry days. At several points in the interview, I was thinking to myself, can’t we talk about my novel now? Still, if the interview with me is anything like his typical interviews, it should be enjoyable.
You can listen to it by clicking the picture at the top of this post or by clicking this link here.