Knock, knock. Who’s there? Gillian Hamer

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Friday Guest
Interviewing the Stars

The last time I’d written any large amounts of non-fiction articles was during my creative writing distance learning course. And to be honest, I really enjoyed it. I adore research, so this was bliss. Dates, figures, places.

And it helped my fiction work too. Not only the need for regimented research, but also by burrowing into the subject to drain out every morsel of information.

From memory, I passed with honours as I managed to sell a couple of pieces – I got a travel piece accepted in a caravanning magazine, and a bio piece on Catherine Cookson published in the North East Times.

So, when the new literary magazine, Words with Jam, opened its doors – I was drawn back into the world of non-fiction articles. And I was lucky enough to be allowed to write about a subject I’m interested in – the progression from the written novel into other mediums.

With the second anniversary of the magazine looming, we needed something fresh. A conversation between myself and the editor went something along the lines …

How about interviewing the authors? 

Me? I said. 

Yeah. It’s worth a try. 

Okay boss … but don’t blame me if every door gets slammed in my face.

But so far, you know, not a single refusal!

Yes, there are a few that don’t respond to emails (or even agents who don’t respond to them) but, in the main, writers are just like you and I. They love their craft, are proud of their work – and in most cases more than pleased to talk about it. And you know, it has been a wonderful experience in so many ways. Wonderful at how affable and easy to contact most writers are. Wonderful to learn that in a good many cases, these successful authors have had just as many knock-backs and rejections as the average budding wannabe.

I like to send a wide selection of questions, usually twenty in total – and ask the author to respond to twelve or more. And each interviewee so far as answered pretty much every question. And I’ve never had to tamper with any reply!

In the past few issues, I’ve concentrated on crime. The brilliant Anne Cleeves gave an insight into how her love of the North East transmitted onto television – and her thoughts on working with the superb Brenda Blethyn as Vera. Peter Robinson gave us an insight into how he felt having finally secured a television deal for DCI Banks after a decade waiting; and Mark Billingham divulged how his thoughts on seeing his nemesis Tom Thorne hit the small screen.

I’m going to move away from my love of crime now – and look at other genres, taking in adaptations for theatre and the big screen. I’m not telling who yet – you’ll have to subscribe to the magazine to find out. But there are some biggies in the offing!

I’m thoroughly enjoying my new role of interviewer, and it’s amazing how much you can learn from speaking to people who’ve lived your dream.


If you’d like to read any of my interviews, please subscribe to Words with Jam – it’s free!

If you’d like any information about the authors discussed, please find relevant links below:

My website, for details of my own crime fiction novels.

  1. danholloway says:

    Interviewing’s fabulous, isn’ it! A great way to have an excuse to talk to all those people you’d really really love to talk to but never have the guts to go up to without the pretext. That’s a fabulous selection of names you’ve bagged!

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