Asking the Right Questions

Hello, world, and welcome to June!

It doesn’t feel like this year should be half over yet. I know that the older we get the quicker time flies, as each second becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of our overall lifespan…but six months into 2011? Really?

And even more incredibly than that…how on earth did I manage to interview 30 authors on my website in the month of May?

It all started out innocently enough: I had a laundry list of authors on my to-do page that needed to be addressed, and I had my fairy goddaughters for Bring Your Child to Work Day. It was a match made in heaven. We came up with a list of fun and silly questions and decided to send them to everyone.

Yes, everyone.

Within a week I had twenty sets of answers from fiction authors whom I’ve known and respected for a very long time. Add to that five authors from the Magical Words Blog, and I was left with only a week to fill on the fly once I got back from the Nebula Awards. Easy-peasy-Japanesey.

What I didn’t realize when the girls and I came up with those quick and silly questions was how incredibly insightful they would be. (More than few of them were turned into Mermaid Profile Questions.) The interviews weren’t only fun to read, they were intriguing and inspiring. They were everything Barbara Walters hopes she can get out of her victims and more. (You can see the full list of interviews here.)

In The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams told us that the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42. What we don’t know is the question. There is much wisdom in asking the right question.

I learned some very interesting things last month. I learned that I am not the only author who chooses coffee or tea depending on the situation, or who is afraid of really silly things. I learned that writers dream big…but also realistically. When asked to list three things they wanted to do before they died, most people listed incredibly attainable things. When asked how many words they wished they could write in a single day, most people’s goals were easily reachable. (Only Avery Mermaid and I really went crazy on that one.) And I found so many more things to put on my Princess List.

Writers are clever. Writers are funny. Writers live to experience things. Writers thrive on a sense of community. Writers love answering questions (but often hate choosing between two things). But most of all, writers are real. We build our castles in the sky, but we know our foundations must be planted firmly in the ground.

Last month, I learned things I never knew about friends I’ve had for…well, for some, around a decade. It is amazing how much you can find out about a person by asking a silly question. What’s your favorite word? Your favorite dessert? Your top 5 desert island albums? What schoolyard songs do you remember? How about your favorite board game as a child?

What are some other great silly questions? Go on, ask them.
If we’re lucky, we might just stumble upon Life, the Universe, and Everything.

12 thoughts on “Asking the Right Questions

  1. Well, considering I used to have a Question of the Day blog…. But, ahem, I’m a little out of practice. Let’s see:

    – What is the quintessential American movie?

    – Where was your first kiss?

    – What record/CD did you listen to more than any other in high school?

    – When you were five, what did you want to be when you grew up? (I wanted to be a waitress. Thought it was sooo glamorous – what with that pen and pad and all.) 😉

  2. I’ve always liked:
    For the rest of your life, would you rather have great sex and mediocre food, or mediocre sex and great food?
    If you could only eat one protein, one vegetable, one carbohydrate, and one dairy for the rest of your life, what would they be?
    What is your perfect day? Perfect meal?

    (Notice a theme here?)

  3. I hear you on the time flying by! And congrats on all those author, that’s a lot. Ooh, I just thought of a silly question to add…Which Sandy (Grease) are you–pom poms and ponytail or black leather and high heels?

  4. Alethea,
    It’s interesting how people answer questions and what you can infer by seemingly simple answers. When you answer that same question with a bit more depth, you can really see what matters to people. If someone’s answer to their favorite color is green, but then they go on to explain that green was the color of their favorite grandmother’s eyes…well, we begin to peel back those layers.
    I think a cool–if obvious question–would be: If you could travel to any time (past or future), where would you go and why?
    I loved the other questions. God, the one about food and sex is extremely hard. I love both.
    My first kiss was in the back of a nursery at my high school during a basketball game…don’t ask.
    My favorite American movie would probably be Gone with the Wind or The Breakfast Club.
    Fun post!

  5. Lee – fun post!

    I love the questions from “The Actr’s Studio” show”

    What is your favorite sound?
    What is your favorite word? least favorite?
    What is your favorite curse word?
    If you could do any other profession what would it be?

  6. If you could pick the man of your dreams (not hubbies) what actor/celebrity would he most look like? Hugh Jackman for me or maybe Alex O’Loughlin

    If you could be an actress, who would you be? Maureen O’Hara (always loved her).

    And what song do you wish you could sing if you were to compete in the final American Idol contest? Celine Dion’s, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”.

    Great blog, Lee!

  7. Robin – I loved those questions, too, from The Actor’s Studio.

    Mmmm. My first kiss gets me because I’m struggling to remember but I think it was Jimmy Brown, first grade, and I was in love.

    My favorite American movie? The Godfather or Gone with the Wind…

    Okay, it’s too late. I can’t remember or decide:), but Alethea, I enjoyed reading your blog post.

  8. Thanks, ladies! Great questions. Now, how would your characters answer these questions??

    Robin — that reminds me of a question asked to Johnny Depp (I believe this was also “Inside the Actor’s Studio”): “When you arrive at the pearly gates, what will God say to you?”

    Johnny: “Wow.”

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