Saturday, August 9, 2014

Please do the interview. It’s quick, easy, and generous.

As a pop culture archaeologist, I consider it an obligation to help document as much of entertainment history as possible before it’s too late. Everyone—no matter how small a role in how small a production—has a story worth listening to. You just have to ask.

Sometimes multiple times.

But some decline. And some don’t respond at all.

This plea is for you.

Why you should say yes when I ask to interview you for an oral history series:

  • Exclusivity: You are the hero of your own story. You are the only one with certain knowledge and experience, and this may be the only time you’re asked about it.
  • Graciousness: You have fans you don’t realize you have, no matter how removed you may feel from your role. Any memories you are willing to share will matter to them, no matter how unlikely it may seem to you.
  • Ease: The time commitment versus the goodwill your interview would bring is disproportionate: minimal time now will make many happy over many years.
  • Perspective: I focus on your connection to a pivotal moment in pop culture; it’s not an in-depth probe into your personal life.
  • Benefit: Since my series are typically online, that means free and ongoing mainstream PR for any business or cause you might like to champion. Original content gets discovered and shared and you could ride that wave. Some people I have found and interviewed have then been hired to appear at conventions and sign autographs.
  • Posterity. I believe we should all do our part to preserve the stories we were part of. You never know what cultural events will prove important to a future author, scholar, producer, fan.
  • Quality: Distinguished company. My interviews reveal many ways people are doing good in the world. 
  • Fulfillment: Past interviewees report that reminiscing was fun and meaningful—even if they didn’t expect it to be.

Concerned about privacy?

I run your words as is, without editorializing. You are in control; you decide exactly what you want to say and how. (Whenever possible, I conduct interviews by email so you can compose your answers carefully and at your own convenience.)

Concerned about trust?

I am the author of more than 70 books for children and I am regularly invited to speak in schools internationally. A glimpse at my prior work should assure you that I am a professional who respects and protects the people I feature. In some cases, I have been the first person an interview subject has felt comfortable speaking with on record. I don’t give out contact info, of course, or any other details not included in your interview.

Tantalizingly, [the] story behind the birth of Batman is every bit as intriguing as the caped wonder. … Not only is this thoroughly researched story of artistic injustice intriguing, but the description of how hard the author worked to uncover details about what happened decades ago is inspiring. 
Barbara A. Ward, International Reading Association 

Nobleman’s efforts could easily turn cheap or exploitative, if he wasn’t so respectful of his subjects and such a thoughtful interviewer. This approach has led to some rather moving Q&As.
A.V. Club 

So if you’ve said yes to an interview, thank you again.

If you’ve said no, please reconsider. I will be grateful on behalf of untold thousands. And you will feel good about it after. I have seen this happen time and again.

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