I’ll never forget talking to a writer who had just interviewed a Very Important Person in the film industry, only to realize after the phone call that the app she used had failed to record their conversation. I once knocked over an entire glass of water onto my laptop while interviewing a bunch of authors in front of a live audience. Mishaps happen, but over the years I’ve learned a lot about the art of the interview: enough to feel prepared even when things don’t go according to plan, whether that means the conversation going in an entirely different direction than you anticipated or getting a stubborn person to open up or cleaning up messes. My experience as an interviewer is wide-ranging, from producing a segment for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric to interviewing authors for publications like The Los Angeles Times, The Paris Review Daily, The Barnes & Noble Review, and Vulture to hosting my own literary series at Books are Magic called Red Ink.
Interviews are an important part of a writer’s life at any stage of their career. Whether you’re working on a reported story, conducting research for a novel, answering questions about your own book, or interviewing other writers as part of a literary event, the big question is how to ask the right questions. In this three-hour master class, you’ll listen to/watch examples of successful interviews and learn the right tools for getting people to open up. You'll learn how to prepare for an interview, improvise during difficult situations, and put what you learn to use. For the last hour of the class, I’ll interview prolific interviewer Isaac Fitzgerald, former co-host of Buzzfeed’s AM to DM and author of How to Be a Pirate. You’ll have the opportunity to ask us any questions you might have about the interview process.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- How to prepare for an interview, including how to come up with questions that get the subject to open up or expand upon something they’ve already said.
- How to be the subject of an interview
- How to conduct interviews for publications
- Best practices for moderating panels or interviewing someone in front of a live audience
This is a one-day workshop, so no preparation is necessary. Students should plan on being able to watch video clips or listen to audio clips while the workshop is in session. (The instructor will share links that day.)
Michele Filgate’s work has appeared in Longreads; The Washington Post; the Los Angeles Times; The Boston Globe; The Paris Review Daily;Tin House; Gulf Coast; O, The Oprah Magazine; BuzzFeed; Refinery29; and many other publications. She’s a contributing editor at Literary Hub and the editor of What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About, a critically acclaimed anthology published by Simon & Schuster. Michele curates and hosts the Red Ink series at Books are Magic in Brooklyn.
"Michele is the calm soothing voice you want next to you as you burrow into your writing. There is a sensitivity and attentiveness in her critiques- two important qualities that ultimately lead you to finding your way out of the labyrinthine writing process."
"Michele is the kind of woman you meet and think, ‘Wow. She really loves what she does.’ Her passion for writing and teaching writing pervades all aspects of her class. She enthusiastically challenges her students to stop censoring themselves and to explore their writing on a deeper level–the kind of challenging personal writing that means the most in the grand scheme of life. All of us in class were able to share a piece of our individual experiences through writing that we had never shared before."
"Michele gives such precise and inspired notes on work you’ll think she slipped into your head. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of writers (you’ll likely end up with a delicious stack on your nightstand to keep the well full). She’s gracious, kind, funny, and genuinely cares about her students. I was hesitant to spend the money for her class but it was worth every penny."
"Michele is uniquely talented at guiding writers of all levels and stages of the game into expanding the way they look at their work and develop it towards a goal. She has a brilliant knack for identifying what’s working — and what’s not — within a piece, and guiding students to shape an arc, a character, and a story. I would take a class with her again in a heartbeat."
"Michele is a fantastic mentor who shows patience, humility, and generosity to her students. She’s an enthusiastic champion for all of those ‘am I really a writer?’ writers out there. You’ll leave her class with confidence in your ability and gain many opportunities to get to those necessary next steps in your writing life."
"Over years of knowing Michele and reading her work, I’ve watched her guide countless other voices into the public sphere with professionalism and care. Her enthusiasm for new writing and publishing is rare and inspiring."