To celebrate Kill Your Darlings’ new website, we’ve asked some of our favourite contributors from past years to reflect on their early writing experiences and share their advice for emerging writers.
Today, we hear from Brodie Lancaster. Brodie’s writing can be found in KYD #21 (‘The Kim K-Hole: Adventures in Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood’) and online (‘We Are All Kardashians’).
I re-learn my most valuable writing lessons every time I summon the strength to read the interview I did with Ed Sheeran in 2011. He had released one single and zero albums at the time, and there were only, like, three Google Images of him. I got a press release from his label declaring him the next big thing and, despite never believing PR people when they say that, I took them up on their offer of an email interview because I was a novice web editor with a daily content quota to meet and no budget for contributors to fill it.
The interview was horrible and I will not link to it here, but this is what it taught me:
Lesson 1: Email interviews are garbage. You have no gauge on your interviewee’s tone and they can ignore/disregard/minimise your questions however they like. Despite this…
Lesson 2: …I was ultimately to blame for this email interview’s garbage-ness. When a writer is too lazy/nervous to pick up the phone (or Skype bill) they force their subject to do all the work. Setting an interview time takes effort and negotiation, and transcribing sucks, but they are the prices to pay for a good interview. It took me years to work this out.
Lesson 3: Even if you don’t know much about an artist; even if you resent having to interview them just because you need *content*; even if you have no idea that the artist will go on to perform with Beyoncé and write songs for the silly boy band you will eventually be obsessed with, you need to work harder than just asking them to describe their sound.