Today I’m launching a new feature on this blog. I’m trying to launch a series of weekly interviews on Fridays. I’m looking forward to this, and I already have some good interviews lined up.
I figured that I may as well learn from someone who has set the pace for doing this. Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and speaker who has done a great job of posting interviews every Friday on his site called Friday Five. I’m grateful that Dan agreed to let me ask him some questions.
I love your “Friday Five” interviews. How did you come up with this idea?
I’ve always loved asking questions. And a couple of years ago, I was looking to add more content to my blog. It occurred to me that through my writing and preaching ministry I’ve come to know some really gifted authors and speakers. I thought I would leverage those relationships to bring some interesting content to my readers. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed reading interviews. So I thought I would make it somewhat easy and only ask five questions, something you could read in a few minutes and that wouldn’t be terribly difficult for busy people to answer. So far it’s grown and now I have places like Patheos.com pick up some of the more notable interviews.
You’ve interviewed some pretty big names. Have you been surprised by people who have agreed to be interviewed?
I have been surprised, actually. When I first started doing it, I wasn’t sure if anyone would agree to be interviewed. But it seems the email format makes it easier. They don’t have to make an appointment, go somewhere, be on camera, etc. They can simply take 15-30 minutes and answer five questions when it’s convenient.
Also, I’m finding out that really famous people are, at the end of the day, people, who would like to get out the message they feel God has put on their hearts.
Any favorite moments?
Well, perhaps the coolest moment was when I got to interview Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President Bush. He’s a guy I had always admired. I couldn’t believe he agreed to do the interview. I was fortunate that his book with Moody, City of Man
. He gave me some really original answers to some of the critics of the book and it was retweeted and linked to by several top bloggers. My traffic went through the roof. Funny thing is that I had just read the book and thought to find his website and email him. Surprisingly, he responded right away and did the interview.
How have the interviews helped you and your ministry?
They have. For one thing, they have allowed me to get to know some really smart and gifted people. With some people, the interviews were the launching point toward developing good relationships.
They’ve also helped me learn more about ministry and life–I think asking questions is the surest way to learn and grow. Christians, I think, need more curious minds. It also has given me a broader perspective of the world. Sometimes we accept the caricature of those with whom we disagree on methodology or theology and then we find out they are more like us than we realize. It also helps to stretch us out of our idolatrous comfort zones.
What advice would you have for other bloggers who are interested in doing interviews?
I would wholeheartedly encourage them. Here’s a dirty secret. Authors want exposure. They’d love for you to ask them questions about their books or ministry. And often you may not have time to review a hundred books, but you can ask good questions.
As for tips, first, I would encourage bloggers to limit the questions to three to five. You’ll be more likely to get a response that way. Secondly, ask questions that are beyond the obvious, ask questions sure to provoke an interesting answer. Third, if you’re going to have a weekly feature, you need to constantly be searching for new interviewees–so you always have interviews in the queue to feature. I tend to ask people for interviews after I’ve read their books and want to know more about them. I also am on the mailing lists for a few Christian Publishers so I tend to choose interviews based on books that look interesting.
Doing interviews by email is by far the best way to get the most out of people. And sometimes you might even ask them what kind of questions would be good so you have some help shaping the interview. I’ve done a couple via Skype at the author’s request, by via email they can complete at their leisure.
You can read more from Daniel at his blog DanielDarling.com.