I’ve been thinking about how, in life, there are so many before and afters: learning to drive – you don’t know how and then you do, graduations – you were in high school and then you aren’t, etc. Maybe interviewing a writing superstar doesn’t rank high on many people’s lists, but it was way up there for me. As I was anticipating the event, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to journal about how I was feeling both before and after.
What’s below is largely unedited, because I wanted to represent my thoughts as they were happening as opposed to something refined and curated, so don’t be surprised at the ramble-y-ness.
Tomorrow night, I have the honor of interviewing Casey McQuiston for the Galena Public Library’s Litfest. Casey is the author of Red, White & Royal Blue, one of my all-time favorite books. We’re talking deserted-island book worthy.
A few weeks ago, I had a stress dream about it. I’d lost my list of questions. We were doing the interview live and on camera, and although I felt sure I could remember most of my own questions, I couldn’t remember the questions that were sent in ahead of time. I didn’t want to ask Larissa (who set up everything) if she had a copy because I was so embarrassed I’d forgotten the list. Then I thought maybe I could access them through my phone. Except it wasn’t my phone I had. I called my husband to ask him to bring me my phone, but he was out and about with our son. I found another phone (both yellow), but that one wasn’t mine either. Casey was getting their hair styled and was so nice, but I was in a blind panic. I wanted the interview to start so it could be over.
After that, I became nervous about the interview until this week, when I went back to my usual chill state (mostly), the dread replaced by excitement. I have So. Many. Questions.
In honor of the interview, I’ve scheduled a hair appointment for tomorrow afternoon. My color will be all fresh and vibrant for the event. My husband has agreed to take my son and our dogs to his mom’s house so there won’t be any distractions. (He’s the best). My chest is a bit floaty with a combination of nervousness and excitement. I want to be a good interviewer. What I want with a desperation that is embarrassing, is for Casey and I to become friends. I want them to follow me on Instagram and comment now and again. It’s a bit nuts.
Right now, I have no idea how tomorrow will go. Will I be able to balance the interview questions already prepared with whatever comes in during the event? Will I forget that Casey goes by they/their? Will I say something idiotic? Will I talk to much? Will I rush them so I can get to more questions? I can be chill, but I can also be exuberant, and there is little doubt which Hollie is going to show up tomorrow.
I thought it would be fun to sort of journal about the “before” and then journal about the after to see how the event stacked up to how I envisioned it.
So, what do I envision?
Exuberant Hollie, as mentioned above. I’ve watched a few Casey interviews, and they are a good guest. But, I’m a bit nervous of going “off-script” since I had to submit the questions in advance. I don’t want to just read a list of questions, but have a conversation with questions peppered inside, ask whatever I want for maybe twenty minutes, then I plan to switch to the list of questions (already submitted first followed by those present). I know for a fact that we will never get through all the questions. I suspect that I will feel a sort of loss at never knowing what I had the potential to learn.
After tomorrow night, we’ll see how clairvoyant I am!
It’s now Friday, January 20, and the interview is over. I am not clairvoyant.
So, how did it go? Great! Casey McQuiston was funny, generous, kind, open, and very entertaining.
Exuberant Hollie did indeed show up, but I felt as if I didn’t rush them or move things too quickly. Frankly, I was so interested in what Casey shared that the entire conversation was easy. And though I’d pared down beforehand, I did get to all my questions!
My favorite part of the evening, though, was the fifteen-ish minutes before we officially started when I got to speak with them, just the two of us. I fangirled for a bit, because I wanted them to know but didn’t want to waste public minutes on it. The conversation was friendly, and I was completely charmed, and it relaxed me for the interview. I knew it would go well.
About an hour before we started, I looked over the questions again and printed them using a BIG font so I could read it easily from a distance. I also arranged them into three categories and had a rough idea of where I wanted to start. It worked out, so that was nice. I jumped around (as I am wont to do), but managed to hit all the pre-submitted questions and all of my own (from my whittled down list)!
Casey’s responses were so fascinating (example: their character work before they write the novel – there’s a lot and they held up one of their notebooks). I always enjoy talking about writing craft, and it’s even better to talk to someone not just successful (their first book enabled them to buy their first house!), but someone I admire greatly. We were their first event since mid-November, which might have contributed to their great energy and the fun we had.
I ended up asking the last question and their answering with one minute to spare. No questions from the live audience, which surprised me. So, the timing was pretty much perfect. One day, I hope I can meet Casey McQuiston in person, but this was the next best thing. And it was awfully awesome.
Even if we aren’t now, technically, friends.