When you give/attend a reading, what questions do you want to ask the writer? What questions do you actually ask the writer? What are the questions that make you wince?
A few years ago, I went with a friend to see Michael Chabon read in Cambridge. (My friend’s suggestions, not mine, and he’d gone through the trouble of getting us tickets.) After Chabon’s reading, people lined up to ask questions. One woman, who’d been standing in line for a solid 15 minutes or more, got up to the mic, cleared her throat, and asked, “You wrote a book that took place in Pittsburgh. Are you ever going to set a book in Pittsburgh again?”
The question was innocent enough. Sure, let’s give her credit, maybe she’s from Pittsburgh. Whatever. But to stand in line to ask that kind of question, well, yeah. Whatever. I don’t remember exactly how Chabon responded, but I’d say he handled it well enough. I guess the boy’s got practice dealing with questions like that.
I gave a reading in Houston last year. I’d read an excerpt from Changing, then a portion of my Choose Your Own Adventure manuscript. (The part I read from focused heavily on cats performing surgeries, then crawling into a woman’s body to function as organs.) This very nice professor guy raised his hand and asked if I considered myself a “sentimentalist.” Unlike Chabon, I didn’t answer the question well. In fact, I was totally confused. I think I said something along the lines of: I appreciate sentiment, though I wouldn’t call myself sentimental or a sentimentalist, whatever that means. (He proceeded to continue asking questions about “sentimentality” & fiction today!)
In light of these two examples, what kind of questions do you like or dislike, dread or desire?