Interview question suggestions for John IrvingHello everyone. As I just finished A Prayer For Owen Meany it is around time in my research paper that I start contacting John Irving for an interview....

Interview question suggestions for John Irving

Hello everyone. As I just finished A Prayer For Owen Meany it is around time in my research paper that I start contacting John Irving for an interview. Before I contact him, I'd like some suggestions about interview questions, which both could be about the book and the author. The questions shouldn't be simple questions that could be googled (obviously), and the questions I'm looking at so far:

What inspired you to write A Prayer For Owen Meany?

How did you find your passion for writing?

Which of your characters is most/least like you, and in what way(s)?

Do you believe in God or is it just the charactors who do? (Not sure, need advice on this one?)

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Are the names of your characters important? If so, how did you name them?


NOTE: I must choose an obvious, best question TOP 10 QUESTIONS to ask. Obviously Mr. Irving wouldn't want to write a book over email or speak to me for hours over the phone. If you have some great suggestions, please, I implore you to suggest away. Thanks!

Expert Answers
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are a few more question suggestions for you.

1. What influence does Charles Dickens have on you and your writing?

2. Given that your character has links to the Mayflower, have you researched your own family and found the inspiration for the link?

3. Have the movie productions of your novels depicted your texts in the ways that you imagined, or have you ever been disappointed with any of them? Why/Why not?

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would ask if the political talk of the novel reflects his own personal political views then and/or now. My current students find the political rants to be a distraction from the novel seeing that they know little to nothing about the events and circumstances Irving is referring to. They claim it dates the book a bit. You could ask him about how he feels about modern audiences and their reactions to that aspect of the novel.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Following the line suggested in posts 5 and 6, if Irving or another author were to write this basic storyline today, what would be the "crisis in the background"? If the Vietnam War impact on the story dates it, what does he feel would be an equivalent influence in current events? (As a teacher, I'd be interested in asking the related question, what would you suggest as an alternative to Vietnam?)

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think #4 makes a number of excellent suggestions for you to think about. One of the interesting things for an author must be to look back and to consider what others have written about his works and made of them. Which interpretations have shocked, amused or pleased him?

I would also want to ask if he feels that this novel and the themes within it are still relevant in today's world or not.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You might ask him if he finds any particular interpretations of the novel either very persuasive or very unpersuasive. You might ask him if he pays much attention to the interpretations his books receive. You might also ask him whether his main purpose in writing is to express ideas, to write memorable and powerful prose, or some combination of both.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
My main question would be if he knew how the story would end when he began it. I have always been fascinated with the question of whether stories are carefully planned out or develop organically. Basically, I would ask him where his inspiration or idea came from.
manipulation | Student

Thank you everyone! These are all very good suggestions. I have yet to email him but I am sending it out today. If he replies on the first email, I still likely have around a week to think the questions through.


Keep 'em coming!

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