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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Big Interviews

A while back, I asked you to send in questions for me to answer. I've received a few but we need lots more, so keep the questions coming. In the meantime, here’s one I’ve received:

 Q: Who are some of the well-known people you’ve interviewed? Who would you like to interview? Which historical figures do you wish you could have interviewed?

A: Oh gosh. There’ve been so many. The ones that come to mind are Vincent Price – I spent an entire day with him, an absolutely lovely man and fascinating on so many levels; Zsa Zsa Gabor – we had lunch and she actually called me “dahling”; Valerie Harper – a very down-to-earth woman; Martin Mull; Steve Cauthen – the youngest jockey to win the Triple Crown; Gene Roddenberry; Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz; fantasy authors L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter; science fiction writers Leigh Brackett, Jack Williamson, R.A. Lafferty, and Alan Dean Foster; a lot of the Carter White House staff like Midge Constanza. Senators and governors… A lot of politicians. One of my prized possessions is a photo I took of Jimmy Carter when I was covering his campaign that I had him autograph years later.

As for whom I’d like to interview, that’s probably an ever-changing list but I look for people who based on their life experience have an interesting story to tell or a different perspective from which to tell it. A key factor would be whether I could ask that interviewee questions no one else would be able to answer. Questions you simply couldn’t pose to anyone else but that these individuals were uniquely suited to answer. I think Monica Lewinsky would give a fascinating interview. I’d love to interview Edward Snowden, who has become our century’s “Man without a Country”. I’ve written about the remarkable Malala Yousafzai but she is also incredibly articulate and intelligent and I think she still has quite a bit to say to the world. Pope Francis would be wonderful to interview; he strikes me as a man straddling two worlds, with one foot in each. I have tremendous admiration, and am often in awe of, Richard Engel – his incredible knowledge of the various Middle East cultures is matched only by his unbelievable courage. He not only has an outsider’s unique yet informed perspective of that region but I’m certain many captivating stories to match. In a similar vein, Ross Kemp has voluntarily thrust himself into incredibly dangerous situations and seen things most of us would have nightmares about for years to come, so he would be at the top of my list as well. As a writer, I would like to interview Harlan Ellison, whose work and personage I have admired for a long time. Although I’ve met Harlan, we never discussed the craft of writing and that’s a discussion I would enjoy having.

Revving up the time machine, who would I interview? Bobby Kennedy; Abraham Lincoln; John F. Kennedy; Benjamin Franklin; Albert Einstein; Lee Harvey Oswald; Jack Ruby; William Shakespeare; Charles Dickens; Leonardo da Vinci; Julius Caesar; Augustus; Claudius; Epicurus. Perhaps a roundtable discussion with Lady Jane Grey, Mary Queen of Scots, Joan of Arc, and Anne Frank. Finally, I think I’d like to interview my younger self about the kind of man he thought he would grow up to be and see how far from that mark I may have strayed. 

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