Friday, October 17, 2014

Guest Post: Interviews by Judee Fong

I love doing interviews. When I’m assigned a person, I do my usual Google search and do as much background as I can, figure out a list of questions and off I go. Some interviews are fabulous. I hardly have to look at my list of questions because the interviewee has so much to say and has given lots of anecdotes. These are my favourite interviews because the article practically writes itself. Then, there’s the flip-side. Answering questions is like picking blackberries from a very dense, prickly bush—it’s done slowly and carefully. All this caution came from an abstract artist, not at all talkative and whose artistic endeavours are colourful, murky and filled with symbolism.

The artist waits for my comments on his art. Ignoring my lunch-time hunger pangs, I look at one of his paintings, which looks like a dark puddle of something brown. I stare at it again. “Wow,’ I say to him. “What do you call that?” He answers succinctly, “Mud.” I reply, “That’s very powerful.” And, praying that a bolt of lightning doesn’t strike me dead—blame my hunger pangs, I add, “It  looks like silky, sexy chocolate—dark, smooth and flowing.” Mesmerized, he stares at the canvas and slowly smiles. “My wife had given me some chocolates but it melted in the heat. I had “brain-block” so I just painted what I saw. Maybe I should change the title back to “Chocolate.” Relaxed, he began to talk about a few other abstracts in his studio—all with some little tidbit behind each canvas. For an interview that started slowly, it was filled with anecdotes and a fascinating insight of the artist, himself.

My interviews have been conducted in many places. Artists, writers and potters often have studios attached to their homes. I have “Offices”—actually coffee bars--scattered strategically about the city. I still use a real microphone attached to a book-size recorder that runs on 4-C batteries and regular recording tapes. My old-fashion equipment often elicits fond smiles and amusement. For some strange reason, people feel more relaxed seeing the actual microphone on the table rather than something the size of a matchbox with a hidden microphone inside. I’ve carried my recorder in my backpack and held the microphone while I trudged behind the Head Groundskeeper at Royal Road’s Hatley Gardens. I’ve carried out interviews on a Search and Rescue vessel; over a Sidney fish-n-chips lunch at “Fish at Fifth;” at a Symphony rehearsal, at the local CHEK TV station, at a horse farm and my all-time favourite, at Victoria’s famous Rogers Chocolates factory.
I love doing interviews because we are an incredible human race made up of so many entertaining and fascinating people who all have stories to tell. The challenge is to condense my 4000 word interviews into 800-1000 words!

Judee Fong’s Bio:

I am one of the freelance writers for Senior Living Magazine, aimed for 50+ active people and
 younger. I enjoy meeting new faces and subjects who have taught me a lot about art, music 
and writing. I have been assigned topics I knew nothing about and came away learning 
something new. I am a member of “Crime Writers of Canada” as I enjoy reading well-crafted 
mysteries/thrillers/adventures/historicals and try to write what I like to read. I am in the process 
of writing a historical YA mystery as well as several short stories.  In between writing my stories,
 I blog on and also on