Deborah Kalb is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger. She spent about two decades working as a journalist in Washington, D.C., for news organizations including Gannett News Service, Congressional Quarterly, U.S. News & World Report, and The Hill, mostly covering Congress and politics. She is the co-author, with her father, Marvin Kalb, of Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama (Brookings, 2011), and she’s also the co-author or co-editor of two books published by CQ Press (The Presidents, First Ladies, and Vice Presidents; and State of the Union: Presidential Rhetoric from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush). She started her blog, Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb (found at deborahkalbbooks.blogspot.com), in October 2012, and has interviewed hundreds of authors—including Carol Matas!—about their books.
Here are some questions I ask Deborah- and her answers!
Q: How do you choose your authors?
A: I look through lists of upcoming books, I read book reviews, I ask friends if they know of anyone with a book coming out soon, and I keep an eye out in general for authors and books that seem interesting. Also, authors and their publicists often get in touch with me to ask if I’d like to interview them/their author. It’s a real pleasure to learn about so many great books before they’re published!
Q: How do you manage to find the time to read all the books?
A: I’ve always been a really fast reader, so that helps! The books I focus on are ones I tend to want to read anyway. When I was a journalist covering politics and Congress, one of my favorite things to do when I wasn’t running around Capitol Hill on deadline was to head over to the “free book table” in the newsroom to check out the review copies and pick some to review. Now, it’s as if I have the free book table appearing at my doorstep, which is wonderful for a lifelong lover of books!
Q: Do you have a favourite genre?
A: No, not really. The blog can definitely be described as “eclectic.” It includes fiction, mystery, children’s books, memoirs, biography, politics, history, science, sports, music, and more.
Q: How do you choose your questions?
A: That’s a good question! I come up with ideas as I become more familiar with the book and the author. For fiction, I like to ask the author about how they developed their characters and plot. For nonfiction, I like to find out more about how they chose their subject and what they learned from their research. But that’s just the beginning—often, if it’s a phone interview, the conversation will go in directions I hadn’t planned, and that’s always fascinating!
Q: Is there anything you would like to tell us about blogging and about your blog in particular?
A: I worked as a print journalist for almost 20 years, and now am a freelance writer and editor as well as a blogger. I guess I’m part of the large cohort of middle-aged journalists who have seen our profession change and are trying to reinvent ourselves by using our journalism skills in related areas. My blog is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done professionally—I’ve read so many incredible books and met so many amazing people since starting the blog two-plus years ago!