What follows comprises two unrelated anecdotes about interviews that you should under no circumstances interpret as being about the same interview. Because they’re not. They’re not, they’re not, they’re not.
I write this first section as a combination of reminder and penance. (And, really, since when is the pain of penance not a good way to remind yourself to avoid the sin in the future?) Whenever I let a few months go by between big interviews — and by big interview I mean the sort of one-on-one that will constitute the vast majority of a subsequent article, as opposed to the interviews with different people that gradually assemble, Lego-style, into a single piece of text — I tend to forget that my best interviews are conversational in tone, with the person I’m talking to saying something and me responding with a follow-up question tailored to the preceding statement. These make for better quotes and overall a more comfortable experience — for me for the interviewee, and for the reader too, I’ll bet — than do the articles that result from the awkward interviews in which I work from a list of pre-written questions and consequently force the interviewee through a hedge maze rather than allowing them to wander about the garden as he or she pleases.
This second section — which, again, should not be interpreted as having anything to do with the foundation laid down in the previous paragraph — is about my disappointment with my sputtering, stuttering behavior during an interview with a certain singer-songwriter whose work I’ve enjoyed since early high school. He, of course, was a delight. Despite my failings, the quotes he provided will provide a sturdy framework on which I can build a good article. One small plus: I received an explanation for the subject of this post. The answer: Less some great Hardy Boys adventure, more a mix-and-match phone book jaunt in an effort to formulate catchy names for a piece of fiction. Rather than be disappointed that Adolpha Zantziger is not some long-forgotten muse to a whole generations’ worth of art or some furtively generous billionaire philanthropist recluse, I’m slightly happy that she turned out to be something close to the fictional story I created for her in my head.