I don’t often comment much about the venerable magazine for which I work, and I certainly don’t respond to criticism etc, but I was struck by something I read over on Rick Kleffel’s The Agony Column. Referring to the latest issue of Locus, where Terry Pratchett and Liz Williams are interviewed, Kleffel writes:
…it’s a misnomer to say that these are interviews, really. They’re not conversations with a critic or reader. They’re actually just long essays by the authors themselves on Stuff They Want To Write About…
While this isn’t a criticism per se, it’s also not really accurate at all. I’ve conducted three or four interviews for Locus (Charles Stross, Robert Silverberg, Sean Williams), sat in a bunch, and have seen the raw transcripts of many others.
Ignoring my own efforts, Locus’s interviews are deftly handled conversations between a Locus interviewer (almost always Charles Brown, but in recent years often Jenni Hall) and the interviewee, and they very clearly do include back and forth between the two parties. They are genuine interviews.
The key here is that Locus has decided to keep the focus on the author, to highlight their views, their perceptions, and to try to understand what they are trying to achieve, rather that trying to highlight anything the interviewer themselves may think. For that reason, the interviewer’s comments are removed, and the interview is edited into a seamless whole. It’s something that I think works remarkably well, and has proven very successful over the years.
Why respond here to this particular comment? Well, Kleffel clearly is positive about Locus and means well, but it seemed to me at least that his comments didn’t justice to what Locus was achieving.