The 7am Novelist
The 7am Novelist
Day 21: Shalene Gupta & E.B. Bartels on How to Conduct Interviews & Blend Personal Stories with your Research

Day 21: Shalene Gupta & E.B. Bartels on How to Conduct Interviews & Blend Personal Stories with your Research

The March March Writing Challenge

Interview best practices, how to get yourself geared up for an interview in the first place, how to pace them with your writing, and how to blend what you learn with your own stories and experience. Our experts Shalene Gupta and E.B. Bartels give us their best tips.

For a list of my fave craft books and the most recent works by our guests, go to our Bookshop page.

E.B.’s quick tips!

This piece was just published in Narratively which is super helpful!


• Don’t ask yes/no questions or questions with short/specific answers

• Don’t ask questions with Google-able answers

• Do ask more open-ended feelings/memories/experiences questions

• Do ask questions that you can only get that information from them

• One of my favorite questions to ask: what is the most challenging / most rewarding part of what you do?

• Most important question to ask: who should I talk to next? (Like what Shalene just said about finding the Reddit excerpt!)

E.B. Bartels is a nonfiction writer, a former Newtonville Books bookseller, and a GrubStreet instructor, with an MFA from Columbia University. She is the author of Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter, a narrative nonfiction book about loving and losing animals, and her essays and interviews have appeared in SalonSlateWBURLiterary HubCatapultElectric LiteratureThe Believer, and The Rumpus, among others. E.B. lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Richie, and their many, many pets.

Shalene Gupta has a Master’s from Columbia Journalism School. In the past she was a reporter for Fortune where she wrote about the intersection of diversity and tech. Her work has appeared in Harvard Business Review, ESPN-W, and Kirkus Reviews, among others. Before working as a reporter, she taught English in Malaysia on a Fulbright scholarship and wrote a book documenting the history of the Malaysian Fulbright program. She’s co-authored the Power of Trust (Public Affairs) with HBS professor Sandra Sucher and is currently working on a book on PMDD/severe PMS (Flatiron ’24), and her YA novel from the Novel Incubator program. 

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The 7am Novelist
The 7am Novelist
Join award-winning novelist and writing coach Michelle Hoover and special guests for your morning writing wake up call, starting with a 50-day writing challenge.