As an extreme introvert, who also happens to be afflicted with severe shyness, these interviews have been both an interesting and challenging process for me.
Going into this, there were a few things I was not expecting
1. The amount of time it would take
I thought this was going to be a simple case of a few emails, setting up a time and place to meet, having the interview and that would be that. Boy, was I wrong. So many people didn't want to be interviewed face to face (which turned into a whole other issue), they weren't even keen on a phone call. Those who were, turned out to be busy busy people, and because they were doing me a favour, I had to run around, rearranging my life at a moment's notice, just to squeeze in an interview. (If any of these amazing individuals are reading this, please know that you have my undying gratitude, particularly if I pass this course, because it was probably all because of you...)
2. The value of actually speaking to people
For the three lovely ladies that actually wanted to speak to me in person, the interviews were really insightful. I thought, after looking at my questions, that every single one of my interviewees were going to look at me funny and ask if I was alright. But, they answered each question like stars, and even gave me really useful feedback (hence they undying love and gratitude).
Those who I email interviewed (because honestly, who actually wants to take an hour out of their day to be interviewed by a potentially annoying, twenty-something graduate about a project that they may or may not even have any knowledge of), had much shorter to the point answers. A colourful answer, packed with nuances and personality from the face to face interviews turned into a two word answer, that, though put them into one category or another, didn't actually offer much.
But again, these people are doing me a favour, so I'll take what I can get.
3. How much I hate interviews
Though I honestly found this whole experience really helpful in terms of the project, and really interesting in terms of life experiences, it isn't necessarily something I would volunteer for again (not that I really volunteered for it this time). I just think that in general, interviewing people like this, and getting them to open up and share information with you, is not something that is really in my personality or skill set. I'm not saying that I'm terrible at it (though the outcome of this project might), but I'm saying that it's something I don't really enjoy, and I know for a fact that there are people out there that are much better at it than me. Even my competitiveness can accept that.
That said, here are some things that came out of these interviews, that were really interesting:
Coming from a background of bedtime stories, and having the 'avid reader' thing down pat at the tender age of as-soon-as-I-could-read, books and reading were always such an intrinsic and important part of my childhood, that it always surprises me when I learn that they weren't necessarily a part of other people's childhoods.
The great thing about South Africa, is that though books weren't in everyone's lives, stories were. Whether in the form of verbal tales, radio classics or even movie extravaganzas, stretching our imagination muscles seems to be a part of life wherever you go.
How important feelings are
It doesn't matter who I spoke to, age, gender, race, background all went out the window when it came to why people love reading. It's all because of the feelings!
If reading was a positive experience, filled with love fun and imagination, BAM, you love reading.
If reading was difficult, slow, boring or forced, BAM, reading isn't for you.
And I've never thought about it in this way, but it totally made sense. Reading was (and still is) one of my favourite things to do. The worlds, the places, the people are all so fascinating and special to me that anything else doesn't even come close to topping it. But looking back, my parents were always keen on me reading. We always had loads of books in the house, and we always had someone willing to read them to me (even though, unfortunately for them, I happened be an impatient reader, and always got grumpy when they read too slowly...) Other people simply have different childhoods, perhaps filled with playing outside, and being told stories because no one could read to them.
Pictures are important
Don't let anyone tell you that they aren't. Kids are really fussy creatures, and they aren't afraid to let you know when they don't like something. So good pictures in a picture book are important. They need to be interesting and engaging, otherwise, how are you going to convince a kid, who is new to the idea of books, to actually like them?
Money, money, money makes the world go round
If anyone catches the reference there, I am going to die of joy.
But after all of these interviews, the thing that kept coming back up was money. Projects like the wordless picture book project, need money to work, which is unfortunate, because most projects like this, don't generally have a generous sum, just lying about waiting to be used.
So, say tuned, if you are at all interested in watching (or reading, I guess) me flail about trying to solve these problems and coming up with a vaguely decent design solution.
Who knows, I might surprise us both, and really pull something out of the hat for this one 😉
Talk soon xx