Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wild and Wacky Interviews (Part 3)

I had just left the magical swiveling chair where my hair and make-up were overhauled in preparation for my appearance on an Orlando Christian TV network. 

Funny how you arrive at those places looking like you and leave looking like a country western singer.

As I took a chair in the waiting room to bide my time until the producer called me to the set for my interview, I noticed a 20-something man seated against the wall with a rather large rectangular case at his feet. He must be waiting his turn for an interview as well.

Hmm. Didn’t look like a trombone case. Could it be a tuba?

“What instrument do you play?” I asked, ever curious and always up for a good musical conversation.  

His sly grin should have warned me of the big surprise to come. “It’s not an instrument. And I don’t play him … he plays me.”

“Um, excuse me?”

At that moment, I noticed the sides of the black case move. Move. As in … move.

“Is there a puppy in there?” The words were no sooner out of my mouth than the whole case jumped about an inch off the floor, shimmied and contorted. Whoa! That was no puppy. Unless it was a hippo puppy.  

“Not exactly,” the man with the look of a mischievous 10-year-old replied. “Would you like to see?”

“Well, sure.” I was never one to turn down an adventure.

So that’s how I – all gussied up in my best suit, stage make-up, and poufy hair - came to make friends with a four-foot alligator named Ralph in the waiting room of a TV studio. Ralph was just one of the critters this gentleman used in his ministry to introduce school children to some of God’s more mysterious yet magnificent creations.  

At least he’d left the tarantula at home.  

“What would happen if you took that duct tape off his snout?” I ventured to ask.
“You’d be driving home with one sleeve pinned up,” he said with a lopsided grin.

Ah, yes – adventures. Just one of the fun perks authors have to look forward to when making the rounds of interviews after a book release.  Every author I know has a handful of hair-raising and often hilarious stories about book promo. What's yours?    

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wild and Wacky Interviews (Part 2)

Monkeys Hair 

The live interview had not been going all that well. I was discussing my new book (at the time), Too Blessed to be Stressed, with a Pennsylvania Christian radio host whom I'll call Dale. 

I was a bit surprised to have a male interviewing me for my clearly delineated "women's inspirational book," but that happens from time to time, and I've truly had some quite excellent male interviewers mixed in with the clueless. 

As it turns out, Dale was of the latter category.

By the reluctance in his voice, hesitant questions, and silent responses as I threw out my normal women-oriented humor, I could tell he wasn't in his confidence zone. We weren't connecting. The magical rapport between host and guest that makes for the best interviews just wasn't there.

It was obvious to me that Dale hadn't even read my book, but was working his way through the Table of Contents using the chapter titles and associated topics (which were listed in parentheses) to formulate seat-of-the-pants questions.

The coup de grace came during the final five minutes of the 15-minute interview. As Dale slogged his way through the TOC to the last section, he came upon chapter 32, "Luther's Legacy." I could hear the sunrise in his attitude and relief in his voice. At last, he was thinking, Something I can sink my teeth into.

"I see, Debora, that you've got a chapter here on 'Luther's Legacy,'" Dale observed almost gleefully. "I've done extensive study on the works of Martin Luther. Why don't you tell us about Luther's legacy as it applies to handling the stress in our lives."

There was nothing to be done but to break it to him as gently as possible. On the air. In front of thousands of his regular listeners.

"Um, Dale. I'm sure Martin Luther had a lot of wonderful things to say that would be applicable to the topic of stress, but this particular chapter is about a monkey. A monkey named Luther." 

It shouldn't have come as a surprise that when I later asked the station for a copy of the interview that they'd assured me would be taped, somehow the the recording machinery had developed a glitch and the interview was lost.

Go figure.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wild and Wacky Interviews (part 1)

Deb in London
Someone suggested, as I recently finished regaling a writerly audience with a couple of zany stories about my book interview misadventures, that I jot them down for posterity's sake. And a little literary entertainment.

A fine idea indeed.

So here we go with the first of three abridged versions of some of the stark craziness that goes on behind the scenes of  TV and radio interviews of, yes, even your favorite seemingly well-put-together and unflappable authors.

(Which is why, I presume, some authors flatly refuse to do interviews.)

My publicist arranged an interview with a very popular radio show host on a date when I was scheduled to be traveling with my husband. After unsuccessfully attempting to reschedule, I was forced to do the live interview by cell phone from the back seat of a moving vehicle -certainly no one's first choice, but in this case, it couldn't be helped.

In preparation, I packed the "cheat sheets" for my newest book, More Beauty, Less Beast (meaning the pages containing catch phrases and lucid discussion points I plan to use on the air so not to look like a scatter-brained ninny-muffin). Cheat sheets work famously for radio interviews, but not so well for TV, where you look ridiculous staring at notes scribbled on your hand or taped to your shoe.

Believe me, I know.

So on this ill-fated day, the radio host and I connected just as my husband turned the car onto a congested interstate. I had already done dozens of interviews about More Beauty, Less Beast since it's release a few months before, but going on-air still made me nervous. Especially live, where you can't edit or gracefully cover up mistakes.

I listened intently to the host's introduction with my key point-tabbed copy of More Beauty, Less Beast in hand and all my cheat sheets spread out across the car seat for easy reference. I was as ready as I'd ever be.

"Welcome, everyone, to our show today, " the host announced in her official radio voice. "We're so fortunate to have award-winning author Debora Coty here to speak about her book, Too Blessed to be Stressed."

Aack! What? Back the truck up! My mind flew in all directions at once, like frizzy hair in a gale. Did she say, Too Blessed to be Stressed? But I'm all prepared to discuss More Beauty, Less Beast!

Not only was that the wrong book, but I'd written two books since that one and had no idea what was in which. And I hadn't brought copies of anything but More Beauty, Less Beast with me!

I began frantically gesturing into the rear view mirror for poor long-suffering Spouse to pull over, which took several minutes for him to: a) catch on, b) stop asking if I was having a heart attack and if he should call 911, and c) jockey to the outside lane on the busy highway. Before the wheels even rolled to a stop, I flew to the trunk and began heaving luggage onto the shoulder of the road as cars whizzed by at 80 mph, all the while trying to keep a pleasant conversation going with the radio host as if all were well with the world.

Thankfully, I finally found a copy of Too Blessed to be Stressed beside the spare tire and by flipping pages wildly, was able to (sort of) present some semblance of an intelligent discussion for the next 30 minutes as slack-jawed, head-shaking Spouse reloaded the car and we tooled on down the highway.   

Stay tuned for my next Wild and Wacky Interview post.