Stagefright? Who, me?

Don’t worry about this book, my editor told me, and my agent confirmed it. We don’t expect huge sales with this one. It’s the Trade Paperback; it’s to show the media that we take it seriously and that we hope to get reviews. The real thing is next year – 2000 – with the publication of the Mass Market paperback. THEN the race would start. Relax, and enjoy it, they told me.
“It,” being Promotion – the thing I dreaded most. I would have been happiest with print interviews and reviews – what made me nervous was facing the public.
I’m not a speaker. I hate the sound of my own voice. As a child I had a phase when I simply would not speak in front of strangers. In school I was the one child who never spoke up in class. I don’t mind not saying a word during a conversation (that’s why I prefer a third person present!), but only listening. It was the written word I loved, through which I could best express myself, and I wanted to keep it that way.
Being a listener made me a great journalist in my time – years ago – but in a world where people are often judged according to what they say out loud this wasn’t exactly an advantage.
They had lined up one interview for the print media; everything else was radio, plus one TV interview.
I survived the radio interviews; speaking into a microphone with my human interviewer not even visible was a surrealist experience, but I’ve been through worse.
Then came the dreaded TV interview. It was to be on Sky Bookshop, a programme on which a couple of new authors are nterviewed for a few minutes. Nothing big. But I was terrified.
The other two authors were Jake Arnett, whose first novel The Long Firm had just been published. Jake had a great career before him, but we didn’t know that yet. I met Jake just before his interview and we exchanged a few words. I admired his suave, relaxed confidence and had an inkling of his future right there and then.; this was a guy made for the media – a guy the cameras would love.
The other author on the show was was Chastity, Cher’s daughter, with a book about coming out as a lesbian. I never got to see her – we were whooshed in and out of the studio with little time for socialising – but I did get to see her interview on video later. Maybe Cher watched that video? Saw me?
It’s never as bad as you think it is. It was over in a nanosecond. I got to say a few things I wanted to, and the interviewer had actually read the book and liked it – which couldn’t be said for my radio interviewers. I had survived!
It was back to Germany to wait for the Mass Market edition – and get on with my next novel.


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