This woman—that means me—has interviewed well over a thousand people in my career as a journalist. I loved almost every minute of it because people, in general, are giving, caring and interesting…especially if they agree to be interviewed about something that is a huge part of their lives.
Some people talked about their families—the ones with a parent with Alzheimer’s, a child with cancer, a degenerative condition, like kidney failure where one’s life is run by dialysis treatment.
These people all talked to me. They didn’t need prompting; they just told me their stories. And I listened and cared. The articles were published in the New York Times and readers responded with empathy and understanding. The people I interviewed were recognized as the heroes they really are. And I was happy to be a part of it.
It was a very good thing.
Now, for the first time since I began my career in communications, I have become an interviewee. The reason? My debut novel, "I Know You by Heart" has been published and I’m letting the public know about it.
I cannot say that I have the same need to express myself to a journalist, as most of the people who spoke to me, since I’m no hero; I’m just an author.
So my first interview as an author made me question the need for an interview. After all, I’m not famous and certainly not the only one in my region to publish a book. What finally made sense to me was that in order for people to benefit from my book’s theme, thet had to read about the book first.
So to go back to the beginning, I must say that I am shy. This is why I succeeded as a journalist. I loved to listen to others and tell their stories. I used to love to sit in the back of a classroom and absorb all a teacher or other classmates had to say. Now the tables are turned; I’m expected to talk. I need to talk to journalists, readers, professionals and anyone else who chooses to listen while I tell the tale of my book, my background and why the book was written in the first place.
Then, I must sign the books, tell the buyers how grateful I am that they turned out to listen. buy the book and care about it at all. It’s all new to me and I cannot say I’m loving it…yet.
So what does one wear to their first interview…all about me? Does it matter? Since it took place in the agreed upon local café in my town, on a bright winter morning, where snow and slush were melting on the sidewalks and streets, I decided to wear nice jeans, a decorative long sleeved tee shirt and Uggs boots. And what about jewelry? Earrings to match my rings, no necklace or bangles; nothing to detract from what I wanted to say. Was this egotism directing me, or confusion and fear of what I might divulge, that shouldn’t be said?
It was fear.
But what did I have to fear? I was about to describe the plot of my first fiction and how it was written. I was not talking about me… or was I? Everyone knows that one’s first fiction is always autobiographical, to some extent. In my case, it was a mix of what I learned from others, what I experienced with my family and what I endured by myself. All loaded information.
I thought about this as I entered the café at the very same time as the journalist and we picked a table in the corner to chat. One look at her allowed me to relax. She was young, interested in what she was doing and happy to spend this time with me. What a stroke of luck for me.
The questions she asked I was prepared to answer. I never expected to be so comfortable. After all, I’m not used to talking about me. I write. Within forty minutes, she had all the information she needed to cover the story, and I was happy with what she decided was necessary information. After all, she isn’t an investigative reporter and I haven’t committed a crime.
A week later, the article came out. The picture taken on that day was lovely, the article so real and the response from the local public,enthusiastic. Did those I wrote about, in fiction, feel as good as I did when they saw their stories appear in print? I only hope so.
All I know now is that I’m no longer afraid to talk to journalists, to book groups, buyers, sellers, or anyone. One interview with a young, savvy reporter made my day and moved my career along another notch. Now when I think about the marathon that faces me as I sell this book, I smile like a Cheshire cat.
And that’s a very good thing.