I was on the radio because one of my stories was in a book called, 'FLASHPOINT' which had just been published by Third Person Press. I’m grateful that they published my story and also grateful for what they’ve taught me about short story writing.
There are also no fingers on my hand pointed at the interviewer. “She” was professional and kind. (I think I just gave you another clue.)
This anthology of speculative fiction short stories can be bought in some bookstores and can also be purchased from the Third Person Press website. So, before I go any further, I suggest you drop everything you’re doing, and buy the book. Chop, chop.
Here's their website: http://www.thirdpersonpress.com/ (There's a lot of interesting stuff on their site, by the way.)
Anyway, apparently there are some things that interviewers find difficult when they are interviewing. For example, they don’t like interviewees who give too long or too complicated a response, who are boring, who leave their sense of humour somewhere else - those sorts of things. Well, I have to say that humour is not something I can leave anywhere. My problem is trying not to be funny or crazy when answering questions.
Now, I have never loved my voice because I know what the little bugger can do. My tongue, especially if I’m nervous or have exercised hard, has the ability to dump a bucket of hot peppers over my yapper box. On the other hand, the author who was being interviewed with me, had a voice that seemed immune to cracking and squeaking. So I felt a bit intimidated by the contrast. Oh, if I could only sound like Gregory Peck.
Here's another point about my earlier on-line interview session. One of the questions I was asked at that interview was, “What books have been important to you in your life?”
I could have mentioned Grisham, George Elliot, Hemingway, Tolstoy, Larry Brown, Stephen King, or a whole slew of authors. At least some author that would make me look or sound a teeny bit suave, cool, professional and literate. But no friggen way. Nope, and believe you me, I did hear my brain shouting, fairly loudly, “Don’t say it, moron.”
But all to no avail as I said, “Walter Brookes and his wonderful ‘Freddy the Pig’ books: ‘Freddy Goes to Florida’, ‘Freddy the Detective’, ‘Freddy the Cowboy’, ‘Freddy and the Ignoramus’, and on and on. " Not anything wrong with the books, but couldn’t I have dug a little bit deeper? Apparently not.
Then, look out. The CBC questioner asked, “You write speculative fiction, so you must read a lot of it. What books do you read?”
Oh, duh! Come on, Larry. Get a grip. My brain was shouting, “Moron, moron!”, even before I answered the question, and for Pete’s sake I knew damn well that one of the main purposes of the book launch and for us authors being interviewed was to sell speculative fiction and ‘Flashpoint’ in particular. But what did I say in response to her question? I said, “No, I don’t read much speculative fiction.”
You think the interviewer looked surprised when I made a pass at the mic? Nothing compared to her reaction to that answer. After this faux pas, I bungled around a bit and said I was trying to catch up on the classics and I was even able to name a few authors.
But you see, I don’t try hard to make my stories speculative fiction. Because my life is so damn speculative, that to be accurate I should say that some of my stories should probably be considered non-fiction. However, I didn’t think to mention that. It might have added some balance.
James Thurber wrote: “My opposition to interviews lies in the fact that offhand answers have little value or grace of expression, and that such oral give-and-take helps to perpetuate the decline of the English language.”
Also, maybe subconsciously, I mentioned the classics to the interviewer because I didn’t want all the on-line listeners from my summer interview to think the greatest books in my past were ‘Freddy the Pig’ books. Which, by the way, really were a great read, particularly behind my grade five math book.
His name is Buster and he acts like a Buster. One of his first tasks, after arriving at our little trailer, was to force us to flip the mattress. Which, we then discovered, has only one official lie-on-it side, so we had to flip it back and put the wet end at the far corner, along with a change of sheets. We love Buster.
And it totally escaped my mind that I was also working my way through ‘Black Water’, a terribly thick anthology of magic realism short stories.
Oscar Wilde wrote, “Questions are never indiscreet. Answers sometimes are.”
So, this blog is, in a way, a bit of an apology for not doing a better job of promoting the book, ‘FLASHPOINT’.
However, possibly on the positive side, I suspect that I have some kind of safety valve in my brain and mouth, which will not allow me to be a cool interviewee or a charming regurgitator. I think I can safely say that I’m in some ways immune to being sucked into the dumping grounds of slickness and consumption and I suppose I should be happy about that. However, if I’m not really immune, but only think I am, then please be kind enough to let me be like the ostrich and keep my head buried up my keister.