In a strange, new – and entirely unexpected – development, I’m suddenly talking about books on TV. (Or, I’ve now done it twice, and I hope to do it again. I don’t know that twice necessarily constitutes a regular doingness…)
I was discovered – oh, yeah, I said it: “discovered” (what, you have to be in a blockbuster movie for the word to apply? I’m taking it! Nothing ever happens to me! It’s mine!) – by a producer looking for someone to talk about summer reads for Memorial Day weekend. He happened upon a website for a local writer (moi) and contacted me in May through the feedback form with a quick note and a phone number.
My first thought before calling him: “I can’t do this. I’m not a TV ‘personality.’ I don’t have the ‘stuff’ for live television (Inside the Writers’ Studio is another kind of filming altogether.) I’m – uh – awkward.”
Second thought: “I should just say no. This didn’t exist before as an option, so it wouldn’t be a loss of any kind, really, if I didn’t do it… Not doing it beats the potential embarrassment I could suffer. Or cause.”
Third: “But it could be – undoubtedly would be – fun. Who wouldn’t want to talk about books?”
I called him back and said yes, and he gave me my instructions, which included arriving at the studio – about 45 minutes from my driveway – by 6:30 a.m.
On a Saturday morning.
I’d also need to come up with five great summer reads in the three days between my speaking with him on the phone and my arrival at the studio (not actually three days at all once you factor in work hours, and who has time to read five books in one week when one works full time? not this girl).
Fortunately, he didn’t need me to talk about new books, but books people might not have heard of. As it happened, I’d read at least four of those somewhat recently.
Prepping involved frantic note-taking and practice synopsizing and talking-point-ing with Ian.
Saturday came fast. As did my 4:30 a.m. alarm (how do morning news people do this all the time?).
The morning drive was rainy, and I took one of those cliche through-the-windshield pictures on the way there, but the image was sadly lost in the Great Vacation Phone Drop Into Water of June 27, 2013.
Once at the Channel 8 studio in New Haven, I got to experience my first green room. These are the books waiting in the green room:
I also got to sit in this monitor haven – which felt a little bit like being inside Broadcast News, possibly one of the best movies ever – with the producer for a few minutes to discuss the books’ order of mention:
Afterward, it was a nerve-racking 20 additional minutes of waiting in the green room before being brought into the studio itself, where I reveled in the behind-the-scenes access while waiting for my segment to begin, at which point I was to take a seat at the anchor desk (!) beside Channel 8 anchor Jeff Valin. I shut up my anxious stomach by taking pictures (which were thankfully shared to Facebook well before the Great Vacation Phone Drop Into Water of June 27, 2013).
Soon it was time to have one of those battery packs clipped to the waist of my pants, the mic cord strung under my shirt and attached to the collar, and to make the walk up to the anchor desk (in makeup I’d done myself in amateur fashion – no makeup person).
Jeff Valin couldn’t have been more welcoming and comforting (I’m not just saying that). Energetic, fun, and casual, he put me at ease as much as anyone could realistically put an extraordinarily nervous person at ease.
After sitting and then listening to the countdown, it was time. Jeff Valin introduced the segment while I waited for the cue to speak, at first having no idea I was in the frame with him (you can probably tell; I’ve been told about it, but I haven’t watched – and won’t watch – the video), and the book talk began.
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Aegean Dream by Dario Ciriello
The Good House by Ann Leary
Mafia Captive by Kitty Thomas
My Summer Vacation by Hannah Goodman
Here’s the thing: you plan and plan and plan what to say and how to say it, making it sound even somewhat eloquent while delivering it in your own living room, and then the time comes to talk about it on a live morning show and you forget much of what you wanted to say. That, and time goes a little faster than it seems to move in real life.
Even so, I hope I did all of the books justice, because they really are all worth reading.