Sunday, May 28, 2006

Image and Imagination

Konrath can give me palpitations.
He did it again with his latest: Interviewing 101.

"Interviews!" my tiny mind shrieked.
"You mean we've got to do interviews, on top of visiting 5000 booksellers?"

Don't um and ah he said.
My tiny mind immediately reverted to my stuttering days and then to my talking-too-fast days when high-speed internet had nothing on me.
"Need voice coach, " it moaned.
He mentions image - writers should give consideration to the image they project.
"Need image consultant, " it reflected.
Sorry, couldn't resist.

Then I calmed down, stopped rocking from side to side and flipping my lower lip, slapped my inner child, and got up from my corner.
It was just the idea, you see.
My days of stuttering and speed-speech are long over.
I've been interviewed before by the media, by local and national press, by the CBC and such.
We all survived. No ambulance, zoo attendants or SWAT team necessary.
Not sure a phone-sex voice is an asset though.

In any event, there's tape recorders and video cams and doo-dads and role playing to give one a heads-up about any annoying speech habits or awkward body language.
You can prepare. Really.
It's not like they call you up and demand an interview while the dinner's burning, the baby's howling and the smoke detector is going off like a submarine about to submerge.

Most of us, I suspect, have been interviewed before, for one thing or another. So there should be no real cause for panic.
Speaking of image, can you imagine urbane and friendly Ric having any problem at all?
Or vivacious Bonnie? They'd love her.
Or big guy, gentlemanly Erik?
No, neither can I.
Go through my entire blogroll and favourites list and one will find all are engaging, attractive, articulate people.

BTW, Flood is conducting Blogger Interviews. Jason is the first through the gate. Be fun to visit and sign-up.


Lisa Hunter said...

Better than diction coaches or image make-overs is having a list of "talking points" you want to get across. Make sure you hit all of them, otherwise an interview can wander off and the piece can be about something totally unimportant. I just read an interview of an actress, and the whole article is about how rotton the stage sets are for her new play.

Also, don't assume the interviewer is your buddy and that you can say things "off the record." When I've done interviews, I've always been appalled by things people said to me that they shouldn't have.

kmfrontain said...

Those are good points. Going off on a tangent isn't a good idea, when you're a writer and want to sell your craft, not your person.

Bernita said...

So true, Lisa. Konrath did remind everyone not to get off track and to stay focused.
That's a good example of just how NOT focused an interview can be.
And the point about watching one's mouth is well-taken.

Yes, KM, there's the subliminal message sent that the work may also meander into irrelevancies if the interviewee does.
Nevertheless, an interview IS about the person - and he shouldn't be boring.

Erik Ivan James said...

"Public speaking" is intimidating at the least. Most people will near panic if not experienced or very well prepared. If you believe you may have the opportunity to be interviewed, or speak to a group, prepare and practice. And take well to heart what Lisa said about trusting the interviewer...Don't!

Bernita said...

People have more practise "public speaking" than they may realize, though an interview is not quite the same as an auditorium.
One thing that applies to some interviews, remember the finished product may not repeat what you thought you said.
I doubt if it's a good idea to upbraid the journalist or his paper for most inaccuracies about your "vision" - be something like sending a nasty letter after a rejection. Stupid.

Flood said...

Bernita, thank you so much for the link to my interview series. I am getting interest already, booked for the next 7 weeks.
Looking forward to your interview! (I won't make you speak, but you should wear something nice) ;)

Bernita said...

I happen to think it's a great idea, Flood, - and a very generous one on your part.
You mean I can't come in my nightie?

Ric said...

Speaking of image, can you imagine urbane and friendly Ric having any problem at all?


Actually, I'm nervous about public speaking because I don't feel I do it very well. My writing is so much better - something about having the time to think and revise - as opposed to off the cuff.

Preparation is the key. And, if I can read it, even better.

Highly flattered to be characterized as urbane.

Do believe that's a first.
Thank you, lovely lady.

Bernita said...

I cannot believe that someone who, every day, meets and greets cutomers for his successful business would have the slightest problem with interviews - since he conducts them every day.
So I stand by "urbane," Ric.
(I have a lot of other nice adjectives for you, but I didn't want to make it too long.)

Dennie McDonald said...

My mother (always about my mother...) made me take Speech in jr high to break me of "like" and "you know" and I did good - until the kids came along and they do it all the friggin time!

I too am a stutterer - but it didn't start until adulthood - mostly my brain rolls 50-times faster than my mouth so I get caught up in it!

I have the need to fill quiet space by talking so I would probably be the perfecr interviewee - you'd get far mor than you ever dreamed of - just ask the MIL and the four hour car ride the other day - I never shut up!

Bernita said...

I'm sure an interviewer would find you a relief from the hemmers and hawers, Dennie.
Or having to coax with soothing noises someone out from under the studio table.

Gabriele C. said...

Don't take this Konrad as gospel.

Do what you do well to promote your books, and if interviews aren't your strength, don't do them.

Bernita said...

Or only do written ones.
Or don't do readings.
Gabriele, you know how I admire G.G. Kay.
Saw a TV interview and reading by him. Poor guy.
Shy and monotonous in his speech.He ruined a perfectly good passage. His whole body language said "I DON"T WANT TO DO THIS."
Good thing I already have all his books and am completely sold on him as a writer.

Bonnie Calhoun said... are so sweet...vivacious I'm not so sure about...More like Cujo meets the Exorcist....but I'll find out in August. I'm going to a big writers convention in Phila....

Let's see if I've propperly sharpened those mean pencils! LOL!

JA Konrath said...

Do what you do well to promote your books, and if interviews aren't your strength, don't do them.

That's a great way to make friends with the media, your publisher, and your fans---to tell them no.

If interviews aren't your strength, perhaps broadening your horizons, learning new skills, and making them a strngth is a better approach than simply not doing them.

It's hard enough to make a name for yourself without turning down opportunities.

Bernita said...

Bonnie, you'd be a certain hit. You've got everything.

One thing I would add, Joe, is that the media talk among themselves, and even if one does not scintillate in interviews, if one is considerate and professional, it still helps.
Studio crew may buy books, they have family who may buy books, especially if they may say "had this really nice person on camera/radio today. Could tell they were nervous, but really nice."
Hope I'm making sense here.

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