Two weeks ago, I was scheduled to do a live radio interview with the talented Mr. Cyrus Webb on Conversations Live! Radio. Cyrus and I had worked together about a year ago, and I knew him to be professional, enthusiastic, and passionate about books. I was looking forward to the interview despite the fact I dislike doing promotions.
Cyrus Webb does his homework. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do mine. I had planned on having all three Mr. Pish children’s books in front of me, as well as print drafts of the three currently in the works. I was going to have a list of all the states and provinces Mr. Pish has visited. The call would take place in a relaxed, quiet setting, on a fully charged phone, and I was going to be the consummate professional.
There’s one thing I forgot to keep in mind: This ain’t no perfect world.
The day of the interview, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was called to Spokane (over an hour from my home) at 10:30 a.m. No problem, I thought, this should only take a few hours, and I’ll be home in plenty of time to prepare for the interview. Preparation would include refreshing my memory by looking through the books I mention above. Sure, I should know them inside and out by now, but I’ve been submerged in formatting a fiction project, and my brain is sort of fried. Besides, I like to be on my toes.
My meeting dragged on. Nothing was resolved. I started getting anxious. I needed to be home long before five o’clock (the time of the interview). I was supposed to call in at 4:45 p.m. It was already after three. Things were looking iffy.
Normally I take a copy of each of my books with me any time I go somewhere, but now that I have nine in publication, my book bag is getting a little heavy. (No, I don’t own a Kindle.) Also, I left the house in somewhat of a rush. Note to self: from now on always bring that book bag no matter what it weighs. (No, I can’t leave it in the car. I only have the car on Fridays.)
It was now 4 p.m. I had to make the call in 45 minutes. I thought, if I drove really fast, I could make it to a Stevens County library where they had my books, and check them out so I’d have them with me when I made the call. But I didn’t have my library card with me – and the nearest branch was just about forty-five minutes away. And, in Friday afternoon Spokane summer traffic, I’d need every second of that. It surely beat sitting around thinking about how dumb I’d been. It was worth a shot. Maybe I could pull this off after all.
I thought about what I really needed to know and I figured I should really have handy exactly how many states Mr. Pish visited in each book. Refusing to sit idly by, as I was driving, I called a few friends and left voicemails asking them to count the states in each book and call me back. That’s when I noticed I’d burned up a lot of my cell phone’s battery making calls during the drive into the city. I now had two (of four) bars left. Would those be enough for a 35 minute interview? I called my friends back and left rushed voicemails saying “Never mind.” Like that wasn’t awkward. Then I turned my phone off to save battery power. (My car charger broke two years ago.)
My nerves were starting to kick in. My throat was dry as hell. I didn’t want to take the time to stop for something to drink, but hacking during an interview was even less desirable. So I got myself a 16 ounce bottle of water.
I wasn’t sure how far I could get, but on the hopes of getting far enough – and to a decent phone signal – I kept driving north. I live in a very mountainous region of Washington State, so I figured if I could get to a town center, then my chances of finding a good phone signal without too much road noise were better.
With a scrap piece of paper precariously positioned on my right thigh, I began geographically recounting each of Mr. Pish’s books in my head and writing down each state visited. For all FIVE books. Some books overlapped locations. How was I going to get a total number of states? Was it that important? Surely I’d be asked that. I numbered each state for each book. I hoped this would be good enough. But what if I was asked a specific question about a specific location in one of the books? How could I have let this happen?
4:30 p.m. My stomach was starting to churn. I was at Loon Lake. I never paid attention to how long it actually took to get to the library from there. I figured possibly 30 minutes. I didn’t want to turn my phone on to check the signal. I didn’t want to sit in a parking lot somewhere for fifteen minutes running down my battery when there was a possibility I might be able to make it to the library, as well as a better phone signal. The better the signal, the better the chances the call wouldn’t chew up my battery power. Or drop. Did I mention my stomach was starting to churn?
I was guzzling water like I was stranded in the desert. I could feel it boiling inside me. I’d almost finished the bottle. What had I been thinking? I needed that for during the interview.
4:40 p.m. I was at the top of a mountain. It was going to take more than 5 minutes to make it to the location I wanted. I’d really done it now.
4:50 p.m. I turned on my phone. Still two battery bars. At 4:55 p.m. I dialed in. I figured I could make it to a good enough spot by the time the show went live. I apologized for calling in so late.
5:00 p.m. Desperate, I settled for a dirt lot on the west side of the highway. The interview started. I turned the car to face away from the traffic, hoping that would reduce the amount of road noise in the background. I was now pointed directly at the sun, which beat down into the car…and onto me. I started to perspire. Okay, I won’t lie. Within ten minutes I was sweating. I didn’t want to turn the car on to reposition it – because we all know how cars ding ding ding to announce that the key is in the on position. So I cracked the windows just in time for some eighteen-wheelers to blow by. I tried to cover the phone. I slugged back the rest of my water. I prayed I wouldn’t be asked anything I couldn’t answer.
5:20 p.m. Interview ends – I haven’t flubbed, floundered or spontaneously combusted. I was smiling. My call didn’t drop. My battery didn’t die. And I truly enjoyed talking with my host.
The moral of this story is: don’t do what I did. The interview was great, but the 1.5 hours leading up to it were hell. And it was no one’s fault but my own. Next time, I probably won’t be as lucky. So I’m going to make sure there is no “next time.” I learned my lesson, and I’ll always be prepared…from now on.
[Note, if you missed the radio show, you can listen here.]