How Not To Do A TV Interview

Last week I appeared on morning television. It could have been a wonderful experience. A chance to sell my book and build my profile. But it wasn’t so wonderful, not really.

Let me backtrack a little. When my novel was released at the beginning of March, I was due to appear on Weekend Sunrise on Channel 7,  – the same network that screens Home and Away – here in Sydney. It’s one of those newsy, chat shows with desks and couches and very happy, smiling presenters. However, a couple of days before I was to make my TV debut, Schapelle Corby (enter young, attractive, Australian drug smuggler who may or not be mentally ill depending which press you read) was released from prison in Bali. So me and my book were ditched for Schapelle. Then the following week, the tragedy of the Malaysian Aircraft disappearance began to unfold and understandably, I was once again bumped.

For five weeks I was put on standby for the weekend only to be replaced by something or someone else.

So, I took my book to another network, Channel 10 – who screens rival soap opera, Neighbours. It was a risky strategy. I was guaranteed a soft, friendly interview on Channel 7, but probably not so soft or friendly on Channel 10. I should also confess that I happen to know a senior someone at Channel 10 who opened the door for me to step through.

If you are reading my blog for the first time, let me explain that my novel is based on the 5 years I spent working on Home and Away, one of Australia’s most popular TV shows. I always knew this would provide ‘the hook’ for any publicity and also for many readers, so I was prepared to be asked lots of questions about the cast of the show. I wasn’t disappointed. Nearly every interview I’ve given has turned on the ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspect and most have tried to push me to reveal gossip or scandal, which is fine, as long as they accept the fact that I won’t answer those questions!

Unlike press or radio interviews, you do get some warning about the angle of a TV interview when the producer calls and asks lots of questions. And I was left in no doubt with the Channel 10 producer –  ‘we want you to dish the dirt’. Of course you do, but I won’t talk about gossip, scandal or dish any dirt. I was pretty clear, so I thought.

Given my experience with Channel 7, I fully anticipated being dumped before my appearance, particularly when I was moved form the Thursday to the Wednesday. But Wednesday morning came around and there in my Tweeter feed was one from Studio 10 mentioning my name. WooHoo! It’s going to happen.

I was immediately terrified. In fact, I was so nervous part of me hoped I’d get cancelled at the last minute! Of course that wasn’t going to happen.

The lovely Kirsty Noffke, my PR rep at Random House met me at the studio and we were ushered through to the Green Room and before I even sat down, I was taken straight through to make-up. After fifteen soothing minutes in make-up, I was bustled through sound to get ‘miked up’ and then through the studios doors to the chaotic backstage area. A tangle of cables, bodies and staging equipment. After a quick set change during a commercial break, I was plonked on a couch between Ita Buttrose, a legend of Australian media and publishing, and journalist, Jessica Rowe on one side; on the other side sat, journalists Joe Hildebrande and Sarah Harris.

Yes, my first  TV interview was with four seasoned veterans of the profession. What could possibly go wrong?

Sarah Harris introduced me, The Wardrobe Girl, and the theme of the interview -‘dishing the dirt on Home and Away.’ The next four minutes and forty-two seconds consisted of me not answering questions, whilst smiling, laughing and pretending to enjoy myself with four people who, up until that morning, had never heard of me or my book. Excellent.

My mind had decided that it would stop working during these few minutes. All the anecdotes I could have said vanished when I was put under pressure to reveal secrets, dirt, scandals. I didn’t even think to say, ‘Well, you’ll need to read my book to find that out.’ Or, ‘In my book, there’s a scene where ….’

So rehearse, practise answering questions in a way that isn’t rehearsed and sounds spontaneous. Never expect the interviewer/s to respect that there are questions you won’t want to answer, in fact they’re the very ones they’ll want answered!

They say all publicity is good publicity. I’m not so sure about that, but I did learn a lot from my experience and if I’m ever asked to go on TV again, I hope I won’t be such a startled rabbit in the headlights!

Here for your entertainment and education is the link Studio 10 Interview !

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When Bridget Jones crash lands on the set of Home and Away…

If you’re reading this, then let me tell you some amazing news. No, no, come closer I want to be sure you hear. Sitting comfortably? Good.

 

My book has been picked up by Beverley Cousins of Random House Australia and is going to published next April!!!

Hitting Your Mark - the first draft

Hitting Your Mark – the first draft

Sorry, I didn’t mean to squeal with delight quite so loudly into your ear. But you did hear, didn’t you?

Unbelievable. It really does happen. All that scratching away in the State Library of NSW, removed from the distractions of Facebook, Twitter,  the internet, the washing, ironing and assorted other household tasks I hate doing but just screamed for attention when I should’ve been writing. The editing, the rewriting, the frustration, the tears, the staring out of windows waiting for the right word, the rewriting, the workshops, writing groups – did I mention the rewriting? And lets not forget the self doubt which was almost paralysing sometimes. It’s all come to fruition.

'Pretty Beach'

‘Pretty Beach’

And unlike you, I wasn’t sitting comfortably, reading my computer screen, oh no. I had spent half a day travelling from Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand and was waiting at Brisbane Domestic Airport for the flight home to Sydney when my 6 year old announced she was desperate for the toilet. I was on the phone to my 23 year old daughter who was accessing my emails for me as I stood in the cubicle wondering if my gorgeous agent, Sheila Drummond had sent The Message. So, I discovered my dream had become a reality standing in a toilet cubicle, with my young daughter demanding that I pass the toilet paper she couldn’t reach! Oh yes, life’s all glamour for us soon-to-be- published authors.

Details? Yes, okay, I’m getting there – I was just basking in the glow of my dream. My book will be published by Random House Australia, next April – 2014, just in time for Mothers Day. It will be found in the Commercial Women’s Fiction section of your local bookstore. At the moment it’s titled ‘Pretty Beach Rescued‘ but that’s bound to change. The elevator pitch for my novel is just the same as this blog post – when Bridget Jones crash lands on the set of Home and Away.

Palm Beach aka Pretty Beach

Palm Beach aka Pretty Beach

Before I had my youngest daughter (I have 3 altogether 25, 23 and 6), I worked in the film and TV industry, including 5½ years on the long-running Australian soap opera, Home and Away and my inspiration for my novel comes from my time at Home and Away.  And as the opening paragraph of my synopsis explains:-

Pretty Beach Rescued has all the elements that make chick-lit ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the media industry novels, such as Bridget Jones Diary and The Devil Wears Prada resonate with the reader: men, gossip, complications, family drama, embarrassing predicaments and, of course, an inside look into the production of the media piece in question – in this case the TV show Pretty Beach Rescue, which is recognisably modelled on Home and Away. The novel is a fun, easy, sink-you-nails-into read with refreshing wit, vivid and aptly filmic descriptions.

"Pretty Beach Again"

“Pretty Beach Again”

But as they say, stay tuned, I’ll be writing about my experiences in the world of publishing and the process from contract to publication, which is still a bit of mystery to me! And I’ll also give you some inside gossip about my characters, particularly the gorgeous, if somewhat clumsy,  Tess Appleby, my heroine.

Versatile Blogger Award

Lene at Musings of Another Mother has been handing out gongs for Versatile Bloggers and she very kindly sent one my way. So thank-you very much, I graciously accept. , But of course in accepting comes the responsibility of the acceptance speech, which takes the form of  7 Interesting Facts about myself and 15 newly discovered blogs that I enjoy.

I hope you find these at least vaguely interesting –

  1. I worked on the TV series Home and Away for 5½ years, before that I worked in film including Mission Impossible 2 (yes, Tom Cruise really is that short!)
  2. I waited 17 years between having my second and third children. I needed a long rest.
  3. I lived in North London for 11 years before returning home to Sydney and finally setting up home in Balmain.
  4. I have finished a first draft of a novel, have one half-finished and initial thoughts about another.
  5. I have another blog, The Princess Letters Project, that was featured in The India Times
  6. I started ballet lessons a year ago, the day before my 48th birthday, fulfilling a childhood dream.
  7. I hate peas, they are little green balls of misery.

And here are my 15 newly discovered blogs for some weekend reading :-

Now, to accept one of these awards there are certain rules you have to follow;

1) thank the blogger who awarded you and link back to them (see above!)
2) share 7 interesting facts about yourself
3) pass the award on to 15 newly discovered blogs