Monday, 14 June 2010

I'm not ready for my close-up. . .

Last Friday I went to London to do a spot of filming for the Booked Up website. I traveled down by train from Cambridge and met my Bloomsbury publicist, Ian Lamb at Victoria station. We traveled the next short train journey to Wandsworth together and walked to the studio, arriving just as if began to rain.

Authors were in and out all day in a seemingly endless cycle. I arrived with enough time for a very swift chat with and a chance to see the little video that they'd already taken of a boy being very sweetly enthusiastic about my book, before I had to do my bit.

It didn't go very well. I don't mean that I was awful - I just mean that I wasn't good. We were each given a 45 second slot to introduce the book and for some reason this just didn't work for me. I'm not entirely sure why.

I think it may because I allowed myself to be too influenced by the director when she said that 'Everyone else has been saying. . .' Also the boy I saw in the clip had effectively given an introduction and it seemed to make me doing the same a little pointless. But also I did not quite prepare for the task properly. I normally just do whatever feels right at that moment, but with 45 seconds there just wasn't time for that. It needed precision and, though I hate doing it, on balance it would have been simpler to just write something and stick to it. In the end, it comes down to me. I did not get it right.

I had scribbled something down in my notebook but I chickened out. As soon as I was on the train home I realised that it would have been much better to say that. But these things are over in a flash. You get one chance to shine and it's gone.

That said, I do hate talking to a camera. Who feels natural doing that? People who work in TV, but no one else. Perhaps I just have to accept that the format did me no favours. If I was writing funny stories it would probably have been a doddle. But this is all part and parcel of being an author these days and I need to sort it out.

My publicist said that he felt a bit bad asking authors to do these things - even though it was his job - but I really don't mind. I just don't want to do anything unless I can do it well. Ian is always so incredibly enthusiastic - I felt like I'd let him down. I've been cross about it ever since.

Sometimes being OK isn't enough.


  1. Hiya Chris
    That sounds like a nightmare! But you are probably being too hard on yourself - like you say, it isn't what you do, you've been asked to do something completely alien to you. I think preparing something beforehand sounds like an excellent thing to do. I've had to talk about the things I make to people and it feels very uncomfortable but then I've been on stage (am-dram group) and apart from remembering lines, I felt a lot more comfortable. I think its because you're opening yourself up in broad daylight, being put on the spot. The knack to it probably comes with practise.
    Good luck for the next!
    Best wishes

  2. Thanks! You are right of course - practice may not necessarily make perfect, but it certainly makes less awful.