Terry Shaw, author of “The Way Life Should Be” has provided us with some entertaining anecdotes of his journey through the world of the newly published author of fiction. As a recently published author of a non fiction book, I thought I might contribute something along those lines as well.
For the 2 or 3 of you out there who have somehow failed to register my previous numerous plugs, my book is called "Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet" (this is actually key information to fully appreciate the story below.)
One of the book publicity chores of a non-fiction writer, especially if the book covers themes of topical interest (as mine does), is to appear by phone on talk radio shows. Lots of them. I have been doing this for a couple of weeks, and most of my experiences have been great. BUT… every now and then, you get something like this:
HOST: "Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show. Bob here with a special guest for this segment. He is Dr. Seymour Garte, a Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health from the School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, and his new book “The Growing Menace of Turtles”, is a great read. Good afternoon Professor."
HOST: "I find the book fascinating, Professor. Tell us, exactly how did you discover that the growing population of turtles in this country is becoming a threat as you put it “to our lives, our livelihoods and our way of life?”ME (long pause while I try desperately to think of the least stupid way I can put this.) “Well actually Bob” (not his real name) “the name of my book is ‘Where We Stand’, and it isn’t about turtles at all.”
HOST: (with absolutely no hesitation) “We’ll be right back folks, after this commercial break, don’t go away, because we will be taking your calls to Professor Garte”
HOST (OFFAIR) “Gee Professor, I’m sorry, somebody screwed up. What did you say was the name of your book, oh wait, here it is, yeah we got a sheet, but no actual book. OK look we still have a minute of commercial break, tell me, what’s your book about?
After spending the full minute explaining what all 300 pages of my book is about, we go back on the air, and the interview (about 20 minutes talking about environmental and public health trends) goes fine. Considering that I end up both asking and answering all the questions. Bob does contribute a bit, with a pithy “Ah” or a perceptive “really?”. Nodding of the head doesn’t count in radio.
Another commercial, and then its time to take calls.
HOST: “All right folks, Dr. Garte is here to take your calls and answer any questions you might have about his very interesting book. Well the phones are ringing. Go ahead Janet, you are on with Bob and Dr. Garte”
JANET: “Thank you Bob, love your show. Dr. Garte, what can we do about this turtle invasion. I’m worried for my children."
ME ( very long pause, while waiting for Bob to jump in and straighten things out. Finally…)
HOST: “Thanks Janet, good question. Dr, Garte, your reply to Janet’s question about these turtles please?”
ME (another couple of seconds during which feverish brain activity comes up with the brilliant idea of just getting this woman off the line). “Keep them inside ma'am. Especially when a turtle attack is imminent.”
HOST: “Jack you’re on the air.”
JACK: “Dr Garte, I represent the organization ‘Friends of Turtles,’ and I think…
ME (without thinking) “Is this a joke?”
HOST: “Jack, hang on a moment, we need to go to another commercial break. Hold your thought, and well be right back.”
HOST (OFFLINE) “Listen Professor, we really don’t like our guests insulting the callers. Tends to lower the ratings. Why did you say that?”
ME: “Bob, my book has nothing to do with turtles”.
HOST: “We are back on in 5..4.. (ONAIR) “We’re back with Professor Garte from the University of Pittsburgh. We've lost Jack, but we have Stephanie on the line. Go ahead Stephanie, you’re on the air.”
STEPHANIE: “Oh Dr. Garte, I found what you said very interesting. Do you really think that many things in our environment have been improving?”
ME (After saying Thank you God and Stephanie) “Yes I do, for example….”
STEPHANIE: “Because right across the street from my house, they keep spraying the trees, and knocking them down.”
ME “Did you say knocking them down?”
STEPHANIE: “Yes, and the next day they are back up again. It’s the EPA. I can tell from their helmets. Course it says EPA in Russian, you know with those weird letters, but I know who they really are. Course my husband Ted? He says I’m crazy. Hah hah.”
ME: “heh heh.”
HOST: “Thank you Stephanie for that comment. OK folks, our time is up. Thanks for being here Dr. Garte, and remember everybody, Dr. Garte’s book, “The Growing Menace of Turtles” is available at your local bookstore and online.