Sunday 30 August 2009

A quick scan of last week's offering and my mention of radio broadcasts made me think. I little recollection, and a few notes, and I can recall most (I think!) of my radio appearances. Most have been on BBC local radio stations and, with the exception of the pre-recorded outside broadcast for BBC Radio Stoke (and on the floor of a showroom for a toilet manufacturer in Alsager) and an interview and a series of 'snippets' for BBC Radio Oxford, all the others (16 to date) have been live and on the air.

Obviously most of these were to promote the books, although there were a couple of appeals for help and/or stories in there. However should anyone ever face the same daunting prospect, I would like to offer my own advice. My first interview was live on air, I'd never known anyone who had faced such a prospect before and so turned up expecting to be treated with kid gloves - not a hope! I was bundled into the studio halfway through a track, introduced to the presenter, who then proceeded to flick through the book (on the origins of Staffordshire place names) and ask the meaning of certain places. Great, if I had a perfect memory or had had some warning of what was coming - of course neither was the case and the interview was a complete disaster.

I didn't learn quickly until I realised that these interviews were more for the radio station's benefit than it was for either me or the publisher. As an author I don't HAVE to have air time. The presenter has two or three hours to fill on a number of days every week, the more I talk the better it is for the presenter for it means they have to say less. Hence ever since I have become more confident and have always made a point of asking for some idea of the questions beforehand - not that I ever get them, but it does mean I have made the point that I won't allow the pace and direction of the interview to be governed by someone who knows little about the book (they won't have read more than the odd page).

Today I know the first thing they will ask will be a lead-in question. As this will always be: What got you interested? How did you come to write this? Why did you write it? I already have an idea what my first lines will be. Immediately after that you should already know what YOU want to say and keep talking for as long as possible - while you're talking they won't interrupt until you're out of time!

Clearly there will be times when you dry up, or the interviewer manages to get another question in. Listen to interviews and you will often hear the response: "Interesting you should ask that, for it reminds me of .....", which is when the speaker is thinking of the response, and think you will. One other thing, if you can get a copy of the interview it will help you improve next time. Everyone will naturally be their own worst critic.

What was once a daunting prospect is now not so terrifying. Ostensibly I am talking to one person in a room, while many thousands are eavesdropping! Treat it like a one-on-one conversation, plan what you want to say beforehand, and enjoy it.

Sunday 23 August 2009

A Week on the Road

As promised I have managed to update the blog in a week! I can't promise a truly exciting update every week - however I shall try.

Been a decent week, have managed to complete the most of the writing for the next contracted book, looking at travelling the ancient salt routes. Have a number of photographs left to retake which I shall be doing in the next few days (light and weather permitting). Shan't give too much away here but it sort of follows a similar vein to an earlier book walking the Ley Lines Across the Midlands. On the subject of that book, I received a CD of my interview on BBC Local Radio this week. Broadcast around the end of July I had not heard it before and didn't realise it was on the BBC website until I listened to the CD! If interested here is the link...

.... it does lead into the salt route theme quite nicely.

This was not my first interview on radio - not been counting but I think this must be somewhere between 12 and 15, plus a few on the telephone. It was one of the first to be pre-recorded, most are live.

As soon as this book is finished - should be ready for the post office by the end of the week - it is on to my favourite county and the subject of place name origins, but more on that next time.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Been far too long since I posted anything, however I have made notes to update regularly. This will probably make each post carry less substance.

Since my last update (I was amazed to find it was so long ago) I have seen another 150 or so articles in print. However I was shocked to find I stated I had had five books on the shelves - I know I've been busy but didn't realise that with the publication of Nottinghamshire Place Names next week, that will make fourteen books published, three further manuscripts at the publishers/printers, and five more contracts to finish before the end of the year. Which probably gives me a plausible excuse for not posting, however I will try to make them weekly if at all possible.

I shall upload some of the book covers, if anyone ever gets around to reading anything of mine I would appreciate feedback. Difficult to know what one is doing right when naturally complaints will always outnumber praise.

I have enjoyed researching different areas away from the usual place names. Some of the characters I met in researching the ghost/paranormal books were a delight and it was an education to discover some of the events and beliefs of a subject I have no personal experience with, however I was and still am keen to learn more.

Tracing the ancient trackways provided me with an avenue to explore pre-history from a very different perspective. I climbed a few hills, walked many a mile and, owing to the obligatory 'instant energy rations' strapped to my back (courtesy of the Cadbury organisation) never managed to lose more than the odd pound or two - in fact I just got hungry!

Currently writing/researching/travelling the next book, another looking at old routes this time trade routes. I plan to keep posting updates on the research, rather than the work itself. So watch this space and, should you feel so inclined, please do comment.