Friday, August 7, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For...

by Jennie Bentley

You know this picture you may have in your head, of the gracious author at her book signing: hair perfectly coiffed, nice clothes, friendly smile? That’s me. It’s release week for Spackled and Spooked, and I’ve got back to back events scheduled this week and for the next two. Three bookstore signings, one release party, one Evening with an Author, one TV appearance, and a three-day conference. Plus a couple of interviews, complete with photographer. What that means is an endless round of worry over make-up and clothes, whether my slip is showing, whether my hair is fluffy enough, how overweight I’ll look when the cameras turn on me...

Last year’s TV appearance for the release of Fatal Fixer-Upper was not auspicious. The anchor started the interview by asking me a question I didn’t understand. I kid you not, it sounded like gibberish. The words made absolutely no sense. I’ve watched the clip since, cringing, and it wasn’t just nerves: the question still doesn’t make sense to me, even when I’m calm. The cringeworthy part, though, is the silence that follows. The deer-in-the-headlights look on my face as I sit there, trying to decipher the question and how to answer it. The dawning horror on the anchor’s face as she realizes that she’s sitting opposite a guest who has frozen.

It worked out in the end, and I don’t think it took more than eight seconds or so. (Which, let me tell you, is an eternity on TV.) Eventually, I said something. Anything. I didn’t care what it was, as long as it filled the silence. I didn’t answer the question, but I was coherent. And it got better from there.

This year I get to do it again, along with all the other stuff I mentioned. If you look closely, you’ll see the manic look in my eyes as I worry about the hair, and the slip, and the fact that at home, I’m revising Plaster and Poison, which is scheduled for release in March, and writing DIY#4, tentatively titled Mortar and Murder, which—if I can get it written by the end of the year—might make it into the stores by the end of 2010.

Can you spell P-R-E-S-S-U-R-E?

Oh yes, and that’s without taking into account the ten or so manuscripts I've critiqued for Killer Nashville, the conference I’m attending next weekend; and the ten or so wannabe authors I have to meet with, to discuss their manuscripts; and the panels I have to prepare for, and the fact that at some point during the weekend, I have to write and ship a guest blog I promised to do on the 16th...

It’s the glamorous life of a writer. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. In September, when it’s all over and the only thing I have to worry about is finishing Mortar and Murder by the end of the year, I’ll look back on it and smile. But for now, if you happen to catch sight of me in the next few weeks, forgive me if I’m not the picture of the smiling, gracious author, would you? Ignore that rabid look in my eyes, and the way I twitch when someone says my name? And if I don’t answer your question right away, give me eight seconds for that deer-in-the-headlights look to go away and my brain to fire on all cylinders again? I’ll get there, I promise!

And if you’re in my neck of the woods this month, I’d love to see you. Check out my website, to see where I’ll be, and when!


JJ Cooper said...

All the best Jennie.

I did my first interviews last week for my debut. One by phone, one face-to-face print media and two radio. I swear I have no idea what I said in any of them. It's like a black hole when I've finished. I'm assured by my family I did well at the radio ones, but, of course, I haven't heard them.

I've interrogated some very nasty people in my time, but those times didn't quite compare to the radio interviews. Probably because I'm not asking the questions this time around. Similar type of rooms you're locked in though.

Three more radio gigs this week - no TV. I 'm now going to go into any TV interviews (hopefully) wondering what that first question will be. I know it'll be interesting - just gotta get that answer in before eight seconds.



Carla Buckley said...


You're too captivating to be anything more than fascinating in any interview you undertake! I love your description of your interview last year--may I turn to you for advice when the same thing happens to me after my release? Maybe we all should do a post: When Things Go Wrong...

I congratulate you for undertaking this whirlwind tour, and for keeping your books straight in your head. Ah--the demands of being a multi-published author.

Best of luck, but you won't need it!