Every day I try to learn something new. Hopefully this process will keep my mind sharp-I plan to continue doing it. In 1994 I conducted what was to become my first interview in what would later be known as "The Book Nook." It wasn't actually a show yet. It was just my first interview with an author. After I had conducted a few more author interviews at random times on random days during the music program that I was hosting every weekday on WYSO I thought that I had better come up with a name for the interview segments. I started calling it "The Book Nook on Afternoon Excursions."
My colleague Anne Williams was always coming up with good ideas and one day she suggested that perhaps I should consider doing my author interviews at a regular time so that listeners would know that if they tuned in at a particular time I would be talking to writers about their books. Anne was fond of structure. It was a good idea. I started doing the book slots right after the NPR news headlines ran at two o'clock.
That first author I interviewed talked to me on the telephone. She had written a fantasy/science fiction novel and that is what we talked about that day. This was pre-Google. I read the book but I didn't do anything else to find out more about this author. I had never heard of her before I did the interview. She was actually quite famous. I had no idea. I was new at this.
The author died a few years ago. I won't mention her name here but I could tell when I was doing the interview that she was somewhat perplexed that I knew so little about her. That would be nothing, really. I knew nothing about her. She was famous. I was oblivious to her fame. Even so, I enjoyed talking to her and that was the beginning of something that has meant a lot to me. I learned that I ought to do some research if I wanted to keep doing this and that I love talking to writers about their books!
About twenty minutes after that live interview had ended the phone rang in the studio. I answered it. The caller was a woman who had been the co-author of the book that I had just featured on the show. This other woman was apparently not nearly as well known but she had just heard that I had done an interview for their book with the famous one and she had called up to demand her equal time!
That was how I did live radio. I put her on the air. Just like that. I knew even less about her. Less than nothing? There are so many writers and so many books. I have to be a generalist to conduct the interviews that I do because every day I discover books written by authors who are unfamiliar to me and many of their subjects are also new to me. I plunge right in-I want to learn something!
The other day I got a book called "Proving Ground" by Peter Blauner. It is a crime novel set in New York City. I was not familiar with the author-I really liked the book. I contacted the author's publicist and asked about an interview. I was informed that yes, I could do a phone interview, that this was the author's first book in years and that he's a well known writer for television. I don't watch much TV, thus my ignorance.
I Googled him and yeah, wow, this guy is a highly respected writer who has accomplished many things. He's a fabulous writer! I loved this book and I'm looking forward to reading more because he's turning it into a series. And I'm going to track down his previous novels.
In this interview Peter Blauner talked about how he takes a completely different approach to writing novels than he does for his television work. He discussed how he figured out that journalism could become the path that might lead him to fulfill his dreams of becoming an author. And it did. I learned a lot from him. I hope that you do, too.
The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by five local library systems in southwest Ohio: the Greene County Public Library, Washington-Centerville Public Library, Clark County Public Library, Dayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.