Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I was interviewed on a small-town radio station Tuesday morning. It was fun, the questions were wide-ranging and intelligent without being provoking, and they kept repeating both the time and place of my appearance in Ortonville (MN), and my web site address. Yet I would love a "do over." I feel I wasn’t as articulate as I have been other times or as spritely as I would have liked to appear. I guess that’s why I’m a writer; I can make conversations seem spontaneous and witty if I’ve got a couple of weeks to do it.

By the way, that’s the Ortonville, MN, public library on Saturday, May 16, from one to three. I’ll be giving a talk and selling my books.

I am starting to look ahead to signing events in the fall, when Blackwork will makes its appearance and then to June 2010, when I want to take the Empire Builder train from Minneapolis to Seattle, making stops along the way to do signings. Does anyone know if the needlework shop Classy Threads is still in business in Malta, Montana? They aren’t answering their phone.

One place I’m talking to for an October appearance is Martha Marrell’s in Milwaukee. They put on a fancy meal for their authors, the food themed to the book the author is promoting. And the author, in turn, presents everyone at the table with a little gift. Since I do needlework mysteries, I should come up with something stitched. A bookmark, for example. I’ll have to find out how many guests come to this thing, so I can judge how complex a pattern I could trust myself to finish in time for the dinner, which will be somewhere around the second weekend in October. I’ll also stop in Madison at Booked for Murder. I’ve been going to Booked for Murder since my first novel, Murder at the War, was published back in 1987.

I was reading an article posted on the Arts & Letters Daily blog and came across this quote from Samuel P. Huntington, who wrote a book called The Soldier and the State: "Man has elements of goodness but he is also evil, weak and irrational." Sounds like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple to me. You remember her, the old Victorian remnant "with a mind like a sink," always thinking the worst of people. When accused of this she would say, "Yes, my dear, but I am so often right." Interesting to think of the mild –mannered Miss Marple and the curmudgeonly Mr. Huntington (okay, one is a fictional person, but I’m sure Ms. Christie knew women like her) as agreeing on the basic wickedness of humankind! But isn't that the basis of most mystery novels? That humankind may look sweet on the surface, but lurking beneath are greed and cruelty and selfishness?


Camille Minichino said...

What a thought to start my day, Monica! I can't really disagree, but I have a great counterexample of generosity and consideration from a stranger.

That morning at Malice Domestic when we were rushed down the stairs at the sound of the fire alarm, a young man got in front of me and walked backwards to help me. He kept his arms out to guide me and constantly looked over his shoulder alerting me to what was around the corner at the landings. At the bottom, he disappeared into the crowd before I could thank him properly.

I should make him the good guy in my next book!

Betty Hechtman said...

I'm sure you were great on your radio interview, Monica. I saw what a great story teller you are at both the Berkley dinner and our panel.

What a nice story, Camillle. I didn't realize you were one of the evacuee, too.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Omigosh do I ever relate to that angsting about the radio interviews, Monica! Even though I have some broadcasting experience (back in the Dark Ages), and by I've now done quite a few author interviews in small markets, I still worry about how I've come off in them. Sometimes I find that doing lots of preparation helps, and sometimes it just makes me more nervous. Sometimes an interviewer's question will throw me completely for a loop, and I'll find myself stumbling around a bit. Other times the interview sails along and it's like chatting with a best bud. I recently decided not to worry so much about little stumbles, just like I don't worry about them too much in one-on-one conversations in person. The ones I did have to learn to "handle" are the ones where it's perfectly clear that the interviewer didn't read the book, and has no idea what it's even about. Fortunately, those are usually fairly short, and I can fall back on prepared "messages", kind of like a politician!

I'm grateful for these interviews in smaller markets, in case the day ever comes that I hit the "big time" with major appearances. It's really not easy to be cool and articulate all the time!

Monica Ferris said...

Oh, Camille, I'm sure most people are kind and good, like your anonymous friend on the stairs. But stress them just the right way and a great many people will do terrible things. It's just that most of us aren't stressed that way. But look at lynch mobs, mostly made up of ordinary people convinced they are doing the right thing and caught up in the moment. Or some young man with a growing family (one member with expensive medical problems) who loses his job and his creditors are starting to get really impatient and he has a frail old cranky uncle with a lot of money and there's a will . . . Hey, our chosen profession of mystery writer depends on characters who are susceptible to pressure!

Kathryn, your words were a welcome reassurance to me. Thank you.