International “fame” goes down in flames

I was feeling a bit cocky. Maybe more than a bit.

The Capstone publicist – a sharp and wonderful person – had a favor for me. Would I be willing to do a live interview about Little Rock Girl? A radio station in Ireland wanted to interview me for a 15-minute segment. Ireland? I asked. She told me she’d checked it out; it was a legit news station, like Ireland’s public radio or WCCO.

I’d been interviewed many times in my PR job, but this was about my book and my writing career! I was working as a phlebotomist – more on that later – and not feeling very writerly. Just bloody. Before work, my almost-husband was sending me off  with a kiss and have a great bio-hazard-free day! Don’t get stuck with a needle! Don’t spray yourself with plasma!

My answer to the publicist was an immediate yes.

I did all the things I’d coached people to do. I wrote talking points. I anticipated questions and practiced answering them out load. I thought about the absolute worst questions they could ask and prepared for those as well.

Then I turned, as my daughter would say, a bit bragity brag. Me! My book! Live segment! Ireland News Radio! International!

The morning of the interview, my manager covered for me on the plasma floor. I sat in her office, wearing blue scrubs, and called the number they’d provided. Radio stations have guests call in early. The producer talks to you for a minute and makes sure you’re not a crazy person. Then you go on hold and listen to the segment before yours.

And that’s what brought me back to Earth. There was an expert on the show, and people were calling in to share their stories about … Cockroaches! I would be

Cockroaches: so disgusting I couldn't use a real photo.

Cockroaches: so disgusting I couldn’t use a real photo.

following a 20-minute segment on cockroaches. Cockroaches! Disgusting bugs that can’t be killed unless sprayed by Napalm. Then me. Not me, then cockroaches. Nope. Cockroaches, then me.

The interviewer said, after our conversation about cockroaches, we’ll visit with Shelley Marie Tougas, author of Little Rock Girl. And the listeners were probably thinking I was a writerly writer. Sitting next to a fireplace in my wool sweater, ready to hurry back to my desk to finish a chapter before having dinner and drinks with my editor. Not exactly. I was getting ready to dress in protective gear so I could stick 17-gauge needles into the arms of plasma donors.

The interview went well. I was prepared for all the questions. My only struggle: this tendency I have to pick up other people’s language quirks and accents. If the interview had been any longer, I might have said something like, top of the mornin’ to ya!

Blimey! What a lesson!  I can let my head float into the clouds as long as I keep my feet on the ground.

Have a great weekend. And top of the mornin’ to ya all!

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