I’ve been doing some interviews to promote WHEN I GOT OUT, and it’s an interesting experience.
Talking about writing is certainly different from writing itself. When writing, a writer is inside his book; a writer publicizing that book is outside of it. When writing a book, an author tries to disappear into the story. A publicizing writer stands in front of his work, saying, “Look what I’ve done.” Two very different states of mind that demand careful, sometimes difficult blending.
For example, I was doing a radio interview with a station in Florida, and I was talking about what happens to my “hero” Larry Ingber. At one point in the conversation, I could have mentioned that Larry’s adventures lead him to the Bahamas. Maybe listeners in Florida would have been more interested in buying my book if they knew the guy winds up in the nearby Bahamas.
But the writer in me didn’t want to “give away” the plot. I don’t even want to reveal the Bahamas plot-turn here. The only reason I am is that the very first thing in the book is Larry-as-author’s Notice at the beginning:
MARCH 30, 2010
Four sealed, notarized copies of this document have been sent by certified mail—one each—to:
Ms. Janet DiFiore
District Attorney of Westchester County, New York
111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
White Plains, New York 10601
Mr. Daniel Stein
Chief, Criminal Division
United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York
1 Saint Andrews Plaza
New York, NY 10007
Mr. Wilfredo A. Ferrer
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida
99 N.E. 4th Street
Miami, FL 33132
Mr. David Bowdich
Assistant Director in Charge, Los Angeles Field Office
Federal Bureau of Investigation
11000 Wilshire Blvd. #1700
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Should anything of a criminal or violent nature happen to the writer of these pages or should he unexpectedly disappear, these officials have directions to open their packages, read the contents, and act accordingly.
An attentive reader might see that “Miami” address and not be surprised when Larry’s story takes him to some faraway places.
Also I “left a clue” in some of the pictures I put up about WHEN I GOT OUT that showed a sprig of orchid. Why is there an orchid there? How does that figure in the story? Good question.
So I’m torn between giving away too much about my book and selling the hell out of it. I’m sure I’ll find a middle ground. (The TG says that a good trailer never kept anyone away from a movie.
WORDS ABOUT WORDS
Doing these interviews has forced me to find some concise vocabulary to describe my book in a very short time. In Hollywood, one gets used to talking about “log lines” and “elevator pitches” to describe projects.
But a long, complicated, “serious” book like mine resists a simple description. On one level, my book is about what happens when Larry Ingber, the “Ivy League Killer” from my first book WHAT IT WAS LIKE gets out of prison after forty years.
But it’s also about “getting out” of other things: getting out of one’s past … one’s guilt … self-destructive states of mind … loneliness … fear.
And not just for Larry: for other characters in the book.
It’s about second chances.
Talking about the book has introduced me to concepts I actually could have woven into the story. Like “self-sabotage.” (One of my interviewers used this term.) Larry certainly commits an act of self-sabotage – as reckless as his action in WHAT IT WAS LIKE? Who can say? But he is out on parole, with vindictive Parole Officer Fusco on his tail, and he should be ultra-careful. Larry certainly finds himself falling into patterns of thought and behavior that he wanted to change. All he wants is a normal, anonymous life, after all his “fame” as the Ivy League Killer back in the 1960s.
But a “normal, anonymous” life for Larry wouldn’t make an exciting book, would it? I put Larry though hell in WHEN I GOT OUT, but only in order to give the reader a big, full, deep, dramatic experience. I admit it: I’m swinging for the fences.
Why else write?
Some friends of mine helped me with a little “media training.” How to be a good guest, etc. It’s not so easy: there are things to know, like not overtalking … talking in full sentences, with a beginning, middle, and end … not interrupting oneself (no half-sentences or half-thoughts) … listening to understand, not just waiting to get my bit in … telling a story … savoring each experience.
So far it’s working, I guess. The interviews have been fun, and I’ve been getting good feedback from the hosts, saying that I was a good guest. For someone who spends a great deal of his time in a room alone, talking to no one, I’ve been OK with them.
I’ll post links to everything I do, as they are put up.
Here’s a link to the fun interview I did on SAM IN THE MORNING on latalkradio.com with Sam and Brenda:
Just click on October.
Here’s a link to an interview I did with the very friendly Larry and Robin from WOCA-FM in Ocala, FL:
I think I did OK. Maybe it’ll get someone to read the book.
(And maybe some of my friends and fans will post some good reviews on Amazon and goodreads.com….)
The best thing is in all this activity is that I’m working on something new, which creates a good balance for me.
MORE BOOK PROMOTION
I’ll be doing some other interviews –
Saturday, October 12th – Barb Adams live podcast -- https://barbadamslive.com – from 9-10:00 PM (PT)
Tuesday, October 15th – 5-5:25 PM(PT) – a call-in to a live radio show – WRITE ON! on KFAI-FM in Minneapolis/St. Paul -- https://www.kfai.org/program/writeonradio/
Wednesday, October 23rd –a call-in to a live radio show – WARREN IN THE MORNING on radiokingston in upstate New York – from 9:45-10:00 AM(ET)
Thursday, October 24th – interview on THE PROLIFIC WRITER podcast – release date to be determined
I hope somebody listens. And feedback is appreciated.