The ‘w’ in bookwitch is slipping fast, I’m sorry to say. I have tried really hard over the last two years to fill the blog with things that range from neutral to glowing with praise, saving negative comments for government departments and the odd, anonymous person. But it’s going to turn into a ‘b’ very soon.

Some of the interviews I’ve done with authors have been very straightforward, from a practical point of view. They’ve been conducted near my home and haven’t taken ages to travel to, to do, or to organise. Most other interviews have also been easy to arrange, except for one, with a very well known writer, where in the end I decided to cut my losses.

I’ve often been tired when doing them, though, but it’s something I can put up with. I’m asking for someone’s time, and me being stupid enough not to live in London, I have to travel. Setting aside the cost for trains and planes and taxis, it often involves getting up really early or returning home really late, and sometimes both.

The ‘w’ to ‘b’ situation has been developing over the last three weeks, over an author who I shall call Alex Smith. He/she is coming to a place near me, so I asked for 15 minutes over coffee somewhere. Alex returned my email immediately, sounding positive, but referring me to his/her publicist. The publicist took a very long time to reply, but said ‘we will definitely set up an interview’.

Three days before the event I had heard no more, so tried again to get an answer. I had hoped to involve a couple of ardent fans to do the talking, so needed to know if they were free to meet Alex. They were.

Unfortunately both Alex and his/her publicist decided the day before the event that Alex would be too tired to fit us in. I’d sort of assumed that getting exhausted for a limited time when on a book launch tour (a short one in this instance) is an occupational hazard that authors grit their teeth and put up with. Just like I do as I drag myself out of bed at four to catch a train.

For myself I don’t mind this time, but would have preferred not to be strung along for weeks. I feel for my young interviewers, though. ‘Will definitely’ looks bewilderingly much like a promise.

12 responses to “Exhaustion

  1. It’s quite sadening to read this as most writers I know would be only too happy to put aside some time for this kind of interview and chat – and if for some reason found themselves unable to go through with it at the last minute, would at least have the courtesy to let you know, rather than taking you for a ride as Alex seems to have done.

    It would be nice to reach a stage where I have a publicist to handle my events diary but if it happens I hope I don’t lose touch with reality and become a complete and utter ‘b’.

  2. So sorry to hear about this, Ann! I hope it wasn’t who I think it was…😦

  3. “I’d sort of assumed that getting exhausted for a limited time when on a book launch tour (a short one in this instance) is an occupational hazard that authors grit their teeth and put up with. ”

    Absolutely. It’s often hard but it’s part of the job. Unless someone is ill (though usually you just grit teeth even harder as calling off means letting too many people down. Or, as someone I know did, open car door, throw up, then drive on to awaiting school clutching sick bag.)Wasn’t Mr Gaiman a classy example of grace under pressure?

  4. Damian – You’re a boy, so can’t really become a ‘b’.

    Caroline – What can I say?

    Julie – I often think back to the absolute calm that Neil emitted, to the extent that he made me feel less jittery. And then I read in his journal how tired he’d been getting, which I’m sure is the truth. He made me feel as if he had chosen to be there with us.

    In fact, when I saw Budge Wilson last year, she felt so bad she wasn’t sure she could stay for long, but once I’d assured her she could dash anytime she needed to, she was fine.

    And anyone undergoing chemotherapy or needing to be in hospital, can only say so.

    What makes me most nervous is being let down by trains. If I’ve ever seemed over calm or generally weird with anyone, I’ve probably drugged myself to the hilt, to make it through the day. (I mean weirder than usual.)

  5. I agree about trains. I am always far more nervous about getting to an event than I am about speaking to hundreds of people. You hate to let people down!

    Maybe in this case it was the gatekeeper rather than the author who made the decision?

    My advice: Strike while the iron is hot and ask for an email interview! How can he or she refuse?

  6. Whoever it was should be ashamed of messing you about (and so should their publicist). School visits and scheduled interviews are pretty much sacrosanct and unbreakable unless you are very nearly approaching death, in my book, especially if you are actually ‘on tour’. One author of my acquaintance recently did one despite snow and half the teachers in the school not being there–they had a fab time doing creatively snowy things and all the kids loved it. If s/he was so tired, they could at least have done a phone interview with you. I agree with Caroline. Get in with an email interview–if you can be b for bothered that is!🙂 PS I think your W is shining and untarnished by any hint of B by the way.

  7. Sorry for any delay here. I’ve been SO busy polishing the ‘w’ all afternoon.

    Alex offered a phone interview from the word go, but ungrateful soul that I am it’s not what I want. When I write about any of you (and there is a longer list than I have time), I want to be able to describe how your asparagus soup dribbled down your cerise stripey knee socks, and neither phone nor email gives away such delicious secrets.

    Maybe Alex has a witch phobia. That’s OK, but could have been mentioned early on. In case any of you want to meet me at the top of the Eiffel tower or something, I’ll tell you now I have very bad vertigo. I won’t list all my other phobias, but phones aren’t my most favoured things.

    I have a very high opinion of publicists on the whole. They have nearly always been helpful, and most reply instantly to emails. An email phobia would be a handicap in that kind of job.

  8. Damn, damn, damn. I KNEW I shouldn’t have let on about those cerise stripey knee socks. I shall now go off and blog happily and madly about vegetables. (exits stage left followed by a witchy cackle)

  9. havealittletalk

    Someone needs to have a little talk with this Alex creature. And that someone may as well be me. No one messes with the good bookwitch!

  10. I just retrieved some stripey cerise tights from the bin (Small Daughter getting more stylish). Big Daughter said ‘you’ll look like a witch – wear them the next time you see Korky Paul’. Happy to send them to the first person who requests them.

  11. Do you people have no taste? Cerise stripes? Honestly. Though I do believe I was inspired by Philip Pullman’s pink and jade green stripes. Suspect Philip’s weren’t knee socks or tights, though.

  12. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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