I have a lot to thank twitter for. As a new author I have explored several marketing routes. Facebook was almost useless. It seems more useful for maintaining established contacts rather than making new ones. My attempts to be ‘friends’ with people who also write, who read books and who are ‘in the trade’ sometimes fell on deaf ears. After not very long I was blocked from further requests for a week.
Twitter, however, enables a writer to ‘follow’ others and that simply acts as a hook to ask people to look at your work. If they choose not to, so be it, but it doesn’t end up with your twitter account blocked.
At the same time there are journalists, presenters and people from a similar background looking for interesting people to talk to and stories to write. One place they look is twitter. A couple of weeks ago, presenter found author, and within a week I was chatting on the telephone to a BBC researcher prior to being invited to speak on the radio.
Louise Elliott is an established BBC Radio Wales presenter who now has her own afternoon show. It is a very good show and she entertains some very interesting people. Tom Jones was on a fortnight before me and Max Boyce the week before.
Louise wanted to talk about how my PTSD treatment had given rise to the novel. I have to confess to being nervous as I made the drive up to Cardiff. I was outside my comfort zone having never before been in a radio studio. I need not have worried. A space in the car park was reserved for me, security was expecting me, and after being issued with a pass I was led to the studio by Holly, Louise’s assistant.
I sat with the crew at first and through a screen could see Louise in the studio, headphones on, interviewing Thomas Howes, an actor from Downton Abbey who is now touring with the ‘Mousetrap. company. Thomas was a very interesting man to interview and spoke very eloquently. Louise gave me a wave, Holly offered me a cup of BBC tea. I decided to decline, having heard what Terry Wogan had to say about that tea.
Half past three approached, my scheduled time. I could hear the crew asking Louise to wind up but Thomas was in full flow. In the event he over ran by nearly ten minutes and even the BBC news was delayed.
At 2.40 I entered the studio. Louise and I had a brief chat while a record was playing. She was lovely and very apologetic for the delay and the fact that it was going to reduce my time on air. I wasn’t at all worried until she said that she really wanted to concentrate on the writing from PTSD rather than other anecdotes that I had emailed to her as part of her research.
I understood that time was limited but as all that have PTSD will testify to, talking about the experiences that caused the condition can trigger fast and overwhelming emotional reactions. Within a few moments, the record was fading and Louise was introducing me. It was a strange experience, we were just two people chatting. There was no perception that we were broadcasting to, possibly, millions of people.
We chatted about the incidents that had caused my PTSD and how, unable to talk about them without becoming emotional, I had been asked by my counsellor to write notes to use at treatment sessions. In the sidio, I very quickly found myself sweating and starting to heat up. My heart rate increased and I experienced that sense of being out of my body that had occurred during treatment sessions. At one point I felt my voice start to crack and I took a deep breath. Louise seemed to sense my discomfort and moved the conversation on. In the event I was OK, I held myself together and kept talking.
We spoke for twelve minutes, so if Andy Warhol is correct, I still have three minutes of fame owed to me.
Later this month I am doing another interview with BFBS radio for the armed services. If it last three minutes I know I will have had my lot!
As I was about the depart, the weather presenter, Derek Brockway, came into the studio and read the weather report. I had a couple of spare copies of ‘Wicked Game’ with me and he asked me to sign one for him. It was an honour. Derek walked me to the foyer while we chatted about writing and the book. Later that evening Derek tweeted that he had met me and thanked me for signing a book for him.
I returned home and on checking my emails and texts I was amazed at the number of people I knew that had been listening to the radio and had heard the interview. I listened to the recording on the BBC website, fully expecting to cringe with embarrassment.
But, it wasn’t too bad. I sounded a bit like a soldier come policeman, but after 25 years doing just that I suppose that shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise.
For now, I’m going to continue to ride this wave until I fall off. I may be a novice surfer, but it’s a great wave, and I am enjoying the ride.