I’m unsure what the highlight of being asked onto BBCRadio Kent to talk about the Life Assistance Agency was, but it wasn’t tapping the producer lightly to request water. The aim was to not disturb her in case she was on air, but it resulted in her leaping into the air squawking while clutching her chest, as I hastily explained that I’d been attempting to get her attention without disturbing her. Thankfully she didn’t accidentally slide a fader down and bring Thursday night’s Drive Time with Dominic King prematurely off air.
Writing a novel doesn’t prepare you for LIVE radio interviews. In fact it prepares you for very little; not even writing another novel, which feels like swinging across a room using nothing but cotton threads. I had an ale in the pub next door for medical purposes, and it took admirable restraint to not tell the bartender that I was half an hour away from my radio debut, the radio which I had to describe to my 5 year old as being TV but without pictures.
I’d been given some good advice: no ‘uuummms’, don’t swear, and no alcohol in the studio – it’s the not the 1970s. Don’t swear was the most popular advice, while my own internal voice kept muttering ‘don’t slag off Royal Tunbridge Wells’ like it knew I might, despite never having had a bad word to say about the place for most of my life. I was also careful not to drink the previous night; the best place for a hangover is on the sofa, not on the radio.
Also, despite having seen numerous Teenager Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers on the school run, I restrained from accusing some parents of being too stupid to discern between characters from books and the Nickelodeon channel
Because it was World Book Day I was going to arrive dressed as a writer, but thought pyjamas would be too much even for radio. It was appropriate to be asked in for World Book Day as Dr. Dee, the historical character of my novel, would have been a keen supporter. Even in 1580 he had considerably more books than children, in an age when this was unheard of. Sadly there are homes in which this remains the case today. As I say in my novel, he was a man in desperate need of a Kindle, needing an entire wagon to transport his books around Europe while his family often walked.
The interview took place on the Drive Time show, as if Kent drivers didn’t have enough rush hour hardships to contend with. My father took this so literally that he sat in the car to listen in. It seemed fitting. The interview went surprisingly well, and I was made very welcome by Dominic King, although I’m sure there’s a word in radio for guests’ best anecdotes appearing off air. He kindly took a photo of us afterwards, in which I missed the promotional opportunity of holding my book, while appearing to have been recently heavily sedated.
I can be heard here – at 2 hours 25 minutes:
And my debut novel as chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent can be bought here: