When called upon to do a talk I get to put on a business suit. Could that be considered glamorous? The event is often somewhere difficult to park and I struggle with my box of books, and I end up looking slightly harassed by the time I arrive. Or else it’s out on some distant hillside miles from the village it’s supposed to serve and my shoes are muddied by the time I get there. However, it’s always pleasing if the audience enjoy the talk and laugh at my anecdotes. Can that lady on the back row hear? Oh, she’s asleep, so that’s all right.
Is there glamour perhaps in playing at being a media star? In this, one is either interviewed live on the telephone, which is daunting but at least the interviewer doesn’t realise you’re wearing your slippers. Or else you get to go into a studio which is generally over-stuffy and rather shabby and you’ve got ten minutes at most in which to tell your life story, say what the book is about, why you wrote it and one or two funny anecdotes to fix it in the listener’s mind between the weather and the travel news.
Television is worse. The crew, usually one interviewer and a cameraman, spend hours in your house, filming you turning the pages of your book, or have you walking into your study again and again so they can film you from every possible angle, or up and down the street outside, or standing in a gale of wind to answer their questions. This endless toil results in a thirty second slot, mainly comprising a close up of your hands on the keyboard and a voice-over which might be yours, saying something inane about how important it is for you to write. At least they panned in on the row of books on the shelf, or added a bit of film connected to the period of the story.
In-depth interviews with newspaper journalists allows more time, but they often probe into the darker corners of your private life which you’d much rather keep closed. On occasions they start telling me about the novel they’re working on. I’ve even been asked if I mind being classed as a writer of romance, as if that were in some way demeaning. Next comes the photographer to take scintillating pics of you - and where does he choose? In your garden beside the pretty roses? Curled up in your cosy chair reading a book? Nope, at your computer, of course, where else? Not glam at all.
Real celebrities are generally leggy, blonde and beautiful, and sit in smart restaurants in dark glasses ordering lemon tea. So maybe that’s what I’m doing wrong, since I’m none of those things, can’t stand lemon tea and never even reached five foot.
But who needs glamour anyway, or fame and fortune? I love to write, so nothing else really matters. I’m cosy in my bunker, eyes glued to the screen, engrossed in my make believe world. And no one has come to take me away in a little yellow van yet. I chat with friends and readers on Facebook and Twitter, and I’m always humbled and thrilled when people email or message me to say how much they enjoy what I write, or tell me how a story has cheered or deeply moved them while they’ve been coping with difficult times. What more can I ask for than that?