I’ve been a published novelist for eight days. People keep asking me how I feel. Hmm, let’s see. I guess I feel like I can’t wear pajamas all the time anymore since every now and again I have to be seen in public For instance, last Monday I did an interview for WTNH’s Connecticut Style TV Show. Before the segment, my good friend, Brittain, called her friend who regularly appears on national TV for her job. She was nice enough to send me a list of helpful hints intended to make my appearance go more smoothly.
Unfortunately her suggestions terrified me. There wasn’t anything unreasonable on her list, such as speaking in a British accent to make myself sound smarter or answering questions with questions to keep the conversation going. On the contrary, she provided a thoughtful list of tips that would have benefitted someone more like Brittain (she’s sophisticated and has her s*** together). If I wanted someone more my speed to give advice, I probably should have asked Mama June of Honey Boo Boo fame. Anyway, included on the list were the following:
- Wear nude heels to elongate my leg. Um, let me back up here. The fact that I was a guest on a TV show called Connecticut Style is nothing short of ironic. If you’ve read my blog titled A Bright Orange Buoy in a Sea of Beautiful, you know that fashion isn’t my thing. Needless to say, nude heels do not live in my closet. They don’t even live in my imagination. My choices were pretty much black riding boots or pink flip flops.
- Wear a DVF dress. This one made my brain hurt. I grew up in the NASCAR world, so the only abbreviations I’m familiar with are STP and RPM. Oh, and NASCAR, I guess. I googled it, came up empty, and finally my friend Bobby filled me in. Turns out DVF doesn’t stand for Don’t Vomit, F***face (I thought maybe the dress was made of plastic), but Diane von Furstenberg.
- Don’t move my hands. No problem. I’m Italian, so I’ll stop talking with my hands right after I cut them off.
- Never, never, never look at the camera. I thought that would be easy until I got to the TV station and there were six cameras pointed at the set.
- Cross my legs at the ankle and point my knees away from the interviewer. I actually practiced this at home. Every time I hooked my feet together, my knees opened like I was a drunk girl at a frat party.
- Have a stylist meet me at my house an hour before departure time. Believe me, it takes more than an hour to make me look like a girl, which is why I never do. I pretended I didn’t even see that directive until I got to her last suggestion which was…
- Make sure a professional does my hair or I will look (and I quote) crazy on TV. At this point, I accepted defeat. Fortunately for me, I rock the crazy look.
So this is how Monday morning went: I dug a pair of plain black slides out of the bottom of my closet, wiped off the mud (they had clearly made a guest appearance at a horse show), and managed to find black pants that I wished were plastic because I was afraid I might poop myself. I styled my hair in the least crazy manner I could, rummaged for makeup, found dried up mascara, threw it away, settled for Chapstick in lieu lipstick, tried one more time to cross my ankles without looking like a hooker and then drove to New Haven.
I got there, met the lovely staff and waited my turn (still trying to master the ankle cross). Once I sat down with the beautiful and perfectly put together Teresa Dufour, I ran down the list of pointers Brittain’s friend had sent me. Positive I had committed everything to memory, I took my seat and a deep breath and was ready… right up until the cameras started recording and Teresa began asking questions I should have been able to answer without thinking about them.
As she was introducing me (even I was impressed with me after listening to her), I crossed my clunky slides, jammed my knees together in such a way that made my hips ache immediately, pointed said knees away from Teresa, swiveled my upper body so I could see her, craned my neck to make sure I wasn’t looking into any of the giant cameras staring at me and clasped my hands together so hard I thought I broke a finger.
Then the rapid-fire questions began. Okay, she spoke slowly and eloquently, I just couldn’t think fast enough to keep up with her. She started with an easy one: How did I make the transition from my past career to becoming a novelist. For once in my life, my filter wasn’t malfunctioning. I was thinking, I quit my last job because I F-ing hated it. But, I managed to say something politically correct (and true) about wanting to be home with my kids, and then having some time to write once they started school.
Next she asked if the book has any truth to it. Um, well, the main character, Jensen, is a tall, skinny, black-haired beauty who models in the nude for artists. Yeah, no. Just no.
A few questions later she asked if my own upbringing influenced the book being set on the Connecticut shoreline. I originally had the novel taking in Baltimore, but I caved to editor pressure and changed it to New England.
Although the interview only lasted five and a half minutes, it felt like five and a half hours. The best part of my time on camera was concentrating on Teresa’s pretty face since I wasn’t allowed to look anywhere else. At the end, I thanked her for having me on her fabulous show and sat beside the next guest. Feeling like it went better than it could have, I smiled at her, hoping for a little atta girl. She looked me up and down, then brought me back to reality by saying, “Next time you might want to smile. And take a Quaalude.”