Appearances Can Be Deceptive by Debbie Bennett

Not too sure why I'm sharing a name with Tina Rath!
This past month I've been "appearing"! On radio, in public, attending events, doing book signings - I almost feel like a celebrity. Around this time last year, I was gadding around the country on the White Witch book and DVD tour. This year, I've been out and about too. Is it the time of year, maybe? Or just co-incidence?

Towards the end of September, I was in Nantwich at a writers' event. I blogged about it last month. As a result of that, I was invited to visit Radio Northwich - a local independent digital radio station - to talk about my books and my writing. So in early October, with much trepidation, I arrived at the radio station above a small shop in town and met my host Jeff Stuart. Five minutes later we were live on air! Now I hate the sound of my own voice (yes, I know that might be hard to believe for those who know me...) and I was dreading the idea of headphones, so I turned it all off and just chatted with Jeff instead. There happened to be a microphone in front of me, but who cares about little things like that? We even had a live text-in; that's a phone-in but by text instead, as I didn't entirely trust some of my friends, not to think up all the ways they could embarrass me live on radio!

It was fun. I'd do it again. And I'm amazed they actually had my somewhat eclectic play-list. Alice Cooper, anybody? You can listen to it here, should you be so inclined.

And a couple of weeks ago, I was at the British Fantasy Society's annual FantasyCon. I used to run these events way back in the when, but I haven't been for the past few years as I can't justify the expense - even if it is just about tax-deductible! But this was in Chester, which is pretty much on my doorstep, so I commuted Friday and stayed over just the Saturday night. And The Alchemy Press launched The Alchemy Press Book of Horrors, in which I have a (rather long) short story, so we had another book signing. And artist Jim Pitts brought all the story banners he'd drawn for each of us and we got first option on buying them too.

But getting back to the title of this blog - appearances can be deceptive. I don't know whether it's a sign of age, but I don't have the confidence I once had for these kind of things. One of the advantages of maturity is that I stopped actually caring what people thought some time ago, but that doesn't make it any easier. I find it increasingly hard to make small talk at events these days, especially when a part of me wonders if people know who I am anyway. Going alone doesn't help - Andy doesn't share my interest in writing or writing-related things - and I always dread the whole going-to-hotel-breakfast-alone thing. I'm an extroverted introvert and sometimes I have to work so hard at it.

So I hide things as best I can. Dress to impress and then act the part. I don't know if it ever really works, but I have to try, don't I? Otherwise I'd just turn into a hermit and never go out at all.


Griselda Heppel said…
Hats off to you for feeling the fear... and doing it anyway. As you say, life would be dull and frustrating if one succumbed to the temptation of I'd Really Rather Not - and you are obviously good at appearing at conferences, on radio etc, putting everyone else at their ease and generally creating a nice, chatty atmosphere, which is KEY. Congratulations on ALL your appearances, deceptive or not (and they clearly are).
I've got myself interviewed 2 or 3 times on BBC Radio Oxford and been absolutely terrified each time, but knew that if I bailed out I'd beat myself up something rotten for having forfeited a perfectly good publicity opportunity. Television is even scarier, which means That's Oxford TV's relatively small audience share comes as rather a relief, all things considered! Still, onward and upward...
Umberto Tosi said…
... You should lead a support group for promotionally challenged authors, of which I am a longtime member. I admire how you put yourself on the line despite your distaste for chummy tour events. I hate small talk myself, though maybe because I'm terrible at it. Or maybe it's the other way around. I'm told the secret is to draw out the other person - show interest, etc. - but I get tongue tied doing that too, given my upbringing. My parents dourly discouraged "prying," and "asking too many questions." etc. Ha ha. In any event, Good luck with White Witch - sounds like another winner!
janedwards said…
Getting out on the road is hard work but you're out there!

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