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Some writers are shy, retiring creatures who like nothing better than to remain in their dusty attics hunched over their latest masterpiece shunning the limelight.
Forced to come blinking into the daylight and real, commercial world, they mumble in self-effacing fashion when interviewed about their literary endeavours and scuttle back to their desks the moment that nasty centre-of-attention stuff is over.
I am not one of those.
For me, writing the books is the grim, time-consuming, frustrating, drink-too-much-and-pull-your-hair-out part of the proceedings. The lovely bit is when it’s all over, you’ve been hugging the final, finished, published copy all day and you can get out there and start talking about it.
I adore being interviewed, photographed, recorded, filmed and generally having my every word hung upon – even though the end result is invariably a picture/videotape/soundtrack where I look twenty stone, have three chins and sound like Pollyanna on speed.
When Perfect Alibis came out, with its shout line: How to have an affair and get away with it. (if you’re interested it has some hot tips!), it got quite a lot of media attention. An article in The Sun led to an invitation to go on Trisha (I didn’t in the end) and an appearance on Kilroy (which was an experience). I have also been on:
- The Salon
- Ready, Steady, Cook
- Loose Lips
- The Politics Show
- The Wright Stuff
- Women in Property
- Legal TV
- Just for Starters
- The Russell Grant Show
- Inside Out and
- The Heaven and Earth Show where I debated “Is Monogamy overrated?”
(For the answer – read Perfect Alibis!)
READY STEADY COOK was enormous fun. I went on with my lovely friend, the novelist Lynne Barrett-Lee. I stood there chopping broccoli and wielding the cheese-grater with as much aplomb as I could muster considering I can’t cook, listening to Lynne making various erudite pronouncements on the role of the writer and her route to success. When it was my turn, I managed to say “nipple”, giggle inanely and almost cut my finger off. I had chef Tony Tobin (not literally, you understand) and Lynne was with Phil Vickery. They were both great and Ainsley Harriott is Gorgeous (I would – definitely!). When in doubt, we were told to wine or wipe. In other words, mop at the surfaces or pour a drink. The food was wonderful but by the time the cameras stopped, I could barely stand.
Other programmes have not gone so smoothly. I thought I was going to get slapped on KILROY and I will spare you the details of the BBC three documentary where I had to sit in the bath and shave my legs. THE SALON was a bit of a let-down too. I wanted to dye my hair pink, cappuccino, orange and black to celebrate my book jacket but “John” took one look at my head and said “Nah.”
I tried several different ploys but having bleach put on top of henna, he insisted, would make my hair go green and fall out. This would make gripping television, I suggested. But he wasn’t having it. Instead, I was shown for about three nano seconds having my hair dried. Friends loyally watching, blinked and missed it.
THE HEAVEN AND EARTH SHOW was better even though I managed to smash a large piece of crystal on the opening display about three seconds before the (live) recording started (oddly, they haven’t asked me back). JUST FOR STARTERS was slightly problematic as I chose to demonstrate perfect mashed potatoes and they came out like bullets, and I once nearly choked to death on BBC Radio Leicester.
But generally – just in case any producers are listening – I’m a natural with a mike, honest. 🙂
Jane has presented for the BBC on both radio and TV, and is a member of Equity.
A prolific speaker, (the sound of her own voice being a particular pleasure ☺), Jane also works the after-dinner circuit, talks to writers groups and conferences, and has worked as a celebrity speaker on P&O’s cruise ship, Arcadia. She has hosted the Romance Novelists’ Association’s RoNas – the annual awards for the best in Romantic Fiction – for the last two years, and presents events at the Guildford Book Festival each year.
As an interviewer/chair, she has presented panels and been “in conversation with” dozens of authors and personalities including Julian Clary, Richard Madeley, Jenny Éclair, Helen Lederer, Amanda Ross, Victoria Hislop, Bel Mooney, Irma Kurtz, Lucy Mangan, Steve Furst, Tim Bentinck, Kay Burley, Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell, Mavis Cheek, Penny Vincenzi and Kate Mosse.