Every once in a while, I will get an odd message in my Instagram DMs. Most are odd in a bad sense, but this one seemed almost too good to be true. I was contacted by a producer for the BBC Radio 4 Book Club and invited to participate in a conversation with Tana French, for her book The Witch Elm (spelled The Wych Elm in the UK.)
Instantly my brow furrowed with confusion- why me? I know so many more Bookstagrammers (people on Instagram who primarily post about books and reading) with huge followings that I would call on first for the opportunity over me. That's not me being modest- I don't focus my time on Instagram, but rather on YouTube and my follower numbers attest to that fact. The woman who reached out to me mentioned seeing a post where I spoke highly about the book and my enjoyment of her books. I was skeptical, but I have to admit to being thrilled by the opportunity, at the same time.
The process was that I was asked to submit some questions to them in advance of the show. They would then see who should be included based on the submissions. They would be including someone people in the call-in/live portion and others via recorded questions that would be played for her to respond to. (I assumed that I wouldn’t be included in the live program because of the time zone challenges from the West coast of the US and London. )
For privacy reasons, I didn't want to use my full name and asked if I could go by my first name and channel name, as in Sarah from Hardcover Hearts. but they said that they have a policy of not allowing what could be perceived as advertisement. I was bummed, but fair enough.
I reread the book to familiarize myself with it and was reminded of how timely it was for the discussions of the "# Me Too" movement, but with a male narrator at the center. I had more questions than I felt was appropriate to send, so I whittled them down to a set few that asked if her purpose was intentional social commentary, one about about the narrator and his reliability and the last question about the choices of the family members as secondary characters.
I heard back that they did indeed want me to participate via recording, and asked me to send an audio file of me asking each of the questions. It was quite humorous that on the day I needed to do this, there was so much street noise that I had to hide myself in my closet to get a clear recording. **
On the Sunday that it aired, I got up at 6 am, and listened online to the live broadcast from London. I was not guaranteed that my question would be aired, so I was hoping for the best, but expecting the worst to keep myself in check. Being raised in Southern Africa in the late 70s/early 80s, the BBC was always on in our home. We didn't have television, so the BBC felt like a beacon and a trusted source for information. To think that I even had the opportunity to participate was enough to have made my day. But I did really want to hear myself on the show.
And when I heard that the next question would come from Sarah in Berkley, CA, I almost inadvertently woke my husband in excitement. It actually happened! A dream I couldn't have even imagined actually came true.
And here is the episode, if you are so inclined to listen:
(My question is at 16:10 in the broadcast, though I think it is a good interview to listen to all of it, if you have the time)
** (Though my mother said that my question was the least clear of them all, which made me laugh. You can't win every time, apparently!)