Sunday, 15 July 2012

How not to talk on the radio

No one gives you media training if you're a writer, so I thought I'd share the mistakes I made on Women's Hour, BBC radio Manchester, ALL FM and EL FM.

1. Don't expect the actual interview to be anything like the discussion you had with the producer. It won't be. Producers want to find out as much as they can about your work; they will ask nice open questions so you will feel at ease. In an interview, the point is getting an angle so the questions won't be as nearly as nice, especially on radio 4.

2. If the interviewer starts widening her eyes at you, it means 'SHUT UP' so she can ask you another question. Don't under any circumstances pause and then ask 'excuse me?' which I did on Women's Hour.

3. Do copy politicians on the Today programme: go in with a sound bite, and get it in, no matter what they ask. Michelle Green, who was on Women's Hour with me, did that with a quotation, and it was probably the best part of the interview.

4. Make sure you mention the name of your publisher or where the book is available. I completely forgot to do this on BBC radio Manchester. 

5. If you are shortlisted for a prize, remember to mention it too, which I forgot to do on EL FM.

6. In general, they will always always ask if the book is about you. If it isn't, they won't understand how it is possible to write anything not about yourself. You will have to think of a reason for not writing a book all about yourself and defend this terrible action. If your book is all about yourself, you are going to have to make a full confession about your life. Remember, interviewers aren't interested in the book; they want the human story.

7. Make sure you know exactly where your book came from. If in doubt, invent an amusing anecdote about when you had your first inspiration. This always goes down well. My long explanations of the origins of The War Tour were dull and probably brought on the 'eye widening' moment.

8. If you have a cold or cough, like I had on WH, don't worry; the adrenelin of being on the radio will make your cough magically disappear. Do sip a hot toddie in the studio. No one will know.

9. If you can bear it, listen to yourself afterwards. I have never done this. If I did I'd probably never get out of bed again. But it might have improved my interviews.

10. If you can organise it, do local or community stations first; the interview will be more relaxed and friendlier. My interviewers on ALL FM and ELFM were warm and supportive and lovely.In fact, community radio, I salute you!

11. Don't worry too much if your tights have a massive hole in them, like mine had for EL FM. It's the radio.

12. Make sure you ask reliable friends who are good at lying to listen in and tell you how amazing it was. Don't not tell anyone and then go home feeling sorry for yourself (yes I did this).

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Edge Hill Prize and Other Stories

Well I'm very excited to be shortlisted for the 2012 Edge Hill Prize for the short story. The awards do is tomorrow at the Free Word Centre in London (if you follow Free Word on twitter they DM you a word!). I'm all ready to go. Booked my train. I have, till it rains, extremely smooth hair. I'm looking forward to meeting AJ Ashworth, Sarah Hall, Rowena Macdonald and Tessa Hadley and drinking lots of wine with them. There's more about the shortlist here.

'A startling good collection of stories by a confident writer. Reading it is like taking a masterclass in how to do it well.' Mslexia (buy issue 54 here)

It isn't online but here are some reviews that are:

'Lambert's collection presents a carefully balanced picture of the world's combat zones... The writing is disarmingly plain and to-the-point... a kind of narrative ambush... I'd recommend that you read these.'The Guardian

'Reading 'The War Tour' is like wandering through a labyrinth of the unexpected, full of marvellous things... Lambert gazes into the abyss and does not flinch.' - 3:AM Magazine.

'Poignantly portraying the everyday loves, losses, strengths and sacrifices of those living with war, The War Tour depicts trauma, horror and confusion alongside defiance, duty and survival, all in quiet, compelling language that resonates long beyond the final page.' - For Books' Sake.

what makes this book special is the warmth and care that is shown to the real people in the stories and her determination not to judge or take sides.  War is not something that happens a long way away or a long time ago, it happens to the people you meet every day in Manchester and Salford or any other City. Lancashire Writing Hub

'it is the level of research, the desire to bring to light hidden, forgotten or sidelined stories of war, and the willingness to showcase her writerly concerns that form the basis of Lambert’s personal hallmark. The effect can be polemic.' Real Time Short Stories

'The War Tour begins and ends with a flourish... surprising and very well written.'Keeper of the Snails blog