Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fuckity Fuck All The Way From Collingwood To Kensington

So what happened was, I saw a post for an online magazine looking for new writers. I thought what the hell, I'll give it a go. I had just joined the Yawp family and the Warhol's Children family, both editors apparently very keen for more of my stuff. I needed this because I have been unemployed for a while now and had been feeling pretty down, so this was good. At least I'm writing again, and funny stuff too.

So I see this call for submissions for Soot mag. The editor writes for Rolling Stone, Australian Penthouse and more and appears to be rock chick uber cool. The other contributors also seem pretty cool. I am not too worried by this because I have the runs on the board by now and think I have a chance, so I send some samples in and very quickly I get a positive response and am welcomed to the Soot family.

I am asked what I'd like to contribute first up. I had just receieved a press release saying that David Sedaris is coming out on tour, and I had just finished reading Max Barry's new novel Lexicon (fucking brilliant read). Max also has a Hollywood film coming out based on his first novel, Syrup. I say I wouldn't mind interviewing both these guys.

One thing leads to another, the Soot editor is remarkably well-connected and she makes the Max Barry interview happen. He wants to meet over a coffee at his local coffee shop - coincidentally a few doors down from a coffee shop The Dreaded One and I considered taking over a few months ago.

Thing is, I've gotten lazy lately and have only been doing email Q & A's. It's just easier to write up the questions and get them to do all the writing. I've done loads of phone interviews in he past but they are a bit of a pain, getting the words from the tape recorder (yes, I have an actual tape recorder) onto the computer. Also, I don't have a landline so recording isn't really possible.

Also, I feel out of practice, and when your confidence is taking a beating (plenty of resumes sent out, not many nibbles) you don't really want to interact with people.

And probably the biggest also, I haven't ever done a face to face interview. It seems ridiculous, but even after writing features about performers and writers for about 10 years now, I have never sat down with someone and interviewed them. I don't consider myself a confident, outgoing person, and surely you need to be both these things to do face-to-face interviews.

Weirdly, I find myself thinking what the hell and agree to meet one of my current favourite novelists in person. I test out my tape recorder and it makes pretty lousy recordings. It's okay when hooked up to the phone line but crap when it just sits there taking in ambient recording. My phone, on the other hand, is brilliant. How good are phones? Is there anything they can't do?

I'm about to do a new thing. I think you put up fake barriers when you've put something off for long enough. I think I really felt I'd be awkward and awful at face-to-face interviews. I'm not a professional. I have no training. I don't have this particular skill.

But I decided not to bother thinking this way. I've had no training in any kind of writing, have never done a single writing course, yet here I am 10 years later still getting away with it. Besides, it's not going to air. We're just going to chat exactly like we would if it was a phone interview, and they are easy. Time for a new experience, to learn a new skill.

I'd like to say it all went smoothly... well it did, aside from the fact that I was late for the interview. This is a writer with five highly regarded novels under his belt, film options on all of his books and a big screen version of one of them out in the Northern hemisphere now, out here later in the year, he's agreed to meet me for a chat, and I miss my tram and stuff up my train connection so that the next train arrives in 20 minutes and I am due to be at the cafe in less than 15 minutes. You are supposed to arrive at these things early to test your recorder and just make damn sure you don't keep the interviewee waiting. Thus the title of this blog post.

Standing on the platform, I realise that the next train, due in two minutes, is going to North Melbourne, with Kensington being the train station after that (but this train is not going on to Kensington). Rather than wait the 20 minutes for this train, I'll go to North Melbourne and catch a cab from there. There must be a cab rank at North Melbourne Station.

There is no cab rank at North Melbourne station. There is nothing at North Melbourne station. There is a busy road a few minutes walk away which I could walk to and hope that a cab comes by... and that might happen immediately or not at all. I have so little time left that if I commit to this plan it will need to happen immediately. I can't risk it. I have to go back and wait for the Kennsington train and just accept that I am going to be late for my first face-to-face with a reasonably important person. I am such a fuck up.

In the end, I am 15 minutes late and Max is texting his agent to get my number to find out what is going on as I walk in the door. I apologise, and thankfully, he seems chilled and not too pissed off. I set up the phone recorder, and we start talking and it seems to go all right after all. 45 minutes later we finish things off and after much indecision I ask if he would mind signing my copy of Lexicon. I need to ask someone about this - when interviewers interview famous people, is it accepted or frowned upon as being uncool to ask them to sign things? I don't know such things because I just don't hang around with journos. I am a lone wolf, a loose cannon... or just a bit of a twat.

Anyway, I thought I'd rather regret being a bit of a twat and have my signed copy than regret having the opportunity of getting a signed copy and not taking it. He seemed pretty cool about it.

You can read the finshed piece here at Soot Mag. Looking forward to doing more with them. I think both they and Warhol's Children might be doing something with my 17 Stories Of Love & Crime. Stay tuned.

I still haven't got a job but I did sign up with an agency and worked all last week and I think there is more coming up next week. It will be very nice to be working again. Nicer still to have our own cafe. And I really am enjoying having current writing out there again. These three editors have been really cool and enthusiastic. Soot even posted something the other day telling everyone who had submitted samples to be patient as they'd had hundreds of applicants, but here I am with my first piece live, and my bio up there with the other contributors. Happy pants.


isabelle said...

Wow wee! That's absolutely brilliant lee!!
I am completely impressed, well done !
I'm imagining great things for you.

Lee Bemrose said...

Thank you Isabelle. I think it's too late for great things. I'll settle for pretty good things. But thank you.