UK Talk Radio

Massive radio fan as I am, it was a great to be asked to record an interview with Geoff Carter of UK Talk Radio. He asked me how I got started as a writer, where that led, and about my debut novel, The Chicken Soup Murder. 

Geoff Carter and Maria Donovan recording an author interview for UK Talk Radio

There are just two chances to listen. Both are Listen Live only! There will be no opportunity to listen again.

The interview goes out on Thursday 27 December 2018 between 12 noon and 1 pm approximately. The second chance to hear the interview is the following Sunday, 30 December.

Suggestion is to tune in from 11.45 to 13. 15 – although as it’s online there will be no twiddling of dials. Instead, please follow the link https://uktalkradio.org/listen-live-to-uk-talk-radio/ at the appointed time.

Chatting on after the interview

Here follows a list of 10 tips for talking on the radio: you might like to compare my aspirations and intentions with the result and let me know what you think!

1. Remember to smile. It makes your voice sound brighter. Unless you want to sound like Jack Dee … but for once was not my aim.

2. Be prepared. If you don’t know what the questions are going to be, suggest something. Know how long the interview will be and have a listen to other author interviews by the same presenters to get a feel for the style and range of questions.

I find preparation soothing: it helps me feel more confident. Though I took the notes in with me just in case and laid them out on the table so there would be no rustling of paper, I didn’t need to look at them once!

Another thing I did was record my voice at home and listen back for any verbal tics, coughing, hums and ums etc.

3. Relax. Once you’re there, go with the flow. I thought I was going to be interviewed by Jonathan Hines but Geoff Carter and I had such a good chat beforehand that he did the interview instead. We didn’t get around to talking about the main topic I had prepared for, which was about how I had tried to write about such difficult subjects as bereavement and loss and still give the reader moments of warmth and humour. There was plenty to say and yet I think I learned that it’s up to you to:

4. Make your point. If there’s something you really want to get across do keep it in mind. The presenters just want to put out a great piece of radio – you might have additional objectives: like mentioning the title of your novel. I feel I owe it to The Chicken Soup Murder and all the hard work that went into it, not just from me, to stand up for it in public.

5. Don’t shout at the mic. They will ask you to say something to test for levels so sit comfortably in a position you can maintain for several minutes and talk in the way you’re going to talk and stick to that. It’s important to get this bit right (the mic looks huge and they like you to be almost kissing it so pull your seat close and be comfy).

6. Keep going. If you stumble or say something completely wrong just wait a second and carry on. If it’s really terrible they might edit it out of a recording and if it’s live don’t worry about it. Everyone fluffs sometimes.

Another thing you might have to do is carry on talking in what is not exactly a natural situation. Although Geoff was a great interviewer he had to look at his screen from time to time and it felt odd to keep speaking as if we were still making eye contact. I expect you get used to that.

7. More preparation! Some physical preparation is helpful. You can warm up your voice, do breathing exercises to calm you down and help you focus, whatever you need.

Practicalities: have a bottle of water with you just in case and take sips beforehand to avoid a dry throat. I also had some throat sweets in my bag in case a tickle needed soothing before recording started.

Make sure your clothes are comfy and presentable (there will be photos) – or whatever else your image dictates. I like to decide on a full outfit beforehand and get it ready so I don’t have to think about it on the day.

8. Travel planning: also very important. You want to get there on time, but not too early. Definitely not late! Last minute hiccups before leaving home and traffic and transport hold ups wiped out a generous margin for delays.

I arrived 15 minutes before the recording was due to start, which was perfect, in this case, as it fitted their instructions. I had a few minutes to collect myself and breathe (etc) before the pre-interview chat.

9. Enjoy it. The way I do that is to commit whole-heartedly to the experience and to go with it.

As it turned out, I surprised myself by saying a few things in the recording I hadn’t mentioned to Geoff: how some years ago my husband nearly killed me when I was making chicken soup and I told him I would write about it one day (this is not a spoiler); how I didn’t know what to do with the story I had promised to write about that incident, until long after my husband died of mesothelioma – hence some of the novel’s observations of grieving and loss. I hadn’t planned on being so personal – but in the moment it just came out.

10. Learn from the experience. I learned not only a bit more about radio and recording, but also I learned something about myself and my novel.

The Chicken Soup Murder is narrated by a young boy struggling to prove that his neighbour has been murdered. It has much to do with responses to death: natural, accidental and unlawful. My husband died of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The anger I felt that he was robbed of so many years of life was definitely a motivation for wanting to write about an injustice.

If you have a chance to listen to the recording, please drop me a comment and let me know what you think!

I’d love to hear about your experiences of being interviewed: what you did to prepare, how it went, what you might do differently next time. Feel free to share a link in a comment, too.


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