I love that authors can be so multitalented, such an interesting bunch, today I have Vanda Symon sharing what she does when she isn’t writing.
Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand… Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…
Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…
Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.
Confessions of a reluctant radio chick.
I have a complete inability to say no. Every time I think, just say no, Vanda, the ‘y’ word seems to slip out of my mouth. I have even tried practising in front of the mirror, but to no avail, if it comes to saying no, I’m a definite, er, no.
But, sometimes amazing things come out of a hesitant and very nervous ‘yes.’
Fifteen years ago if you had said to me hey, guess what, one day you’ll be producing and hosting a radio show I’d have laughed hysterically and asked if you’d been on the turps a bit early in the day. But life has this funny little habit of throwing interesting things my way.
Another writer had pitched the idea of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors having a regular programme on the local Community Access Radio station, and we all thought it was a fabulous idea, especially as she was prepared to give it a whirl. Then, after securing a sponsor and all lights green for go… she had a job come up in another city and skived off. Someone had to be brave and step into the breach, and that someone was me. I was utterly petrified.
As it turned out, it was one of the best things that could have ever happened for me. Boy, did it open up a world of opportunities.
First of all, it forced this introvert to get out there on a public platform and find her voice. The wonderful thing about learning this on radio was that it was me in a cosy studio with a guest. I could just imagine that it was the two of us having a nice chat, and there was no one else listening. Over time it got easier, and ultimately it gave me the self-confidence to feel happy doing public speaking – very useful for an author!
I have also had the privilege of interviewing many fascinating people. I never appreciated the amazing range of writing being done in my city. Over the years I have talked to writers of all genres of fiction, children’s authors, biographers, memoirists, non-fiction writers, poets, academic writers, publishers, illustrators, book-sellers, photographers, festival organisers, librarians, editors, publicists and book lovers – pretty much anyone involved in the book world. And for some shameless name dropping – I’ve also nabbed some pretty cool visiting international guests – Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Annie Proulx, Diana Gabaldon. I almost got to interview R.J. Ellory, but the portable recording equipment failed and I almost electrocuted him – oops.
The skill of being able to interview people has also lead to opportunities chairing panels at festivals and interviewing some very cool international authors at public events, such as Kathy Reichs, Ian Rankin, and Greg Hurwitz. (Yup, more shameless name dropping.)
I had to learn the technical elements of producing a radio show and operating the sound board, which means that when I am live on air I am basically running the station…oh, the power! You learn how to think on your feet – what to do on live radio when your guest is a one-word answerer, or your guest is the complete opposite and likes to take the scenic route to tell a story. You learn to stay calm under pressure, especially when there are technical glitches and you are doing live radio. It is a wonderfully enriching experience, and best of all, it’s a lot of fun.
I always read the books of people I am interviewing, and it has been fascinating learning new things about topics I would normally never have read about. It has forced me out of my comfort zone and opened up new worlds of knowledge and opportunity. Hosting the radio show has been utterly brilliant! I’ve even won an award or two – who’d have thought from those very nervous beginnings.
So for any of you who have been contemplating doing a spot of podcasting, or a radio show – do it! Boldly say the ‘yes’ word – believe me, it will enrich your world.
You can listen to podcasts of Vanda’s shows on Otago Access Radio here:
Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.