January 12th 2009
Well it’s been a week since I tendered my application for the artistic director post for a literary festival and so far nothing heard. Not a surprise as I assume that they’ve been inundated with hopefuls. I certainly hope so, it’s a good festival and it deserves the luxury of selecting from a wide range of applicants.
Extended unemployment plays havoc with one’s self-confidence and I’m in a strange gloaming, nervous that I won’t be called for an interview and yet more so that I might. It’s been a good few years since I’ve had to formally apply for a job and to be honest I worry that I’ve lost the skill, if I ever had it. It’s also a very long time since I had to attend a job interview so if any of you have current tips do let me know. Perhaps you’ll also keep your fingers crossed for me as I really want this job, would relish the challenge and believe that I could be of benefit to the festival.
Silence in that particular area can be set against an unexpected invitation from another for an altogether different sort of interview. I’ve received an email from a production assistant at BBC Radio 4 inviting me to be a guest on “A Good Read”. It’s a programme I listen to and enjoy greatly and Kate Mosse, the hugely successful author of Labyrinth and Sepulchre, is hosting this season’s run. Actually I can’t quite believe that I’ve been invited, it’s such an honour.
I know Kate well and admire her enormously having interviewed her for radio on a number of occasions, both in her authorial capacity and also as the co-founder and honorary director of the Orange Prize for Fiction that has done so much for fiction by women from around the world. I feel strangely uncomfortable stating that line ‘fiction by women’, to me it seems so redundant these days, but that’s what the prize was set up for and with a roster of winners which includes Valerie Martin, Ann Patchett, Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Rose Tremain to name but a selection, it has really achieved what it set out to do and is very much a force for good. Perhaps one day, when I’ve grown up, I’ll get to be a male judge if they ever have such a thing. (I’m forty-six years old as I write that line, there’s time aplenty!)
It will be odd to be on the other side of the desk, I’m not at all sure that my experience as a broadcast interviewer will make me a good interviewee. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest not. Still, off I will go, proudly to Broadcasting House on the 27th of this month to discuss my views on my chosen ‘good read’ and those of Kate Mosse and the other - as yet unknown – guest.
What’s my choice? You’ll have to wait and see. A couple of my first thoughts were covered by earlier guests so while choosing a shortlist of three was relatively easy, the process of deciding on one is proving engagingly tough. I’m veering toward the small but perfectly formed so it may not be a full-blown, pocket-bursting, brick of a novel. It will be a damn good read though, that I promise.
So there we have it, a former interviewer turned interviewee now waiting for one interview while being interviewed in another interview by a former interviewee turned interviewer. Enjoy the views.