Yesterday was the day of my first-ever author interview. It was a taped interview for a cable show called The Literati Scene, hosted by Smoki Bacon and Dick Concannon, two prominent Bostonians in their early eighties. The set for the TV show is the the living room of their elegant condominium across the street from the Boston Public Gardens at the foot of Beacon hill.
I took the Green Line to the Arlington T stop and walked along the outside of the Public Gardens to their house. It was a bright but frigid February day, and few people were out. I was decked out it my best version of what I thought you should wear to a TV interview: dress, scarf and make-up, inexpertly applied. I felt strangely alone without my sister, the book’s illustrator, who had accompanied me to the last two book events, our launching at the Grolier and a book talk and signing at the Boston Athenaeum. I suppose it is more common for a book to have a single parent, but this book has two: me and my sister. It is a rare gift to have another person in the world with the same emotional investment in a book, a collection of bound pages that confer on you the name of author.
The walls in Smoki and Dick’s living room were lined with oil paintings, mostly landscapes. We stood admiring their latest acquisition, a view of Boston from the water during the great fire of 1872. Orange flames in murky darkness. Dick tended a small fire in their fireplace. My book was propped on the wooden mantelpiece like a Greek vase. In front of the fire were two low, upholstered benches where Dick and I would sit for the interview.
Smoki operated the camera while Dick asked me questions and I answered cheerfully, like an eager school girl giving a report. I tried to look at the camera, as instructed, even though Dick was sitting beside me. Every now and then Smoki made gestures with her small, elegant hand to remind me. And so the ten short minutes passed.
When the interview was over, I was invited to sit on an easy chair and sign my book. Smoki, Dick and I chatted about Greece, Boston and children until I had used up my little interlude of welcome in their timeless living room with the birch logs burning. This was my initiation as a Boston literata.