We all have our demons, inner voices that tell us we are bound to fail. T. Thurai was forced to confront hers in a recent radio interview.

Addressing my inner demons: The Radio Interview

One Tuesday, I got an email telling me that I was being lined up to speak on a radio chat show the next day. At that point, I went into overdrive: writing notes, thinking of possible questions, rehearsing what I was going to say, re-reading everything I had written – website postings, press releases, synopses and blog items – in case I got caught out by a ‘curveball’ question. Anyone would have thought I was making a State of the Nation address. (Although, I’m sure Mr Obama does not agonise to the same degree).

The next day, I was still scribbling notes and my sheaf of ‘prompt’ papers had grown to the size of a short novella. The interview was to be broadcast live by telephone. More hysteria! Could I rely on the landline (which recently cut out for no reason during a phone call to my mother)? How did I exclude the external noise of traffic and wind-chimes? Would my adopted cat arrive mid-interview and start yowling for food? Would a friend, relative, marketing rep. phone just two seconds before the radio producer and deprive me of my three minutes of glory?

And there was one, even more terrible thought. Would I lose my voice? Would I fade out, struck dumb by my own, uncontrollable terror? Even worse, would I have a coughing fit? Would my pearls of wisdom be subsumed in an unseemly crescendo of gurgling and spluttering?

Comforting myself with the thought that there was still time to leave the country – or run away and live under a hedge (always my ‘go-to’ solution in times of stress) – I made a supreme effort to silence my nagging doubts and force myself to think practically.

A small downstairs room would be converted into a temporary studio, the wind-chimes would be taken down, all windows and doors would be firmly shut (despite a temperature of 28 degrees), the blinds would be pulled down (to stop the cat seeing me through the French windows) and my hard-pressed technical advisor/husband would be ordered to stop coughing, walking and possibly even breathing while I addressed the masses.

I had done everything possible to prepare myself, listening to the previous day’s programme and marvelling at the eloquence of its speakers – particularly a man from Harrietsham who did great work improving the public image of ferrets. (I had previously regarded them as a set of furious teeth attached to a tail with a propensity to run up postmen’s trousers. Now I want one!)

Sitting in my darkened, sound-proofed room I checked the yellow stickies posted at eye-level on various bits of furniture: my prompts for various key points and website addresses which I absolutely had to remember if nothing else. I then settled down to wait for The Call.

When it came, I nearly jumped out of my skin. As I waited, I listened to the song preceding my interview. (Alicia Keys’ “New York” is now inscribed on my sub-conscious!)

Then, all of a sudden, the interview began – and something miraculous happened. I not only kept control of my voice (albeit squeaky and high-pitched), I actually managed to make sense and understand the questions. I said everything I had intended and even told a racy story about one of the previous items on my blog (why do I always tell stories about people losing their trousers when I’m nervous?)

And I learned a valuable lesson. Interviews have very little to do with the ability of the interviewee. They depend entirely on the skill of the interviewer. Like a novice being taught to dance, I was guided around the airspace and, without knowing the steps, I found myself doing all the right things. It was not the kind of ‘slice and dice’ interview I had come to expect from national radio, but a surprisingly enjoyable experience. Guiding me to all the points I wished to make and prompting me when I faltered, Pat Marsh was a generous, kind and highly professional interviewer. I could not have wished for better. The only silence I suffer from as a result is a welcome one – the stilling of those small, nagging voices in my head that told me I could not do it!

Click here to listen to T. Thurai’s interview for the Pat Marsh Show.

Thanks to: Presenter Pat Marsh and his producer, Adam Dowling at BBC Radio Kent: 96.7 FM and 104.2 FM DAB

The Pat Marsh Show is billed as a “special mix of music, fun, showbiz and entertainment” and is broadcast every afternoon from Monday to Friday from 14.00 to 16.00 hours. Pat Marsh also hosts a programme from 6.00 a.m. to 10 a.m. every Saturday which features music from the 1960s and 1970s. Click here for Pat’s BBC Radio Kent home page.

Click here for more information about T. Thurai’s book The Devil Dancers.