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Best of the Book Nook: 2018 Nonfiction Interviews

Vick Mickunas

I took a listen back to some of my favorite interviews for non-fiction titles during 2018 and chose several that really stood out. When I picked segments for this re-broadcast I had a number of criteria to consider. The major considerations were these: did I love the book? Did I have a really good conversation with the author? And finally, was the sound quality good?

A couple of the interviews for my favorite books from 2018 were conducted by phone and the authors were using cell phones. I avoid cell phone interviews like the plague because they create so many audio flaws. In our modern world people have mostly gotten rid of their land-line telephones and now rely on their cell phones almost exclusively. I have had to turn down a number of interviews in recent years because the authors claimed they could not locate land-line phones to do the interviews. When an author is really, really famous I used to say, OK, I guess I'll just have to do the interview and pray it sounds acceptable. Unfortunately cell phone interviews always deliver sound glitches. Always.

In 2018 I decided I wasn't going to do any more interviews on cell phones. Perhaps you are wondering how I ended up doing some cell phone interviews anyway? Well, I called one author at her hotel to conduct an interview. I have a history with this writer. She's originally from our region and I have interviewed her for every one of her books. She writes fabulous books and she gives great interviews. Unfortunately she also seems to be enamored with her iPhone. The phone in her hotel room rang and rang. She never answered it. Then a few minutes later my cell phone rang. (Yes, I have an infernal cell phone and I use it as a back-up when an author needs to reach me to tell me they are running late, etc.) She was calling to tell me that the phone in her hotel room wasn't working.

Now this was a very nice hotel. Her land-line phone in her room wasn't functioning?! Really? She assured me she had been doing interviews all morning on her cell phone and they sounded FABULOUS! Reading between the lines I presumed that the phone in her room was working just fine and she was insisting on doing the interview on her "smart" phone. I almost said let's just forget it. Almost.

But as I mentioned, we have a history and I reluctantly agreed to do the interview on her cell phone. She had written another great book. She gave what seemed like a wonderful interview. I could not be totally certain of that because her "fabulous" cell phone reception had gone south. There were frequent audio drop outs, static, and her sound volume would fade away then bounce back up again. Awful sound.

We did the best we could to make it sound better in post-production. We aired the interview but I never posted it here in the archive because the sound was rather mediocre. That's one occasion when I did a cell phone interview during 2018. Here's another: I always tell the publicists who are scheduling interviews for authors that they must be on land-line phones. This request is not negotiable. Some publicists will scramble to make it happen. Authors will go to their publishers' offices to use their phones. They will go to their neighbors' houses or their mother's or their great aunts'. If the publicists and the authors actually make an effort to locate land-line phones we can usually make interviews happen. But publicists are ordinary people. Some are really energetic and eager to schedule interviews with their authors. Other cannot be bothered. When I inform them about the issue with cell phones they will say, OK, I guess we won't be doing an interview. Last year I scheduled an interview with a novelist in Los Angeles. I told the publicist she had to do it on a land-line. When I called her the second she picked up the phone I knew it was a cell phone. It doesn't take a genius to discern the way a cell phone sounds. I said, hey, are you on a cell phone? She said, "yeah, that's all I have and my publicist said that would be fine." This was upsetting for me. I had interviewed this author previously and she is charming. She writes incredible books. She's warm and articulate. Now here she was on her cell phone. I tried to moderate my agitation at this situation. This problem was entirely due to the malfeasance of the publicist. This was not the author's fault. So we did the interview. The sound quality was atrocious. I almost did not air the program it was so poor. Listeners deserve good sounding interviews. I did not post it here as a podcast in the archive.

Allow me to crawl off my soapbox now. I feel better having vented about my pet peeve. Please listen to this podcast to find out which interviews I chose for this retrospective of favorite non-fiction books from 2018. And watch out for the book I am holding in this photo. It will be out in February. If you want to understand the War on Drugs and whether a WALL along our Mexican border would be a smart idea this book will set you straight on some of those issues. It is fiction but it reads like it was torn out of the front page of tomorrow's newspaper.

The Book Nook on WYSO is presented by the Greene County Public Library with additional support from Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro LibraryWright Memorial Public Library, and Microsun Lamps

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