On Thursday I had my first interview as an author on Instagram. Live streaming.
Lovely Brandy who helps and supports authors and writers asked me if I would have liked to be her next guest and I, in a raptus of total lack of any common sense, I said yes.
Only after we agreed on the day and time of the interview, I eventually realised what I have done: Me, in front of a camera? Live with people looking and listening to me? I must have been temporarily insane when I agreed. I am a bubbling person but in my little group of people. I am certainly not someone who likes To be centre of attention and I am usually that someone who reacts at it most awkwardly and clumsily.
After I thought to fake an attack of tonsillitis right on the day of the interview, I felt like the biggest coward ever. So, rather than keep running in my garden with 1 degree Celsius and wearing only my underwear in the hope to get the most significant sore throat in history, I tried to focus on transforming the panick in excitement. And because the power of our mind is limitless, it worked! At the idea of me, answering questions about my life as a woman, a mother and a “writer”, I developed a total blind and irresponsible excitement but, still excitement: “Feck tonsillitis, I am going to d this, and it will be great”.
In the following weeks, after Brandy and I spoke about the interview, so many things happened that I didnt even think about it again, until the day before “the event”, (because let’s face it, this could be the highlight of my entire year).
I texted Brandy, we agreed on a few topics, I even wrote down a few answers, on a piece of paper that it is superfluous to say I couldn’t find on the day of the interview, and the whole thing was suddenly real and making me predictable anxious again.
That evening before going to bed I practised in front of the bathroom mirror to speak slowly.
First of all, because I know my fat chicken, that in this very case it is nobody else but me, and I notoriously have the tendency to talk too much and too fast when I am nervous. Second, because as slower you speak and as higher are the chances to camouflage the accent. In particular when, and I will quote my daughters, it is as silly as mine.
Thursday morning, I woke up feeling good and driven to give my best. Nervous as well as my hands were disgustedly sweating hours before the interview but, never mind. I had decided to play, and I was going to play it entirely, to the point that I advertised the conversation on all my social media pages.
Of course, after every time I pushed the button “post”, I immediately regretted, but it was too late: I was in the game, and I had to play.
Eventually, it was afternoon. I came back home from collecting daughter number two from fiddle at 4.45. The Interview was scheduled to start at 5.I had fifteen minutes to instruct the girls not to enter my study unless the house was on fire. And by that, I specified that I meant the whole house because if it was just one room, they could close the door and move to another one or even better in the garden, along with the dogs.
Breath in, breath out…I was officially agitated and the proof was that I went to the bathroom three times in ten minutes. I made sure to have a glass of water handy, the I pad fully charged and my lipstick impeccably applied with no trace of it on my vampire’s tooth. I was ready and waiting.
At 5.20pm, nothing had happened yet!
I checked my IG account, but there were no messages from Brandy. I must have got the time wrong, I thought, and possibly the wrong day too.
I went back to the conversations with her, and I was definitely on the right time and day.
I checked my connection, but even that was correctly working.
Worried that Brandy was somewhere out there in the web introducing me as her next guest and I was nowhere to show up, I texted her.
With my significant relieve none of those scenarios was true. The interview was merely supposed to start at 6 pm, my time, instead of 5 because while in Europe we changed the time in the States they didnt.
A simple misunderstanding that causes no harm to anyone but that reinforced my hate for the DST that not only for six months takes every day a precious hour of sleep from me but it also nearly ruined my interview.
I had now half an hour to wait. Half an hour to fit in the most significant number of housework possible, from getting some dinner together, to take care of the laundry and feed the dogs to avoid them to be heard hauling outside the study.
6 o’clock arrived and I had barely the time to go back to my desk and jump into Brandy’s video. That delay in the start distracted me and avoided me the waiting to start that usually builds up the anxiety.
Great, I thought, I am going to be so relaxed and spontaneous. I even decided to follow my friends’ suggestion just to be me. Something that in normal circumstances I would consider dangerous, in particular when my tongue is accidentally faster than my brain, but that, in this case, it instead paid off…..or, so I believed.
In one click I was out there, live in front of total strangers and familiar faces, that I realised was even worst. My ears and cheeks felt on fire, but Brandy was brilliant and made me feel complete at easy, and all those people participating were fantastically supporting.
I talked like a chatterbox about everything, and by the end of the hour, despite feeling emotionally drained, I felt unstoppable. I was enthusiastic about my performance.
Nothing could destroy how happy and satisfied I was, not even the fact that the travelling husband barged into the room in the middle of the interview: “Bloody Hell what are you thinking? That you are better than your daughters or your dogs. If the room is off limits it is for everybody, you included”.
Obviously I couldn’t say it, and instead, I smiled like the most in love of the wife and briefly introduced him to my public. It did cost me, because what I wanted to do was to kick him out the room as that was my space and he had no right to be there but, as my friend SJ, later told me: “it could have been worse, he could have come in naked”.Fair enough, maybe I should only be grateful he had all his clothes on instead of being pissed for the interruption.
The entire evening I was so proud of myself: “I am so a natural in front of the camera!”, except I am not and the reality hit me when I rewatched the interview.
As more I watched of myself and as more painfully my enthusiasm died.
Starting from the accent, I was so concerned that it was too strong and too Italian that I sounded like a German all the time.
To be clear, I have nothing against Germans. On the contrary, they are one of my favourite people and I love the language, but I don’t think it is a good thing to sound german when you are talking English and you are a native Italian. That said, this throws some light on the fact that I am always mistaken for french, german, polish or else but never for Italian.
Unfortunately, the video of the interview, also highlighted that even if my silly accent(to quote my darling daughters) doesn’t give me away, sure my body language does. As my gracious cousin confirmed with a text crowded of laughing emojis. She was right. Not only my hands were continually looping in the air, but my butt kept shifting in the chair from side to side and like some occult force possessed me, I kept stretching my neck back and forth looking like a turkey with red lipstick.
My famous /infamous frown had made its appearance a few times too, but always in its funny self: Pew!
So yes, the perception of yourself and your performances sometimes cannot be more different from reality.
If I am ever to be interviewed again, I will get someone to tie my hands behind my back and the night before I will sleep with a fan on my neck so to be sure to wake up the following morning with a stiff neck that I won’t be able to move. Or I will agree on a radio interview where only my voice will be heard. Of course, the accent will still be silly, Italian or German, but because I am quite happy with the contents of my answers, I like to think it will be them to get people attention and interest.