A few months ago, I got an unexpected and interesting email from a BBC Radio 4 producer, Karen. She works on a show called “Soul Music,” about people's emotional responses to particular pieces of music. She'd seen a bit I did for CrimeSpree Magazine's blog about the “Five Albums That Changed My Life,” and noticed that I'd mentioned Beethoven's Nine Symphonies. Did I, she asked, have a particular connection to or story about Beethoven's Fifth Symphony?
I wrote back with the anecdotes I had about listening to the Fifth, apologizing because I was certain it wasn't what she was looking for. One of the episodes of 'Soul Music' features a story about a man coming out of a coma on hearing Bach's St. Matthew Passion. One of them featured a story about a man who wrote a play inspired by “Brothers in Arms,” in an attempt to reconcile his family, torn apart by politics. My story is about washing thousands of tiny artifacts in a dark museum basement, with Ludwig as my companion and my window to the possibilities of life after completing my dissertation.
I didn't think my story of academic serfdom really compared with coming back to life or the Troubles in Northern Ireland. On the other hand, that dissertation and the archaeology I've done directly feeds into my fiction. These are my day-to-day jobs, so every once and a while, I need to remind myself that other people find archaeology and writing intriguing. Heck, I find them intriguing!
To my surprise, Karen wrote back and asked if she could call me. I agreed, and after a long interview, she asked if I'd be willing to be taped for possible inclusion in the show. I said of course—it was far too cool an opportunity to miss out on. We sorted out a date, and arranged with WGBH in Boston to record the discussion, with Karen calling in from the U.K.
The day arrived, and I found my way to the studio. I checked in at security; the gentleman there looked up and said, “Oh, yes, for the interview.” I tried to look as interesting and knowledgeable as possible, until the WGBH producer, Jane, fetched me and got me situated.
I entered the tiny room where I'd be taping, and she shut the door behind me. The room might have been designed specifically to freak me out. I hate sitting with my back to any door (and this one had a window, too), and the room was sound-proof. There was a camera aiming straight at me (and this is what the camera could see, above), so I couldn't see anyone, but everyone could see and hear me. And then there was hearing my own voice, in super-clarity...yikes. I wasn't sure if my nerves were going to get the better of me.
What got my mind off self-consciousness and onto the job was the magic of it. Hearing Karen and Jane discussing radio things—bandwidths and hertz and I don't know what-all—reminded me of what had to be going on for all this to be possible.
I don't know what the final product will sound like; it airs Tuesday February 12, at 11:30am UK time (there will be a podcast available after the broadcast). I don't know if I'll make the cut or what I'll sound like, but I'm looking forward to it. If nothing else, I got the chance to do a radio show, which was terrificly fun and informative. I got to do something with the BBC; as a lifelong fan, I could barely restrain myself from announcing “This is the BBC World Service, with Dana Cameron” in stentorian tones. And I had the chance to see the inner workings of a radio studio—Jane was kind enough to give me a tour after we were done. I saw my voice on a screen (above) and she showed me where various local Boston shows are produced. It's always a treat to see behind the scenes.
Even without having heard the finished show, I'm so grateful for the chance to have participated. I'm thankful to the good folks at CrimeSpree, who share their love of crime writing and make connections for their readers through it. Most of all, it was a wonderful reminder that it's a good thing to be frank about your loves, your fannishness, and your geekitudes, because when you put your enthusiasm into the world, you never know who might want to share them.