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TV, Part Two: In the Cyclop's Cave

On the set of North Carolina Bookwatch, the sound man, discreet as a fine tailor, mikes you by placing a transciever the size of a cell phone just below your waistband at the back, and a tiny mike on your lapel.

The room is cavernous and dark beyond the hyper-brightly lit stage set of desk, chairs and bookcase that floats like an island in the dark. Technicians mill around in the dim background. Your host, smiling encouragingly at you, counts down the minutes to airtime. The familiar NC Bookwatch theme music ensures, and taping begins.

The camera, a tall columnar affair, is like a one-eyed Cyclops, gazing at you steadily as if ready to devour you, or at least amplify each flaw six to ten times. All the web advice cautioned never to look directly at it--adding a Medusa-like mythos: will you turn to stone if you do?Your dapper host, Mr. D. G. Martin, smiles, asks about the book, and as always, it's a pleasure--and often surprising--to see what questions a particular person poses.

It's hard to recall, later, exactly what all those questions were, but you remember a longish discussion about racism in the Mississippi Delta in the 50's and 60's, and indeeed, racism everywhere, all the time. With Mr. Obama in the White House, we've come a long way.

You recall talking about the story involving the McCullough family ghosts, their haunted house, and parallel universes. "What's with all that about the dead waking up in their coffins?" D.G. Martin asks, looking a bit perturbed. He presses gently for an answer, but you have to refrain from fully answering: you're veering too close to the book's punchline. Readers need to know only so much, so as not to spoil the ending for them.

At some point, the sound man sneaks up, while the camera's on Mr. Martin, adjusts your tiny lapel mike, and slips your scarab necklace beneath your top's scoop neckline. You reach up and slip the necklace right back out. Later on, when taping's done, he'll explain that the necklace was tapping annoyingly against the mike--so you neatly undid his ninja efforts. Ah well, live and learn.

The rest is a bit of a blur, so you'll just have to wait until November 22 to wacth the show and see what you were asked, and what you answered. The key to not having to worry about it too much is, having a warm and gracious bookworm host who loves North Carolina books and scribes. He makes the whole effort a happy cakewalk, and even the magnified HD flaws seem well worth the effort.

Now, when Harpo Productions rings up up one fine day to ask about having you on the show (Oprah's show, that is), you've got your HDTV makeup all ready to go, and a little fun TV experience behind you, and no worries, because she's just another avid book-lover herself, right? Right. You send out bushel baskets of thanks and appreciation to Mr. Martin and all the crew--being on NC Bookwatch was a wonderful adventure, and a great way to let more North Carolina readers know about WHERE THE LAKE BECOMES THE RIVER.

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