Tuesday 28 April 2015

Why I Went Down The Rabbit Hole

For various reasons I generally keep the personal posts to a minimum here, but just wanted to talk about what blogging's done for me for a bit. I was incredibly lucky a couple of weeks ago to have a fantastic opportunity - Hannah Love from Faber & Faber e-mailed me to ask me if I'd be interested in doing an interview with Siobhan Curham, author of True Face, for the Down The Rabbit Hole radio show.

I read the e-mail, was immensely flattered (I think True Face is a brilliant book which is one I'd highly recommend all teens to read, and Siobhan is a fantastic author), and immediately typed my response.

"Thanks Hannah, so lovely to be asked - really flattered! Going to pass though as radio really isn't my kind of thing, but thanks again for asking."

SPOILER: If you tuned in to Down The Rabbit Hole yesterday, you will indeed have heard me interviewing Siobhan, asking her some (hopefully vaguely sensible!) questions and discussing the book with her. (There's also a five second or so bit of dead air as I frantically try to work out if we're still recording at one point - oops!)

So what changed my mind, and stopped me sending that e-mail?

Well, firstly, the initial response was really kneejerk. Radio definitely WASN'T my kind of thing; I've never liked the sound of my voice much. But at the same time, introducing myself to people I don't know has never been my kind of thing, and I've managed to do that a fair bit at blogger events over the last year or so; talking in public has never been something I've liked doing (except when teaching, when I'm fine, for some reason!) but I coped okay running a session on diverse books at the Libraries Unconference I went to a month or two back. Organising events is something I absolutely HATE, and I've somehow managed to do several #DrinkYAs, a couple of #PicnicYAs, and numerous #DanceYAs over the past 12 months or so and got to the stage where I can generally enjoy them most of the time. (I still get stressed about numbers of people turning up, admittedly!)

So I paused before sending the e-mail, and DM'd a couple of friends (Daphne and Charlie) to tell them I'd been given the opportunity, and both responded straight away saying I should go for it. After saying yes, and while still wondering if I'd done the right thing, I talked to Stacey about it that night at a Waterstones Piccadilly event and she was really supportive as well. I think as well as the support I got from those three, though, the main reason for saying yes was that blogging has absolutely changed me. I've got much, much more confident at talking to people, both in person and via e-mail/Twitter, even those I'm a huge fan of and would have been too nervous to speak to a few years ago. It's helped me to become more organised (slightly, at least), encouraged me to make suggestions - I'm still slightly amazed every time I talk to an author or publicist about an idea and they think it's a good one! - and even played a big part in me staying in London. (I think I'd have been pretty tempted to move back to more familiar territory at the end of my first year here if I hadn't made such amazing friends, and found so many brilliant events to go to.)

In addition, on the day of the interview, when I was seriously nervous and trying to work out whether to cancel it or not (I PROBABLY wouldn't have done that to you, Hannah, honestly!) I had fantastic support via DM from Charlie, who gave me great advice, Stacey, Debbie, Mel, Abi and Louie, all of whom were really thrilled for me. A huge thanks to all of them - and, of course, to Hannah and Siobhan for giving me the opportunity! Having so many supportive friends is something I'm still getting used to, and I am massively grateful to all of them.

If you DO want to listen to the show, and missed it yesterday, you can check it out at MixCloud. (Also, one last big thank you - to Katherine Woodfine and Melissa Cox for the amazing show, it's so great to hear children's and YA books being discussed!)


  1. Wonderful post, Jim and very honest. I think you're brilliant for doing things that scare you. Best wishes from Dublin, Sarah

  2. I can't believe you were thinking of turning me down! I asked you because I KNEW you'd be good (and I was right!). I'm glad though that you got all the support you needed. Thank you for doing such a great interview when it was making you so nervous!

  3. What a wonderful post, Jim! Well done on facing your fear and going for it head on. Fab interview BTW.

  4. I would've been too terrified to contemplate doing something like that!

  5. What a wonderful post - I don't think I could have gone down the rabbit hole (but so glad you did!)