What made it a great show? Well, Cassandra is a wonderfully warm and friendly person so it was an easy delight to be in her company and we had good conversations before and after the show.
We also had an awful lot of callers, which of course is one of the most significant indications of a good show (it is after all a call-in!). In fact we still had a screen full of calls at the end of the show that we didn’t have time to get to. My thanks and apologies to those who called and waited patiently on the phone but didn’t make it to air.
One of the first things Cassandra said to me when we were given the all clear by the director at the end of the show was how good the questions that came in were. I was pleased that Cassandra was pleased because one of the aspects of a call-in that makes it interesting from a programming point of view is that it’s the callers who determine the direction the discussion goes in.
I always have a list of questions to ask the Cover to Cover author should there be a lull in the phone calls, and those questions will focus on the things that I found important in the book: themes, motifs, characters etc. However, rarely do I get to ask any of them; listeners have their own questions and comments and to Hell with what St.John thinks is important!
But seriously, Cover to Cover is, and has always been, a listener-driven show because my goal is to put readers in touch with the authors they read. I believe this interaction enhances the reading experience and encourages more reading and hopefully greater recognition for our homegrown authors.
I first met Cassandra King in 2005 when she came to our studios for an interview when her third novel, The Same Sweet Girls, was published. She mentioned to me then that she’d love to be on Cover to Cover and I filed that information away in my brain. It was only earlier this year, at the Dahlonega Literary Festival back in February, that I remembered the information I had stored away. Cassandra was one of the featured authors and as soon as I saw her at one of the festival readings I recalled our earlier conversation.
In June at the Margaret Mitchell House Cassandra did a reading for an audience which was obviously familiar with her writing, and afterwards I talked to her about doing the show later in the year. November was the chosen month and, voilà, Ms. King was last night’s guest.
I mentioned that we had good questions. One caller from Tennessee was in search of some divorce counseling (bad relations between the former and current wives) and neither I nor Cassandra is a qualified therapist so we had to dance around his question and suggested that reading Queen of Broken Hearts might help!
Another caller, a student at Shorter College in Rome, GA, has chosen Queen of Broken Hearts for a drama assignment in which each student has to select a book and discuss its presentation of Southern society. The caller wanted to know why to this day there still seems to be a huge stigma associated with divorce in the South, unlike in other areas of the U.S. Great question and an interesting assignment.
A caller from Anniston, AL, asked if Cassandra King was the author’s real name or a nom de plume. The answer: it is indeed her real name, although her married name is Cassandra King Conroy (which explains the address of her website). The domain name "cassandraking.com" was already taken when Cassandra was setting up her website, as was "sandraking.com," so she added her married name for the web address.
Cassandra is married to author Pat Conroy, and I asked her about the dynamics of living with another writer; do they share ideas, use each other as a sounding board, have each other read over their drafts etc.? The answer was no. Cassandra added that she doesn’t like to talk about a book while she’s working on it.
All in all a very satisfying experience. The show was videotaped, so look for that to be posted to the Cover to Cover pages of the GPB website within the next few weeks (there’s a good deal of post-production that goes into each taping), and don’t forget that the show will rebroadcast on GPB Sunday, December 9 at 10AM.
[If you have comments or questions about this, or any other, Cover to Cover blog entry, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.]