I was all dressed to go, having had my outfit approved by my good friend Meg, when I got a message from the producer of “It’s All Write With Suzette,” Suzette Martinez Standring, telling me not to wear green because we’d be filmed with a green television curtain behind us, so anything green wouldn’t show up at all. The woman must have ESP. I was wearing green. I pictured my head floating in space above an invisible body with my untethered hands waving around on their own. Weird, right? Not the first impression you’d want an audience to have of you as an author. 

Now wearing something blue, I arrived at the cable studio in Milton, MA and met Tom Pilla, the Director of Original Programming for the station, and then conferenced briefly with Suzette.

Before I knew it, we were seated in front of three cameras on tall stands. One was “mine”, one was Suzette’s and one counted down the time for the half-hour show. The one time I looked at the countdown it freaked me out. The number of minutes left was so large! I never looked again.

What also startled me was that even though on one screen we could see, we looked as if we sat behind a table in front of a backdrop of a map like you’d see on a news show. Only there was no table and no backdrop, just the afore-mentioned green net curtain behind us where we sat in two chairs. Wizardry.

And the lights were bright! I mean, floodlight, find your way through the dark of outer space bright. I was suddenly warm. Was I obviously sweating?

Was I nervous?

Are you kidding me? My guts leaped around like flying fish. This was television. In my first cable interview, my friend and Smith College classmate Beth Taylor Sobiloff, talked with me outside at Houghton Pond (eerily, also in Milton, at the Blue Hills Reservation.) Beth’s show, Two Grannies On the Road was, obviously, also television. But it was one camera and just Beth, whom I knew, and me. I got to wear hiking clothes. We were in nature. I was relaxed. Beth is a marvelous interviewer and put me at ease immediately. She seemed to be just having a conversation with me and the whole thing flowed easily. No one had ever wanted to hear so much about my beloved book before and I was enthralled.

Bless Beth; she’s probably the reason I didn’t run out of the studio in Milton. Suzette was warm and welcoming, as was Tom. But the whole atmosphere felt alien to a studio-first-timer like me and I might as well have been on CNN given my state of nerves.

What Helped

Suzette is an accomplished journalist and the author of two books, The Art of Column Writing and The Art of Opinion Writing, two books I need to get.

She’s also a kind and lovely person, full of energy and verve. She asked good questions and followed up on them. What endeared me even more, however, was she said good things about my baby, 48 PEAKS, Hiking and Healing in the White Mountains.How could I not feel at ease with a person who praised my book?

I got more comfortable in the second half of the show and enjoyed—actually enjoyed—myself and answering the questions, as I had done with Beth on her show. The studio thing was turning out to be fun. Nerve-wracking at first, but fun.

Somehow Suzette was able to end the interview on exactly the stroke of 30 minutes, wrapping everything into a neat package. How did she do that? I was thrilled I didn’t have to do anything except respond to questions and watch her do what she does so well: start a show, be engaged all the way through, remember all the fine points, and then close exactly on time. Impressive!

Watch the Interview

Here’s the interview with Suzette on “It’s All Write With Suzette.” You can also go to Milton Access Television, click VIDEO ON DEMAND and search by either the program name, or Suzette Martinez Standring, or Cheryl Suchors. Let me know what you think!