March is Mystery Month on CBC Radio’s “The Next Chapter”. On Monday, March 3rd, Shelagh Rogers interviewed me. If you missed it, the podcast is on the CBC website and will be replayed on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. The program is well worth listening to. Timothy Findley’s long-time companion, Bill Whitehead, talks about the book he has written about his fascination with words and about his extraordinary life with Timothy Findley.
The hour reveals how very good Shelagh Rogers is at her job. After “The Next Chapter” was broadcast, I had some very nice emails. One of them, in particular, hit the nail on the head. A friend in Toronto, commenting on Shelagh Rogers’ excellence as an interviewer said, “Shelagh does her homework, asks the right questions, then stands aside and lets her guests talk about their work and their lives.”
The job description sounds simple, but as someone who has been interviewed a lot, I know that not many interviewers get it right. Shelagh is always prepared. She’s generous; she’s sensitive and she’s funny. Of course, she learned from the master.
Peter Gzowski’s support for the first Joanne Kilbourn novel, Deadly Appearances, changed my professional life. The publication of a first mystery novel by an unknown writer from Saskatchewan did not cause shock waves to reverberate across Canada. The book had garnered a few nice reviews and been nominated for the W.H. Smith Best First Novel in Canada award. After that brief flurry of excitement, it seemed destined for the Remainders Table of fine bookstores everywhere. Then Peter Gzowski invited me to appear on Morningside. Deadly Appearances did not skyrocket to the top of the best-seller list, but its sales were respectable enough to get a second Joanne Kilbourn book published – and then a 3rd and then a 4th. Now I am finishing Number 15 in the series, and I know I would not be here if it weren’t for that Deadly Appearances interview.
Over the years, Peter interviewed me many times. The first time we were together in studio I was struck by the number of annotations he had made on my current novel. He not only read the books his guests wrote, he made the kind of notes a serious reader makes when s/he is engaged with a piece of writing. Peter Gzowski was a brilliant interviewer because he was a close and careful reader. He took his job seriously. So does Shelagh Rogers.
As a reader and as a writer, I am immensely grateful that they are both part of my life.