Hobeck Books are very clued up about all things audio. They put out a podcast every week, with book news and chat, and an interview with someone in the book world – one of their writers, cover designers, or others they’ve met during the years they’ve worked in various book and publishing jobs. So when they asked if I’d do a podcast with them, to go out when Daria’s Daughter was published, I agreed immediately. Okay, I’m not the techiest person on the planet but they are, and I managed the video interview with no major complications, didn’t I?
Podcasts, however, are different. And in case anyone’s about to leap into action with a microphone, here are few things I learned during the experience.
We’ll start with what you don’t need. You don’t need forestry workers with electric saws in the woods behind your flat on the afternoon you’re recording. You don’t need road works, including a large machine called a *Saugbagger, on the street in front of your flat. You don’t need an incredibly ancient laptop that’s suffering from terminal overuse but is the only one you have that boasts a microphone.
Unfortunately, the afternoon we were due to record my part in the podcast, I had all three. Just fifteen minutes before we were due to start on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, my flat was surrounded by sound effects that Stephen Spielberg couldn’t have bettered in a disaster movie. As the forestry workers’ saws were several decibels quieter than the Saugbagger out front, I decided the back room would be best. I shut all shutters, doors and windows and crossed my fingers.
The link arrived for me to enter the recording area (there’s probably a more technical term for this) and I clicked through. Unfortunately, while I did get in, my incredibly ancient laptop went on strike when it came to coping with the sound aspect, which is sort of the important bit with a podcast. Cue panic in Switzerland…
Nothing fazes Hobeck Books, however. It’s always very reassuring when you’re attempting something new with professionals who really know what they’re doing. Within minutes, Adrian had organised an alternative platform, and as an added bonus, the forestry workers had left the woods. A quick try-out, and the interview began, though my heart rate was still hovering in panic mode. Adrian started his introduction, and was halfway through this when the Saugbagger crashed into double action on the street. There I was, in a dim room with an ancient laptop, WWIII noises coming from outside, peering at my screen and thinking, ‘Am I doing this right? They’ve switched off visual. How do you switch off visual? That *!?* Saugbagger!! Oh, it’s my turn – what was the question???’
After the terror of the first two minutes, though, I settled down, and having lived with the Saugbagger for nearly a week by then, I was able to ignore it most of the time. I did once forget what the question was halfway through my answer, but that could happen to anyone – couldn’t it? By the end of the interview I was having fun just chatting to Adrian and Rebecca, and was quite sorry to stop.
That evening, I phoned Son 2. ‘You need an external microphone for your main computer,’ he informed me helpfully. ‘I’ll get you one.’ Nothing like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, is there? I was very relieved when I heard the finished interview and realised the Saugbagger wasn’t part of it. I don’t know if it was cleverly edited out, or if my incredibly ancient laptop just failed to pick it up. There are times when ancient technology can be an advantage.
If you want to listen to that podcast or any of the others, click the Hobcast icon at the top of the sidebar for details. And tune into the blog next week for the second Classic Comfort post, with crime writer Kerena Swan’s choice of books.
*Saugbagger: The English translation is: suction excavator. (It’s always fun when you learn new words in your mother-tongue.) Basically, a Saugbagger vacuums up stones, bricks and rubble, which rattle along the tube at the back end before crashing into the interior. Not a silent procedure…