I’ve been out of journalism now longer than I was ever in the profession, which might explain why I was a tad nervous for last night’s DC bookstore debut event for THE DRIVE. Upshur Books likes their readings to be conversations, so real live journalists pepper the authors with questions. I was lucky enough to have Vox New’s Sarah Wildman say yes — a big-time, globe-trotting, in-the-know reporter who usually interviews foreign leaders.
And even though I’ve known her since before she started writing for the likes of NYT, Vogue and before she wrote an amazing memoir herself (we met in dance class at Joy of Motion I’m not saying how long ago) she didn’t cut me any slack.
Me: Should we meet up early, you know, to go over how what to talk about?
Sarah: Actually I want the conversation to be unrehearsed.
Me (in my head) — oh yeah, that’s right. When I was a journalist I never gave interviewees my questions ahead of time either.
In the end — of course — she was right and the crowd that made it to a literary event on the hottest day of the year got a ring-side seat to the craft of interviewing. She saw parallels, motifs and even characters in the book that I’d been too close to articulate. Like how meeting the people who had rescued the first Pan-American journey was a two-way gift from the Gods of Travel. And how the gun, which haunted me throughout the drive, was the decision that ultimately led to my understanding that it’s impossible to control what happens on the road. Or in life.
And even though she wouldn’t give me even a hint of what she thought of THE DRIVE before hand, I’m pretty sure she’s now the book’s biggest champion.