By Leigh Court
I was recently interviewed by NBC Nightly News as part of a story on the national recession, and in particular, about how pop culture (TV, movies, music, books) both reflects the state of the economy as well as offers a temporary escape from it (of which romance novels are the perfect example).
But what led up to that interview may be the real story!
My phone rang at noon on Friday, July 24. It was Chris Jansing from NBC Nightly News, who told me about one particular angle of the story -- how romance sales are hotter than ever, despite the dire economy. And she wanted to interview me as a representative of the romance industry!
After I’d picked my jaw up off the floor and agreed to the interview, I realized this was going to be a serious piece, featuring both the president of programming for HBO as well as someone from the Annenberg school at USC. So I wanted to look and sound as professional as possible, in order to ensure that the romance industry was taken as seriously as those two men.
Out of the closet came the yellow suit that I knew would look good on camera. Chris had mentioned on the phone that she basically wanted to ask me just one question -- why, in a recession, are romance novels hotter than ever? So as I was getting dressed, I carefully practiced my answer in the bathroom mirror.
At 4pm, I arrived at the NBC Los Angeles bureau in Burbank. What a beehive of activity that place is! If you saw Chris’ story on TV, you may have noticed that my interview took place right in the newsroom, with people walking behind me, talking out loud, and even moving things around. As if I wasn’t nervous enough!
But when the cameras started rolling, the most amazing thing happened. All the background noise seemed to disappear, and all I could hear was Chris asking the question I’d spent so long in front of my mirror answering. So I told her how women read romance novels because they want a break from their stressful lives, to escape – even if only for a few minutes -- into a story that’s guaranteed to have a happy ending. That women want to know, when they close that book, their mood will be uplifted. And romance novels do exactly that.
Phew, I thought. I did good.
But then… Chris kept talking. Kept asking me questions. I felt the blood rush out of my face as I tried to concentrate on what she was saying, while my brain was thinking -- what? Wasn’t my answer good enough?
But Chris, you see, is an experienced reporter. By continuing to ask me questions I hadn’t prepared for, she forced me to relax enough to loosen up and just talk to her. Girl to girl. And ironically, that’s when I shared something I’ve always believed. “You know,” I told her, “if you’re stressed or depressed, the bottom line is – romance novels are a lot cheaper than therapy.”
And of course, that’s the quote she used. Clever woman, that Chris Jansing!
I’m only on camera for about 8-seconds, but Chris showed a picture of Secrets Volume 27: Untamed Pleasures leading into my soundbite, so I was absolutely thrilled with the way this story turned out! Here’s the link if you missed it when it aired on NBC Nightly News on Sunday, July 26: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/#32157747
I can honestly say it was one of the highlights of my life, even if I was a nervous wreck during most of it. Absolute. Nervous. Wreck.