Writers in the Rafters ELFM Experience

ELFM logoLast week two of our members of our Writers group at Central Library were featured on East Leeds FM. They read their stories as part of the Word Salad feature.

Below is what Janet made of the whole experience:-

“In 2012 we produced our second annual anthology of short stories.  We are Writers in the Rafters, a small, but happy band of writers who meet once a month in the attic of the Central Library.

This year, we wrote stories inspired by the artwork in the ArtGallery in the same building.  Our leader, Ben the Librarian, did his usual thoughtful and artistic work to produce the book, but this time there was a difference; an audio book was produced to accompany the paper version.

Recording my story was interesting, but rather hot work in the recording booth, not much bigger than a toilet cubicle.  I had never done anything similar before and was concerned about how my Leeds accent would sound and if I would remember to read slowly enough, and not stumble over my words or lose my place on the page.  However, all went reasonably smoothly, and Ben and I declared ourselves happy with the result.

Later on, Ben emailed us to ask if anyone would like to be interviewed about their stories on the internet-based, local radio station, East Leeds FM.  I said I would, although the prospect of speaking live on radio was a daunting one.  Reading aloud is one thing, but answering questions without sounding like a complete idiot is another.   But of course, doing scary things is supposed to be good for you, so they say.

So that is how I found myself climbing a set of grimy stairs at the back of a run-down parade of shops as the sun set on a cold, gloomy, March evening.  The grey concrete landing was bleak and draughty. The door-buzzer was broken on the scuffed, metal anti-theft door.  I couldn’t see in any of the windows, so I just knocked and hoped someone would hear me.

They did.  Almost immediately, the door was opened by a young man who showed me into a warm, brightly lit room with a long, pale wood, table down the middle, a teenage girl working on a laptop and my fellow writer, Gill from Rafters, sitting at one end, drinking tea and eating, as I discovered shortly after, very nice chocolate chip cookies.

Pete, the man in charge, did the introductions.  Alex had admitted me to the building and Grace was to be our technician for the broadcast.  Pete then produced a mug of tea and explained the procedure.  Shortly before we were due on air, he escorted us into the studio, and asked us both to sit in front of circular, black mesh, microphones, which were placed on a round table covered in blue felt.  The studio, as Gill remarked, looked rather like a rather cosy retro tardis, the blue walls matching the blue felt of the table.

Grace, wearing headphones, sat behind a wedge-shaped sound board, which was covered in complicated looking knobs and sliders.  She sorted out the CD with our stories on it and did a sound check by asking us what we had eaten for breakfast.  I failed miserably in the healthiest breakfast contest, my coffee and a biscuit coming third behind Gill’s porridge and yogurt and I think Pete’s was muesli and something else,  I can’t really remember, I was far too nervous at this point.  We chatted, until Grace counted down the seconds… Live in thirty…live in ten… Live in five…And then Pete was on the air, smoothly introducing us and linking into a track by a band whose name I was also too nervous to remember.

Grace counted us down again and then Pete asked us about our writing group and our stories.  Gill answered confidently.   She has done this before though, she was interviewed by Alan Titchmarsh when her novel was short-listed in a competition on the telly last year.  I hoped that I had managed to reply coherently to Pete’s questions but I couldn’t be sure.  The story CD was played, my story first, more conversation, then Gill’s story, more chat and then that was it, our work had been broadcast live.  We were thanked and ushered out of the studio as the next interviewee was ushered in.

Although I was really nervous at the time, in retrospect I realised I had enjoyed it and would be much more confident if I had to do it again.  My daughter had listened to the broadcast and phoned me later to say that she was impressed and assured me that I hadn’t sounded like an idiot.

As ELFM is an internet-based broadcast, it can be listened to later, via the computer.   I didn’t dare listen until the next evening.  When I did, I was pleasantly surprised.  I didn’t sound too bad, and I realised that I had taken another couple of steps along my writer’s path, with the help of Ben and the lovely people at East Leeds FM.”

Thank you to Janet for writing this and thank you to East Leeds FM for featuring the work of the writers group on the programme.

Listen again to the programme.