One of the things that I learned from having a crappy publisher who doesn’t promote my books is that if you want to do something right, you have to do it yourself. (Actually, I first learned this lesson when I was involved in student government in high school, but the point has much more resonance when actual income is involved, as opposed to prom decorations.) The most exciting publicity that the PR person at my publishing house managed to get me was an interview on some radio station in Utah, and so when the tv show got picked up, I went out and hired myself a fancy publicist who could do the job right. She’s not cheap, mind you, but the theory goes that if I sell enough books she could pay for herself, and even if she doesn’t, the resulting name recognition could help sell the next book.
So, a few weeks ago I get a call from her, and she’s very excited to tell me that she’s landed me a meeting (let’s not call it an “audition”) with the producers of a show called Bringing Home Baby, which is on TLC. Now, I’ve never seen this show before, but apparently it picks up where the show A Baby Story leaves off (which I have seen; see below). A Baby Story shows the last few days of pregnancy and focuses mainly on the birth, whereas Bringing Home Baby shows the birth and then focuses mainly on the first thirty-six hours afterwards. So where do I fit into this? Well, the producers are looking to mix things up a little this season, my publicist told me. They’re looking for “experts” to come in and talk to the clueless new parents, and they think that I could possibly be one of them. Okay, so at this point, two things are going through my head: 1) I’m not an expert. I wrote novels about new motherhood, and novels are fiction. I’m not a therapist or anything, and I have no expertise with babies whatsoever. I don’t even like babies. And 2) Did they read Notes from the Underbelly? Because I endlessly ripped on A Baby Story and the kind of annoying people who go on A Baby Story and the stupid stories about the annoying people who go on A Baby Story. I even have a scene in the book where Julie and Eric go on A Baby Story and Eric fingerpaints on Julie’s enormous, swollen belly, and Lara (who is Lauren on the show, if you’re watching), is horrified beyond horrified. But my publicist assures me that they know who I am, and that they understand that I’d be bringing, ahem, an “alternative viewpoint.”
And so, three days later, I’m sitting in an office with a camera pointed at my face, and these two guys are asking me to share my “expert tips” on the first thirty-six hours of motherhood. And I’m like, um, do you guys understand that I wrote a novel? And they nod. Yeah, yeah, we know, it’s cool, just, you know, give us whatever advice you have. Whatever you think best represents who you are and what you could offer to new parents. So I smile real big and pretend that I’m Carson from Queer Eye, and with all of the slightly sarcastic, edgy, fake peppiness that I can muster, I say, “Hi, I’m Risa Green, author of Notes From the Underbelly and Tales From the Crib. If you’re a new mom and you’re feeling like you really hate your baby and you want to send it back and you think it might be the biggest mistake you ever made in your entire life, just remember that it’ll pass. By the time the kid is five, you’ll totally be in love.”
So big shocker, I didn’t get the job. One of the guys called me a few days later to tell me that they pitched around ten different “experts” to the network, and although they “totally, totally loved me and thought that I was SO great, really” - they just couldn’t quite figure out how I would fit into the show. Which I could have told them the second I saw the screener episode that they sent me, but whatever. My feeling is that I should not turn down any opportunity, no matter how stupid or inappropriate, because you never know what can happen. For all I know, these guys will have a reality show someday about cynical, miserable moms who hate breastfeeding and think that all babies are boring, even their own. And if they need an expert for that show, I think they’ll know who to call.