At Ooligan, we are always on the lookout for exciting opportunities to publicize a new title and reach an even wider range of readers. As a small press, not only are we more accustomed to doing publicity on a local scale, but it’s a battle to receive any national attention, given the multitude of titles published by the Big Five every year. With Allison Green’s travel memoir The Ghosts Who Travel with Me, we were proud to have a mention of the book in Publisher’s Weekly and a review in Shelf Awareness. This summer, we were honored once again when Green was invited to appear on the premier literary radio show Bookworm, an opportunity I had the good fortune and privilege to arrange.
Bookworm is a nationally syndicated radio show that airs every Thursday on Los Angeles’s public radio station KCRW, whose episodes are distributed by NPR. Michael Silverblatt, the host of Bookworm, has been doing the show for more than twenty-five years. In that time he’s hosted many prestigious authors on the show, such as Junot Díaz, Margaret Atwood, Art Spiegelman, and Salman Rushdie.
Bookworm also marked the first time an Oolie made a radio appearance on behalf of the press. In addition to the interview component, Silverblatt had the idea of discussing the work Ooligan does as an independent, student-run press. Since I was one of the members of the book’s project team, he invited me to appear on the show alongside Green to provide a bit of background on Ooligan Press. In early August, we made the trip down to Los Angeles where we recorded the Bookworm interview together.
Silverblatt characterizes Bookworm interviews as conversations with authors. He told us that he doesn’t prepare any questions in advance. Instead he fishes—he goes into the interview with a general sense of topics he’s interested in discussing. Using the back-and-forth rapport Silverblatt develops with the author, he builds a narrative that encapsulates the many angles of the book that’s being discussed.
When I first pitched The Ghosts Who Travel with Me to Silverblatt, and later during several follow-up conversations, we talked about Richard Brautigan as the focus with which he was interested in reading Green’s memoir. (In preparation for the interview, he re-read all Richard Brautigan’s novels to re-familiarize himself with his writing.) Few people now remember he existed, yet here was Green, not only writing about Brautigan, but using her conflicted relationship with his writing as her center; investigating not just her connection to Brautigan’s writing, but to an entire literary tradition and historical memory she didn’t take part in and was deliberately excluded from.
At the time of the Bookworm interview, Green was no stranger to radio interviews, having done some previously for Ghosts, and this was my very first. We had a fantastic time. Silverblatt and his producer Connie Alvarez were as friendly and warm as can be, making Green, her wife Arline, and myself feel relaxed and right at home. We talked, we joked, we laughed, and we recorded an enjoyable and insightful interview.
Setting up Green’s interview on Bookworm has been, without a doubt, the highlight of my time at Ooligan thus far. Those of us in marketing and publicity typically do all their work behind the scenes. Being able to publicly promote The Ghosts Who Travel with Me and Ooligan Press alongside Green, on a nationally broadcasted platform no less, was an incredibly rewarding experience. You can listen to and download the interview here. And after that, you can check out the treasure trove that is Bookworm’s archived interviews.