After spending most of the last month in my apartment, combing the Internet for early reviews, and watching my popularity rank on Amazon creep from 4,000,000 up to the 1,000,000 range, I got a call from my publishers last Wednesday letting me know that the New York Post
wanted to do an exclusive interview with me the next day. It was to be an exclusive feature, to let people know about the release on September 15. Other than doing an interview
magazine's website, and making my first promo video
on iMovie, I had been mostly sitting on my ass for a month waiting for something to happen, and here it was. I was scheduled to be in the recording studio with my band, Child Abuse, finishing our second album, but this seemed way more important. The book release was less than five days away.
"Sure, I'm free tomorrow," I said.
I hung up the phone feeling pretty elated because my first-ever interview had been posted earlier that day, and it had turned out great despite the fact that I'd been a nervous wreck and spent the few hours afterward going over all the mistakes I had made.
Then I got a call from my dad's publicist. For those who don't know — and there's really no reason anyone would — my dad is Jack Canfield, the creator and co-author of some 150 books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Jack's publicist and I had sent a few emails back and forth, but this was the first time we had connected by phone.
"So, listen, I just got off a long call with your dad, and I know you two have some history, but he really, really wants your book to be a success, and wants me to work with you."
My dad had been nothing but supportive since the moment I told him I was writing a memoir. Actually, the first thing he said was, "Geez. If I knew you were going to write a memoir, I would have been a better parent." He quickly credited whatever magazine he'd taken the line from, but there was so much truth in the joke that I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I chose laughter, and when I was done he said, "Seriously, though. I mean... I can't imagine I'm going to come out looking all that great, but congratulations. And I want you to know that I'm here to help in whatever way I can." As much as I distrusted my dad in general, I actually believed him.
"Um, okay," I told my dad's publicist. I wasn't too sure about this whole thing, but what the hell.
"Great. Then the first thing we need to do is get you in to see a media trainer. What are you doing on Saturday?"
"Uh, nothing, I guess."
"Good. Expect a call from someone in the next few hours to set that up." Now I really wasn't sure. The New York Post? Media trainers? What the fuck have I gotten myself into?
On Thursday a woman from the New York Post came and interviewed me for two hours. The interviewer had done her homework, and asked some good questions about my childhood, what I thought of the self-help industry, how I started using heroin, how I got off it, and the like. She also wanted to know if my dad had read the book, what he thought, and if our relationship had changed as result of it.
"Yeah. We're actually getting along really well now. When I was writing the book, he was so supportive that I often called him for advice. It was awkward at first, and still is at times, but slowly, by opening this can of worms we've both been able to start working through this shit — sorry, I mean stuff — and the relationship is continuing to grow," I told her.
Hmm. Maybe this promotion business won't be so bad after all, I thought after the interview. The interviewer had even told me I was ready for the big time. There was short period there when I thought she was right.
Then yesterday, I found myself sitting in the green room of a TV studio in Manhattan with a TV producer/media trainer. Media training consisted of about an hour of learning the rules, an hour of formulating my answers, and two hours of getting grilled.
"So, Oran. In your book, Long Past Stopping, you recount having quite a crazy childhood. How painful was it performing with the circus and living at a punk rock club when you were nine years old?"
"Not um. Remember, include the question in the answer. Thirty seconds. Three sentences. Let's try again. So, Oran. You had quite a crazy childhood. How painful was it performing with the circus and living at a punk rock club when you were nine-years-old?"
"Not well. Do it again," he told me.
"Let's see... Actually... Parts of growing being in the circus were kind of fun," I tried.
"Again, and this time remember to use your hands. You can do this, Oran. You're a smart guy. You wrote a book where you tell your deepest, darkest secrets. Remember, you have nothing to fear anymore."
But I was deathly afraid. The bizarre thing for me was that even though the guy kept to telling me to be honest, and to just be myself, and not answer anything in a way that compromised my integrity, I couldn't figure out how that could be possible in that environment. He sent me home with a stack of index cards to write my bullet points on, a bunch of exercises to work on at home, and a DVD of my lame attempts at trying to answer his questions. I went back to Brooklyn, tried to come up with something to write about for this blog, and fell asleep exhausted. I couldn't wait to read the interview in the Post when I woke up this morning, but instead of the exclusive, in-depth, feature-length interview I was expecting, I found this.
No 'Soup' for us — guru's kid
By SUSANNAH CAHALAN
Posted: 3:42 AM, September 13, 2009
The son of best-selling writer Jack Canfield, who penned the touchy-feely "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series, has opened a can of worms with his own scalding memoir of a cold-hearted dad and a dysfunctional upbringing.
"He was the lying, cheating, conniving, manipulative inhuman son of a bitch who had left my mom when I was one and she was six months pregnant," Oran Canfield spews in Long Past Stopping, which hits the shelves Tuesday.
'CHICKEN' SNIT: Feuding father and son Jack and Oran Canfield.
He said his dad abandoned his mom and brother to shack up with a young blond masseuse.
After trouble with drugs and stealing, Oran eventually cleaned himself up. Now he lives in Brooklyn and is a drummer in a band called Child Abuse.
Surprisingly, he said his father, who couldn't be reached for comment, loved the memoir.
"It actually repaired the relationship to a degree," Oran said.
Hmm. So much for being ready for the big time. Maybe I need media training, after all.