Saturday, August 14, 2010

War of the Worlds

It was September 1960 and finally I was a senior at Escondido High School in California. Of course, the status went immediately to my head and it grew to the size of the Goodrich blimp (were the other guys). It probably would have stayed that size were it not for my public speaking class.

The class was informed that the first assignment of the new school year was that we were going to do a live performance of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds on local radio! The whole class was ecstatic about trying out for parts in the production. Scripts were handed out and we broke up into small groups (which were regulated by social class). My group, having no class whatsoever, huddled with desks drawn in a semicircle to practice the script.

As the students practiced their parts, the teacher would hover around the class switching characters to fit personalities. This went on for a week until all the parts were filled. I ended up with the radio announcer's part knowing my performance would get me noticed in Hollywood.

The day of the performance came and the class loaded into the yellow beast for the ride to the radio station. Students who didn't get parts would be allowed to sit in the station and watch the performance, while the principles huddled in the sound stage around a long table fitted with microphones.

As we sat down, a lump started forming in my throat, and sweat beads formed on my acne-covered forehead. For the first time, I was thinking, Oh, my God, this is real and everybody and their mother is going to be listening to me. Yes, as usual, it was all about me, except this time, me, wanted to be gone from this place, Now!

My performance was ghastly, and Hollywood never called. Worst of all, I didn't learn a thing and everything remained all about me until I finally got my P.h.D from the school of hard knocks later on in life.

Here is the deal, for the first time since that awful experience, I am going to be on a 30-minute radio interview from WTAN in Tampa Bay, Florida. We will be discussing my new murder mystery novel, Evil in the Mirror , and its sequel, Day Stalker. The program will be streamed live on the Web at, August 24, at 9:00 a.m. EST. Scroll down to The Book Club with John Austin which is located on the left side of the screen. You can also hear the program later in the day at the same Web address.

For those of you who missed my horrible performance the first time, this is your chance to hear what may turn out to be another bomb on live radio.

I'm just saying,


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