Someone expressed surprise to me recently about my ability to reach out to "celebrities" and get them to agree to be interviewed for my books. This same person told me they feel the reason people go along with discussing matters of interest with me – and indeed, sometimes reveal things to me they have not shared with others – is because they trust me. "Peter, you have the ability to create confidence in people and they have the faith that you'll treat them well, with respect, and not abuse the privilege. That, and you are informed: they know they won't be talking with an amateur."
Well, I'm honoured to have such a reputation. I don't believe I ever set out to gain this status specifically; it's just a natural posture for me to take because I totally respect the folks I interview – whether famous or not. They are taking time out of their busy lives to fill me in on some salient facts that will make my book more readable. And for that, they deserve the esteem I am happy to offer them.
What got me thinking about this, apart from my friend's expression, is that I recently emailed Chuck Granata, who is helping me get Nancy Sinatra to write the Foreword for my book about Ruth Lowe, "Until I Smile At You" (Ruth, you'll recall, wrote the song "I'll Never Smile Again" that electrified Frank Sinatra's career back in 1940, putting young Frankie on the map). Chuck is a noted musical historian, writer and producer who I have been privileged to interview for this same book. (He's the gentleman who said to me, "Peter, do you realize how lucky you and I are? We get to spend our days writing about what we love: music. How sweet is that!") He produces Nancy's SIRIUS/XM radio show "Nancy for Frank" and offered to intercede for me by asking her to write the Foreword. I suggested to Chuck that it might help if Nancy knew she'd be in good company in the book. After all, I had interviewed Chuck, along with Nancy's brother Frankie (before his untimely passing), song writer Alan Bergman (Alan and Marilyn were such good friends of Frank), David Clayton-Thomas (Mr. Blood, Sweat & Tears recently recorded "I'll Never Smile Again": he talked with me about the song and about his admiration for Nancy's father), Bernie Taupin (amazingly, Elton John's lyricist never talks with the media but made an exception in my case for an hour long discussion about his love of Ruth Lowe's songs!), lyricist Sir Tim Rice, radio star Sid Mark, writer Will Friedwald, 2-volume Sinatra biographer James Kaplan, etc. And as I compiled that list, it did get me wondering about my ability to reach out to the noted luminaries I meet up with. I'd never stopped to think about it: it's just what I do.
I often tell perspective writers who ask me about writing non-fiction, that I use a blend of PPM – Persistence, Patience and Moxie. It's the last of those that allows me to reach out to noted luminaries where others might be shy. Fear of talking with them? Not me. Confident I can hold my own with them? Yup. At the end of the day, the people I interview are just people – albeit, people with unique expertise or stature. But they're still people with something to say, and I tend to think of them that way in reaching out.
Jack Canfield, co-author of the "Chicken Soup For The Soul" series, wrote in the foreword to my book "Pushing The Boundaries: How To Live a Fearless Life", (and I guess Jack's another example of my reaching out to someone famous), "Having the conviction to reach beyond your fears and take chances means you’re ready to achieve lasting success."
I'll go with that.