• Q&A With Francois Pointeau

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 3 comments

    Austin, Texas is home to Writing on the Air, a radio program that looks at everything writing. I recently had an email back-and-forth with host Francois Pointeau about what it means to be a part of the Writing on the Air Collective, his literary influences and loves, and what it takes to be a featured on Writing on the Air.


    Q. How did Writing on the Air (WOTA) originally come about? Was it a singular effort by you? Or something that came out of the Writing on the Air Collective?

    A. When I joined WOTA, the show had been on the air for over 8 years. It’s now been just a little over 2 years that I’ve been on the show, and I love it! WOTA is a collective show. At times during its history, there has been as many as 8 members, and at times there has been as little as 1 or 2 members. For the last few months, it’s been mostly Dillon McKinsey and myself. Recently, Erin Cornett has joined the collective, and long time host-guest Dr. Dora Robinson has recently decided to join WOTA as a full member of the collective.


    Q. Is the collective only made up of those who actively contribute to the radio show (as opposed to being a large group filled with WOTA alumni)?

    A. WOTA collective is made up of the people currently contributing to WOTA. To be a member, you have to be a volunteer at KOOP 91.7FM community radio, and be in good standing as far as your volunteer hours with the station are concerned.

    So, currently, the members are: Dillon McKinsey, Erin Cornett, and myself. Dora Robinson, long time guest-host is currently doing her training with KOOP to become a programer / volunteer. Once she’s completed her training, she will become an official member of the collective.


    Q. I’ve been told you ran your own small press, New Belleville Press. What inspired you to start your own publishing company?

    A. I dissolved my small press at the end of 2011, for financial reasons. I, however, do not consider it a failure. I will become a publisher once again soon. For the time being, another local small press is picking up my collection of poems that I self-published in 2006. I cannot disclose anymore until we’ve actually put agreements down on paper, and have started the process. When I do resume publishing, it will most probably be mostly for electronic uploads rather than hard-paper copies of books. I am currently working on a website where I will talk and review books, wine, and food — my three favorite subjects — and will somehow connect that website to future publishing and to my radio show. All currently in the works.

    So, to answer your question, New Belleville Press is now defunct. It was a blast. It cost me a bundle of money that I didn’t have. I learned a ton about publishing, and realized that I needed to learn quite a bit more. I fully encourage ALL writers to self-publish, hire professional editors, and put out as much work as possible. I intend on following my own advice sometime in 2012.

    (I didn’t really answer your question, did I?) What / Who inspired me to start my own press? Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his small press. The Beat movement. Henry Miller. Black Sparrow Press. Blaise Cendrars and his poem “La prose du Transsiberien et de la Petite Jehanne de France” (The prose poem of the Trans-Siberian Railroad and of the Little Jehanne of France). I wanted to be them, but it turns out, I’m just little ol’ me — and I’m OK with that. Oh yeah, and we shan’t forget: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot. All this, and much much more. And, probably even more importantly, the friends who kept pushing me to self-publish my collection. And, all the wonderful artists and writers I’ve had the pleasure to meet throughout the years, whose work I’d publish at a loss if I had the money, just because I think their work should be out there for people to discover.


    Q. I’ve noticed you have a rather wide breadth for who is on your show. In your past shows there’s been a journalist who specializes in healthcare, a poet, a non-fiction writer, and a short story fiction writer. So, how do writers get picked for your show?

    A. We look for people who tell stories either for a living or for a hobby, or as a secondary occupation. Whatever, the important thing here is telling stories, the need to communicate with others, whether it be through poetry, non-fiction, fiction, screenwriting, theater, improv comedy, children’s books … whatever your medium, we’re interested in your Creative Process. We often veer off course, however what we’re interested in the most is the How and the Why rather than the What. My process for picking out my guests is completely random. I meet somebody I like, whose work impressed me for one reason or another; or, a literary agent / publicist contacts me and introduces one of their clients to me; or, a past guest introduces me to one or more of their friends; or, I go to friends and ask them if they know somebody who would be cool to talk to on the radio. I try not to think about it too hard. Except for the very beginning of doing the show, I don’t usually have any problems finding guests.

    It gets complicated when a guest cannot show up and gives me very little time to find somebody else. One time, I had a guest scheduled, and she couldn’t make it on the show because of a family emergency. She sent me the email to a writer that she thought I should interview. I contacted him, but he couldn’t make it, so he sent me the email to anther writer that he admired, and I contacted this writer and she couldn’t make it, so she sent me the email to yet another writer. It went on like that for six writers and recommendations. I ended up interviewing a poet whom I had never heard of before. It was a great show, and in the process, I met a ton of new writers and poets I would never have met otherwise.


    Q. Follow up: What kind of prep do you do for the show?

    A. Very little. If the guest is a writer or a poet or both or anything involving words put down on paper or onscreen, I ask them to send me a copy of their latest book / blog / screenplay / or whatever. I read the book before the show, usually the weekend before the show. I surf the interweb to read whatever I can find out about them. I like finding old interviews, youtube videos, and anything that might introduce me to the guest. Sometimes, often time actually, I get very little from the guest. Musical guests, I listen to whatever music of theirs is available online. That’s it. I do not prepare any questions. I used to. I don’t anymore. At WOTA, we like the conversation to come about organically. That makes for great shows some of the time, mediocre shows some of the time, and really bad shows some of the time. All in all, though, it keeps things interesting and fun. For me anyway.


    Q. Where can we listen to Writing on the Air if we’re in the Austin area, if we’re not in the Austin area, and if we want to catch up on past shows?

    A. We go LIVE every single Wednesday from 6-7 pm Central Time. If you’re not in the Austin area and cannot tune in to 91.7 FM, then you can listen to us on KOOP.org, the radio station’s website. When you go on the website, on the right side there is an orange button that says “listen now.” Click on it! If you cannot listen to the show LIVE, we podcast every single one of our shows, and have been for the last 2 years or so. You can find these podcast by surfing on our show’s website: www.writingontheair.com


    Jacqui Bryant’s love for reading, ability to create adventure, and general curiosity for all things unconventional in life may outweigh her ability to write well. But she hopes not. 

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    Laura Roberts

    Great interview! I always wondered about the people behind writing radio shows and podcasts.

    Melodie Bolt

    I love Ferlinghetti too!

    Christopher Savage

    I like your response about what kind of prep you do. We leave such trails online these days, it’s incredibly interesting to see what info pops up for one in an interview context.

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