I've had a few radio interviews as part of the publicity for The Mystery of Lewis Carroll. I've had a lot of contact with the BBC over the years, and even made a radio programme of my own. And after doing the radio course at Whistledown (and more about that here) I have felt reasonably confident about doing these various shows.

However, I'm still green enough to have been fazed by an interview recently with someone who, very early on, started quizzing me about why a man with such a dodgy reputation as Carroll should be such a popular writer for children. He persisted with this idea, based on the assumption that Carroll was a paedophile, albeit a closet one, for some considerable time.

I didn't expect him to have actually read my book - although I'd have thought the producer might have - but it all felt a bit like someone asking "Have you stopped beating your wife?" since, as this section of my website makes clear, I don't think Carroll was any kind of a paedophile, even a closet one. That being the case, there is no point in discussing it in detail except to say that.

I never heard how that particular interview sounded on air, but I've wondered since if I should have dealt with this interviewer by taking the politicians' line; i.e. saying "I'm glad you asked me that question" and then simply not answering it. You do set yourself up to be bullied by doing this, if the interviewer persists in trying to force you to speak, but at least he'll come out looking bad too, and it won't just be the interviewee caught on the back foot.

Such shenanigans short change and irritate the listener of course. But when an interviewer tries to bias an interview in this way, the listener is short changed anyhow.

Making the interviewee feel threatened early on in the interview rather guarantees you won't get any relaxed, revealing material, or humour or charm. Still, it probably works a treat if you're interviewing Gordon Brown.