Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Interview of Reader/Reviewer ELF
Q: What type of genre do you enjoy the most and why?
A: I am an incurable romantic and really have to have my HEA in order to be satisfied but I also enjoy the imagination and creativity that is displayed by the great science fiction authors such as Julie Czerneda, Lois McMaster Bujold and Linnea Sinclair. I enjoy playing the game of ‘what if’ with them and imagining the heights that mankind can reach and what our interaction with others in our universe (or someone else’s) can be.
Q: What inspired you to read romance books?
A: Life at home when I was growing up wasn’t always happy so it was always nice to imagine a world that was filled with happy endings where the hero cared so much for the heroine that he would sacrifice anything so that they could be happy together.
Q: Do you read ebooks, print books, or both? Have you thought about getting an ebook reader if you don’t already have one?
A: I reluctantly read e-books but really prefer print books. I was very fortunate in that my brother gave my husband and I an iPad for Christmas a few years ago but I tend to read pretty fast and it is not always convenient for me to use an e-reader since it tends to hiccup, not to mention the grief it gives me when I try to bookmark errors or passages that I want to note for my reviews whereas a torn off piece of paper and a pen work just fine in a print book. I also find it really inconvenient when I want to refer back to something...I can usually remember the approximate location in a print book but can waste quite a bit of time trying to remember exact wording to search for in an e-book.
Q: Besides those of us at Romance Books '4' Us, who are your favorite authors?
A: The list is very long and varied and covers a variety of genres. In addition to the authors I named above, I have long been a fan of Nora Roberts, Iris Johansen, Jayne Anne Krentz, Sandra Brown, the late Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce, Patricia Briggs, Dana Stabenow, Stephanie Laurens, Tanya Huff, Robin Hobb, David Weber, Lilian Jackson Braun, C.J. Cherryh, Rita Mae Brown, Jim Butcher and others and in recent years have come to love Shiloh Walker, Eden Bradley, Maya Banks, Cheyenne McCray, Sylvia Day, Eileen Wilks, Jeri Smith-Ready, Thea Harrison and Jennifer Estep and of course I grew up on Robert Heinlein, Roger Zelazny, Alan Dean Foster, Isaac Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien, Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley...well, the list could continue but I am sure you only have so much room, lol.
Q: Do you visualize the hero and heroine as you read? Do you use the cover (if they’re shown) as images for them?
A: I generally tend to be pretty oblivious of covers although I do enjoy the eye candy that has sprouted over the past few years. I don’t usually picture the hero and heroine except in very vague terms. I rarely ever resemble any of them so I don’t really spend time thinking about their physical characteristics although I do enjoy a well-written description. The one thing that will jar me is the discovery that the person or persons on the cover have an entirely different hair color or body type than the description being emphasized.
Q: Have you ever been to a writing conference/convention? If so, what did you think about it?
A: I had the opportunity to attend the Romantic Times reader’s conference last year and the very thrilling privilege of attending RWA this year. They were definitely very different experiences and I am ecstatic to have had the chance to interact with so many lovely authors and fans. There is definitely a different flavor between the behind the scenes activities at the two events but I must say that as a reader, I was so thrilled to be able to meet and (unfortunately) become tongue-tied in the presence of so many people whose books I have read and loved.
Q: What is your all-time favorite romance book? Why?
A: That is a tough one but I think it is more there are some that make my heart clench every time I read them...like the series romances that Iris Johansen used to write. They were set in a fictional country and the characters had extraordinary powers. Some of the J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts tales also have that effect and there are scenes in some of the Thea Harrison books that I just melt over every time I re-read.
Q: When do you read and do have “comfort food” as you read?
A: Lol...I read ALL of the time. It is pretty rare that I do not have a book in hand and if I am stuck anywhere for longer than 10 minutes, I will usually pull out a book. It is a little easier on my poor husband now that there are e-books but I still usually take several print books with me when we travel. I particularly like to read in bed and like nothing better than snuggling in with a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie or two or maybe even some See’s chocolate candies but I tend to try to avoid eating while I read so that I am not getting things all over the pages. One of the best gifts I have ever received is a weight that will hold the pages open so I can read while I floss and brush my teeth or cook dinner or fold the clothes. You laugh, but I usually get a chapter or two done during that time. Now aren’t you sorry you asked?
Q: What kind of promo items (bookmarks, trinkets, brochures, etc.) do you enjoy receiving?
A: I love thong bookmarks but tend to lose most of the other kinds because they get in my way as I turn the pages so I take them out and put them down somewhere and never find them again. Unfortunately, I like things like pens with beautiful bright blue or purple ink, lip balm, mini flashlights for keyrings and sticky notes.
Q: Do you enter contests? What type of items do you enjoy getting if you win?
A: Oh, do I ever enter contests! I am incurable...and am still on a quest to win a Kindle. I have won all sorts of books (yes, I am definitely an addict) which is usually what I am entering for but I have had the great fortune to win many other things, including a trip! I like to win giftcards, especially ones to eating places but I do enjoy winning print books, especially if they are by one of my favorite authors.
Q: What one question would you like to ask an author?
A: Hmm, I had the chance to speak with so many at RWA that I am pretty satisfied but I think that it would depend on the author. Perhaps it would be, what is the one thing that you have had to compromise on in order to get your work published that you regret?
Q: How important is a cover when you’re looking to buy a book?
A: It depends. If it is an author I already know, I don’t pay so much attention except to admire the man candy that seems to be prevalent nowadays. I used to be pretty embarrassed to be seen reading books with scantily clad women on the cover. I don’t like really lurid covers anyway but I admit that some catch my eye if they are in my favorite color or have animals. It irks me sometimes that titles are re-released and I don’t realize it because the covers have changed so I always appreciate it when it says that something was previously released since I don’t always remember to look at the copyright date.
Q: Do you read blurbs and excerpts? Which one is most important in your decision to buy a book and why?
A: I definitely read both. I read blurbs to see whether I recognize the story because again, sometimes books are re-released. I read excerpts because I am one of those anal retentive people who really doesn’t like a lot of typos and poorly edited sentences and that will let me know that this isn’t the book for me. Sometimes I can also tell that the author’s logic or sense of humor isn’t going to appeal to me.
Q: Do you like reading first or third person books? Why?
A: I prefer third person books because I think the action flows smoother if the author follows the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule. I don’t like being lectured to or subjected to long rambling explanations behind a character’s actions.
Q: What story premise would you like to have an author write?
A: I enjoy anything that has a bit of danger, a few obstacles to overcome, romance and some humor that has a HEA ending. I appreciate it when the author remembers that not all of us have a perfectly toned abdomen, are outgoing or amazingly uninhibited and that some of us can no longer (or never could) wear spike heels and teeny bikinis, lol.
Q: How did you get started as a reviewer?
A: It’s funny, I recently was clearing out my parents’ house and discovered review cards in a little file box that I had written for my own benefit while I was in junior high so I guess I started a long time ago! I have always loved books ever since my mom taught me to read and I have always had an opinion about them, rereading some of my favorite books countless times. I submitted an application to a couple of websites a few years ago because I thought it would be a great way to get my hands on new books to read and, although it took awhile, one of them responded and I slowly worked my way up until I am now allowed to have up to 30 titles assigned at any one time. I have had the privilege to read and review more than 300 books and novellas over the past three years and it has been a blast!
Q: What's the hardest and easiest part of being a reviewer?
A: The easiest part is choosing new titles to read and enjoying them. Fortunately I have eclectic tastes so there is usually enough of a variety to choose from that I always have a wonderful pool waiting to be read and I read pretty fast so I can usually read 4-6 titles per week. The downside is that it is difficult keeping up with the titles of authors that I love when I miss out on receiving their works to review.
The hardest part is actually sitting down and writing the review, especially if I didn’t like the work. I agonize over what to say because I know that this represents somebody’s hard work and long hours, no matter how much I feel that it is illogical or poorly written. I struggle with the ‘if you can’t say something nice....’ adage and try to frame my review in a diplomatic manner. Usually I exhibit typical avoidance behavior and go off to read a new title (or two) while I am pondering what to say. That usually works right up until my deadline! I am often reminded that our perception of a story is very much affected by our individual backgrounds, especially when I read other reviews that criticize characters’ behaviors. It startles me to discover that people start viewing these fictional characters as real people and react accordingly and I hope that my reviews don’t fall into that trap but I also think that there should be a certain logic to characters’ actions and I am afraid that I really don’t want to read books that feature mentally ill people, lol.
The other difficulty I am experiencing nowadays is trying not to bite off more than I can chew. I always want to support authors, especially if I have won their books so sometimes I have more titles to review than I have time for and I feel badly if I don’t get their book read in a timely manner. This also impacts what books I choose to review since I am an avid science fiction fan but those titles tend to be weightier and more time-consuming to read since they often involve a very intricate story (e.g. I have had to give up on the David Weber series for now because I just don’t have enough time to devote to reading it). What a lovely hardship for an addict to suffer from...too much to read!
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: One thing...as an avid reader and a busy reviewer, I read a ton of books. I occasionally contact authors to ask them if they want to know about the errors that I have found. I am NEVER trying to be insulting...I just want to improve the work so that when it is reprinted or issued in a different format, that little error is taken care of. I do the same thing when I am reading a blog post or a newsletter because I think that is often the first impression you are giving a reader who may be new to you and I think that you want to put your best foot forward, especially since your vocation is sharing your thoughts through words. I realize that sometimes it is beyond your control but as a reader, it gives me the impression that someone doesn’t care about quality when there are glaring errors. If there are tons of errors, I am probably not going to want to read another book by that person because it is jarring to me when I read. I realize that there are usually more than I notice while I am casually reading but if I am struck by more than one or two errors per chapter, I think there are editing problems. I have had authors tell me that it is out of their hands and I realize that many are at the mercy of their publishers but I think that in this digital age, it is much easier to correct errors than ever before and it is a sign of quality control and integrity to take that extra step. This is particularly pertinent to those authors who are self-publishing because they do not always have access to a team who will polish their work. And no, that is not a pitch, it is something that I have been passionate about for most of my life!
Photos: Flickr: D. Sharon Pruitt, toephoto, and qthomasbower's photostreams
Posted by Marianne Stephens at 12:01 AM