Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reviewer Time: Ana & Thea [The Booksmugglers] Part 3

As with all good things, this interview has come to an end and what an end that is. :) Thanks for everybody for sticking for so long with me and the girls. With no further ado and setbacks and delays, here are the fabled last answers of these two amazing reviewers [for this interview, not at all]


16. Now that I look at your blog and such I notice a lot of diverse activity and what I shamelessly wonder is the whole Guest Dare thing. How did the idea to make people willingly agree to undergo a torturous experience got born?

ok, so we already had the Dare feature where we dare EACH OTHER to read outside our comfort zones. The one day, I think we were talking about horror books and one of our blogging friends, Kmont from the Lurve a La Mode blog said it was a genre she never read….we then promptly dared her to read one we would pick. Then, we thought, actually this is a good feature : it is interesting to read people’s thoughts on books they would read otherwise but also and I think this is the most important thing of all, it provides an across blog experience, you know? Instead of each blogger being stuck in their piece of the world, they get to visit us and sometimes, they even dare us back. Which is always fun!

Thea: Yup, I think that's how it happened. I had been trying to get Ana to read Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey (one of my absolute favorite books) for AGES, and Ana had been trying to get me to read...a Kresley Cole book! So, we invented "The Dare" (actually, the "Triple Dog Dare"). Then it sort of spread to other victims--err, I mean, guests.

It's great fun I think, for both us and for the guests we Dare. Trying new genres and books you would ordinarily never read, pushing the envelope and stepping out of that comfort zone? It keeps us all honest.

17. MHm, also I am super interested in the whole From the Dungeons special. Where did you come up with that idea?

: I think The one day thought about writing on older stuff and if memory does not escape me, I said: cool, we should make it another feature and call it Dungeons. But I may be wrong though (am I Thea?) and it has been aaaaaaaaaaaaaages since we last did one of those. We love it though.

Thea: Yep, this one was mine! I think the idea was, we always write about new books (or new to us books), films, etc...but what about old favorites? Hence, "From the Dungeons" was born. It has been a while since we've done one, huh Ana? I love these nostalgic posts...where else can you share profuse love for Christopher Pike and Fighting Fantasy books?

18. To get down to the path of stupid repetitions say the same about the Book Debate and let's call it quits, Hah!

ah, the book debate is our joint review but with a twist: it is for those books that we completely disagree with each other. However, these days, the book debate has been incorporated to our joint reviews anyways. How did it start? Which was the first one Thea? I think it was …..A Hunger Like no Other ..yes?

Thea: Oh yes, the book debate. Of COURSE it all began with the dreaded Kresley Cole! I had read A Hunger Like No Other and hated it, and Ana had just finished it and loved it. So, instead of Ana just posting her review, we decided, what the hell let's make it a debate. And...that's that.

19. What do you think of self publishing? This is a very interesting topic as of late with the numbers of authors self-publishing on the rise and the treatment they receive not only from reviewers, but the whole book publishing community including readers.

Given our time constraints as we grow online, we generally stick with formally published work – though we really make an effort to connect with small presses as well as the publishing juggernauts. That said, we have read and loved some independently published work.

For example, Michael Hicks offered us a copy of his self-published epic science fiction saga, In Her Name. AND, Ana and I both were blown away by this hidden gem! A major publishing house would have to be blind or stupid or both to turn away this book…or, more likely, Mike’s work isn’t really what’s fitting the preset mold for science fiction sales in these houses.

So…I don’t think it’s fair to say that if a book is self published it must be bad. Certainly that could be the case for many self-published authors, but there are other reasons why a book isn’t put out by Tor or other bigger imprints.

Ana: What Thea said. Michael Hicks book was awesome.

20. Another hot topic is the crisis in the publishing industry. It’s true that the recession pretty much hit everywhere, so as a reviewer do you feel the pinch from it all and how do you see the industry shaping?

Honestly? No. Books keep coming from both Publishers and Authors, thank God. I am fortunate enough to get most of the books I want to read (although I do pay for postage from the US to the UK) and I had to buy only a few books so far this year because I am addicted to Amazon buying. I foresee e-publishing taking a bigger chuck of the market in years to come – and I also think publishers will start sending e-arcs rather than hard copies.

Thea: We do keep receiving books from publishers and authors, and we are eternally grateful for that! Personally, I do feel like I have to refrain from purchasing books with the ongoing recession (I’ve really been good at cutting back). As for what cutbacks and the recession mean for the industry at large? I’m hoping we’ll see e-books become more popular and affordable.

21. Do you think there are still areas fantasy has slipped that you would like to cover in other mediums? And how far do you think the fantasy/sci-fi culture will enter mainstream? This I ask because art purists denounce fantasy and sci-fi on a regular basis and yet they keep coming back full speed ahead.

I would love to see more fantasy covered on television – we have (had) science fiction shows with Battlestar Galactica, spec fic sorts of shows with LOST (or the sadly bland Fringe), but it has been quite a while since we’ve seen fantasy really great fantasy shows on TV (shuddup, yes I loved Xena: Warrior Princess). I don’t really care so much about the opinion of art purists, but I do think SFF has entered the mainstream. Just take a look at this year’s (or even the past five years) worth of blockbuster films: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It’s a good thing, in my opinion.

Ana: let’s not forget the ongoing Dr Who series here in the UK or other fantasy series like LOTR and Chronicles of Narnia that became movies and were well accepted, right?

22. Also there has been much denouncing of urban fantasy in pretty much the same vein mainstreamers give fantasy and sci-fi the cold shoulder. Where do you stand in this matter?

See Question 14 above!

Seriously, it irritates me to no end that folks tend to generalize by an entire genre. Especially considering we are all genre fiction readers. Any genre has its highs and its lows, and it’s willfully obtuse to say that an entire genre is “crap” – which seems often to be the case when mainstream fiction readers talk about fantasy, or when fantasy fans talk about Urban Fantasy. There’s even a new divide within the UF readership where some fans cling to the “contemporary fantasy” label to separate themselves from the lower echelons that read about vampires and werewolves and whatever.

Granted, some UF is spectacular crap. But some of it is simply spectacular. Bottom line is, there is good and there is bad in every medium. Folks are only limiting themselves by thinking that another genre has absolutely nothing to offer.

Ana: It drives me INSANE. It’s like, every genre reader feel entitled to respect but end up disrespecting other genres. I even wrote a joke about it:

A Fantasy reader walks into a bar and sees a bunch of people deep in conversation about books. He joins them and at one point they are talking about Fantasy and Urban Fantasy. He says: “well, my genre is actually pretty good. We deserve more attention. At least we are not as bad as UF.” Then, the UF reader in the group replies to this with: “actually, my genre is not that bad, we deserve more respect. At least we are not as bad as Paranormal Romance.” Which prompts the reply from someone who reads PR “You see, our genre is misunderstood, we so kick ass, we deserve more respect as well. At least we are not as Erotica with its amount of pure sex and no story”, which THEN prompts the Erotica to say “you misunderstand the genre, we have GOOD stories with sex, and what is wrong with that? At least we are not as silly as those Category Romances and their stupid titles and virgin secretaries”. Then, the Category reader will say “give me a break, we have good books in the genre, sweet stories, hot stories, anything you can ask for and they can be really good too. At least we are not as dull or tear-inducing as some of the mainstream fiction out there.”


No one replies to THAT. A reader of REAL literature would never be at a bar with crappy genre readers.

23. I am not sure what a closing question sounds like at this topic, so you are free to same some closing words on your own regarding reviewing.

if you are going to do it, do it because you love it. Do it for fun like we do.

Thea: Umm...what Ana said. And...San Dimas High School Football Rules!


Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Perhaps the problem lies with Sci Fi and Fnatasy is becuse theses books are big on worldbuilding and tend to be longer than other genres.
I believe that sci fi and fantasy have the best authors out there.

Harry Markov: daydream said...

KB: Yes, I agree, because sometimes the sff authors come up witha story that can rival any mainstream bestseller and then garner it up with worldbuilding that can put a lot of people to shame. But I am not entirely sure why the fans go out and bash a whole genre. Sure I can dismiss a genre, but not because I think it's worthless or bad or not worthy to be in print, but because it doesn't work for me. Still I admit that it [unspecified genre I am not a fan of] has its merits and works for other people.

Tracy said...

A fabulous conclusion to a wonderfully put together 3 part post. I'm highly impressed with all the questions and answers!

Harry you did a wonderful job.
Ana and Thea - keep up the good work on TBS.

Ana said...

How can this be the end? I shall drag myself to my corner of the internets and cry my eyes out. Oh, I shall miss the fame! the spotlight!

Plinydogg said...

This was a great series of reviews! Thank you!

Harry Markov: daydream said...

Tracy and Plinydogg: Thank you, it was a pleasure for me to do these three and I am glad that they were well received.

Ana: You sure fit the dramatic act. :D If you are good, I promise there will be spotlight.

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