Monday, November 14, 2011

And Now For Something Different

And now for something different.  It seems as if everyone interviews writers.  But there are other people involved in the writing profession.  People who have a direct link into making a writer shine brightly in a dark theater filled with millions of other struggling writers.  I'm talking about publishers, lit agents, book store owners, ad men . . .

And book reviewers.

Michelle Vazquez is a blogger/book reviewer.  I'll tell you right up front that Michelle was gracious enough to read some of my material and right some nice reviews about them.   She is, as well, a writer herself.

Later on in another blog, we'll interview her as the up-and-coming-writer.  But for now, let's talk to her wearing her other hat--that of the blogger/reviewer.

I met her thru Facebook.  (like, Dude!  Who haven't I met thru Facebook!?)  She is an articulate voice who justly deserves an interview.  I thought it'd be interesting to see how a book reviewer ticks.  So I asked her if she'd agree to an interview.  She did . . . . so let's get right to it.

1.  I am assuming your day job is still being the account you said you were.  If so, tell me;  where do you find the time to do so much reading?

Yes, I work full time as an accountant for a local government agency. As for reading, it is my favorite pass time. I watch very little TV. I find reading much more entertaining.

 2.  What made you decide to review books?  A compelling drive from deep inside you--or just wanting to share your opinions with others?

It started when the whole blog trend started and all of my online friends were creating blogs. One day I read a fabulous book that really “wowed” me, and I posted about it. I started doing that, and then I found a blogger program where they would send you free books if you would post about it. It was from a publisher that I was already reading, so I jumped on it. And, then there were more and more….and now I’ve had to cut way back. Eventually it can get really overwhelming!

3.  Are you a generalist in tastes?  That is, do you read everything?  A full spectrum of fiction?  Are do you have your preferences.  If you have preferences, what are they and why these over something else?

I read most everything. I prefer something with some degree of mystery/suspense in some form or another. I like something that grabs me and hooks me. But, that being said, I still read a little bit of everything, including even a few memoirs and nonfiction. My favorite is probably horror. I grew up a huge Stephen King fan. I cut my teeth on his old stuff. I’m not such a fan of his new stuff anymore. I think his writing lost something, but I’m still a big fan of horror.

4.  The $64,000 question:  what makes a good book?  Character?  Plot?  The suspense?  The mood?  And a follow up question--do the principals of what makes a good book, say, in something defined as 'chic lit' the same thing for something defined as 'dark noir?'

You’re asking a purely subjective question. A book would really have to be bad for me to call it a “bad book”. Authors put so much work and so much of themselves into their work, and here’s the thing; I might not like a book, but someone else might love it. That’s part of what I try to do on my blog. I try to tell people enough about the books that I read so they can make their own decision about whether that book would be something for them. One of my pet peeves is when a reviewer gives a book a 1 star review because they didn’t like it.

As for your specific questions, characters are really important to me. I also think that’s a personal thing, though. However, if I don’t care about the characters, it really doesn’t matter how great the plot is, I’m just not going to care. I have to care about the character. And, as I said before, I really like suspense that keeps me hooked and turning the pages. But, that’s all subjective. There are a lot of people who prefer completely different types of books.

5.  With epublishing apparently taking over the publishing world, what role does a book reviewer play in today's world?  Should this role increase in importance or remain relatively the same in stature?

I honestly don’t know. It has really grown just since I started doing this in 2009. I have to constantly turn people down because I’m buried in books. I wish I could read them all, but I just can’t. It has become a growing trend for authors to contact the bloggers themselves about new releases and offer review copies, and there are still the PR companies that do blog tours that are very busy. Before I started doing this myself, I actually had some blogs that I followed and that’s how I found out about new books. I think there are still a lot of readers who do that.

6.  When should a book reviewer become the critic?  How difficult is it to give a bad review to something you've read?   Should a reviewer only be positive in their views, or should they have the freedom to express either praise or criticism--or both--for a piece of writing?

I try to network with other book bloggersLOL. I’m not comfortable with negative reviews, so I will choose to not post on a book that I didn’t like. However, I don’t have a problem with other book bloggers who post negative reviews, if they do it in a respectful way.


Michelle Vasquez is an avid reader who writes book reviews for her website: Life in Review. She reads and reviews everything from Amish fiction to horror, and everything in between. She has two digital short stories with Trestle Press: Second Hand Bookstore and Til Death Do Us Part. She works full time as an accountant and lives in Texas with her two teenage sons.

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