The OF Blog: Interview questions for bloggers (and anyone else, for that matter) to answer

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Interview questions for bloggers (and anyone else, for that matter) to answer

Inspired by several email interviews that I have read, I thought it would be interesting to lift certain questions and apply them to online reviewers and anyone else who has an interest in book blogging.  Feel free to answer these at length or to copy/paste them to your own blog and answer them there.  Should be interesting to read the responses!

1.  Without giving anything away, what can you tell readers about your blog?

2.  What can you tell readers about your future themed review months?  Are there any sequels in the works?

3.  What do you feel is your strength as a blogger/reviewer?

4.  If you could go back in time, what advice would you give the younger you concerning your blogging/reviewing career?

5.  What was the spark that generated the idea that drove you to start your blog/reviewing career?

6.  Were there any perceived conventions of blogging/reviewing that you wanted to twist or break when you set out to start blogging/reviewing?

7.  In retrospect, is it safe to say that the online blogging/reviewing world wasn’t quite ready for your blog/review column? Blogging/reviewing was dominated by powerhouses such as Wil Wheaton, Dave Itzkoff, and Harriet Klausner at the time. Looking back, was your blog/review column too avante-garde in style and tone?

8.  Many bloggers/reviewers don’t read within the blogging/reviewing field. Is it the case with you? If not, what bloggers/reviewers make you shake your head in admiration?

9.  Honestly, do you believe that bloggers/revieers will ever come to be recognized as veritable critics? Truth be told, in my opinion there has never been this many good blogs/online review columns as we have right now, and yet there is still very little respect (not to say none) associated with them. 

10.  How would you like to be remembered as a blogger/reviewer? What is the legacy you’ll leave behind? 

11.  Do you ever worry that your blog articles/reviews are being misinterpreted? Ever ball up your fists, shoot steam from your ears and yell, “But you just don’t get it!” while reading a comment to a review? Even if they don’t get it, is that opinion still wrong?  

12.  If you take a reviewer like Adam Roberts, as his ramble-y, engaging reviews of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series and put them up against some of the reviews found on, you’re going to find people who appreciate one or the other. Many of those reviews on are written by what we’re calling ‘bad readers’, but there’s certainly an audience (a very large audience), who appreciate those ‘you’ll love this book if you loved ‘Book X’ or ‘Movie Y’. Are Roberts’ reviews objectively better? Would Joe Blow at the grocery store, who only chooses his novels solely on cover art think so?

13.  Given the choice, would you take a paid review or column for an online or print publication, or a Book Blogger Appreciation Week award? Why, exactly?  

That ought to be enough for now.  Now dare you answer these questions honestly?  Hrmm? 


Nathaniel Katz said...

Hat Rack is divided between me trying to figure out whether some books are good and me trying to figure what some are really about, and I occasionally do both. There’s also a lot of random content, now including interviews.

While I don’t have literal months, due to having far too short an attention span to read nothing but one genre for four weeks, I have recently set out on a challenge to myself. I’ve always looked down on both Urban Fantasy and Graphic Novels, but I’ve always been aware that doing so was probably kind of silly. So, for the next few weeks, I’m reading and reviewing five of each.

I don’t review every book I read, but, when I review a book, I’m determined to make the content worthwhile every time. There’s no one template I use for my reviews, so the process is hopefully organic to some extent and fits the book in question. Besides which, there’s that little hat guy in comments. Can you really say that he’s not awesome?

“Nat, this is going to be a lot more work than you thought.” Which is probably something that I needed to hear, seeing as the blog’s first three months of existence had a grand total of six posts between them, and I didn’t think that that was such a bad thing.

First, I just like talking about books, and I like to hear myself talk far too much to properly utilize a forum, though I do try. More importantly, I didn’t see many reviews at the time that were what I was looking for. I’m not interested in something that is a plot summary with a paragraph of I-liked-it, and I only knew of one or two reviewers who were doing something more in-depth. Now, of course, I know of a whole blog roll of them, but by the time I found all of those I was too interested in reviewing to stop.

I’m clearly far too important to bother answering this question. Instead, pour through my released articles and reviews and figure out the many conventions I have positively SHATTERED in my work.

Hahahaha, excellent question. The answer: perhaps.

My two absolute favorite blogs are Aidan Moher’s A Dribble of Ink, in part because it was his blog that inspired me to start my own, and Abigail Nussbaum’s Asking the Wrong Questions, which simply has the most insightful reviews I’ve ever read. My own content oscillates wildly between aping one or the other of them. Beyond those two, I’m in awe of the Speculative Scotsman’s post-stamina and following, and I love the various critical articles here. I disagree with a fair share of them, sometimes quite vehemently, but they’re well thought out enough to keep me coming back.

They’re not respected? Oh, honestly didn’t know that. I mean, I doubt The New York Times considers bloggers a very good source of review, but I’ve yet to see an actual genre fan look down upon them, and that’s all I care about when it comes to audience.

One of unparalleled brilliance and an absurd quantity of reviews. Oh, and I guess I might as well be known as a totally awesome guy, too, because why the hell not?

Nope. I’ve been called out a few times, but most of those were people clearly in the right. Besides, I don’t think it’s really possibly for someone to not get my “getting” of a book. They can disagree, yeah, but my reviews are hopefully not labyrinthine enough to warrant debating interpretations.

Not objectively better (is there such a thing? I’m not sure.), it depends on what you want from a book. If Joe Blow only looks at cover art, I don’t know why he’d even read an amazon review, but that doesn’t invalidate what Adam Roberts is doing. By the same token, the fact that I’m totally uninterested in reading regurgitated plot summaries doesn’t make them truly BAD (I guess…).

Well, I guess a bigger audience is really the only sensible goal for a book blogger, and, seeing as I’ve never heard of the award, I’m guessing not many people would follow it. The column, on the other hand, would not only have a built in audience, but would pay money. Hard to beat that. Money, after all, leads to books.

Unknown said...

Will do.

Paul Smith said...

1. My blog will change your life.
2. There is “me month”, dedicated to the genius of myself, followed by its sequel, “me month II: electric boogaloo”.
3. The fact I am a God amongst mere mortals.
4. The future me did come back in time to give me advice, he told me not to listen to anyone and believe in my superiority and one day my blog would be the centre of humanity and I would be emperor of the world.
5. The future me returning from the future, of course.
6. Yes, I wanted to make blogging awesome. Bloggers tend to be whiny nerds who love books and lack any sort of general awesomeness so I decided to change that.
7. The blogging world still isn’t ready for me and they never will be. My genius is far beyond the comprehension of the average person. One day they’ll realise their mistake and it will be too late as I’ll already be emperor.
8. Would a modern man read the crude pictoral drawings of a cro-magnum?
9. In the future, my opinion on anything is the only thing that matters, so I suppose the answer is yes.
10. For making Louis Ferdinand Céline look like Martin Luther King.
11. Anything that runs counter to my own opinion is wrong of course, no doubts about it. In the future, those people are taken out and shot.
12. Wrong people are wrong, we covered this already.
13. Neither awards nor cash are necessary when you are emperor of the world

Anonymous said...

I'll pretend I have a blog:

1. I try to keep the snark to a minimum. You won't see much of anything in the way of genre vs. mainstream bouts.

2. Something poetry related.

3. Expressing ideas within the text more so than reviewing to come to a simple good/bad judgment

4. You don't need a mega-load of links.

5. boredom

6. Never start an entry with "I've been so busy lately."

7. Wil Wheaton has a blog? Does he ever talk about Stand by Me?

8. Matt Denault's Lingua Fantastika

9. Yes

10. Someone who examined Ulysses and a Star Wars novel in the same week.

11. No

12. Not all reviews are reviews.

13. Award.

- Zach

Tea and Tomes said...

Interesting questions; got me thinking. I figured that rather than get long-winded and rambly in your comments, I'd just do it on my own blog instead.

Simeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simeon said...

And I replied here:

(sorry, I tried a few different ways, but I can't find the URL tag in Blogger...)

Btw, considering that you wrote at least two of the questions for yourself, when are we gonna see YOUR answers to them? ;)

Larry Nolen said...

Actually, I wrote none of the questions. The first 11 I lifted from Pat's interview with Glen Cook and the other two are from Aidan's interview with Jeff VanderMeer, although that last one was in turn borrowed from Pat.

My answers are simply that I wouldn't answer such an interview ;)

Simeon said...

Can't see why not :)

Anonymous said...

1. How can you tell people about your blog without giving anything away?

My blog is called Cyberpunk Studies. It is about studying Cyberpunk.

2. I wouldn't want to give anything away.

3. My research skills and writing ability.

4. I can't go back in time.

5. Research.

6. I don't have perceptions. I just am.

7. No.

8. None.

9. Some already are scholars with high critical ability respected by those that know them. Who cares about popularity?

10. Legacy? None.

11. No.

12. Objectivity doesn't exist.

13. How much do I get paid?

Harry Markov said...

This should be interesting... I am tempted to be incredibly silly and idiotic or answer to the fullest.

gav ( said...


What’s to give away? The title says most of it. My blog is called Next Read which is my way of exploring my own reading and hopefully inspiring the reading of others.

2. W

I had a very successful short story month in May but I’m not sure if I’d do another without roping in a lot of people. They are a lot of work for one person.

I want to do one on the Women of Genre but it’s building enough material that’s stopping me.


I hope I bring a slightly different perspective as my interests are more on the edges of genre - that might not come across - I also don’t mind offering the odd opinion or two.


You won’t be alone for long and there are going to be hundreds of bloggers for you to read, chat too - it’s not as pointless as you think.


Finding something to read was harder when I started - I wanted to share my experiences. And there were just a few bloggers emerging in the UK but non e that focused on my tastes enough not to have gap. And there is still a gap. I’d happily stop if someone could do my blogging for me.


I was pre-conventions I had to just wing it.


Ummmm pass...

8. M

I get around the place a bit.


I’ve just posted a 4yr old defence of Stephen King to the blog. I couldn’t give a monkey’s XXXX if I get crowned, rewarded, or acclaimed. If I’ve positively added to someone’s reading experiance I’m happy.


He showed me too many books...


I’ve made some interesting posts and arguments where it would have been easier if I could have explained face to face. It might have cleared a few things up but I’m happy to be challenged and to explore things anytime unless as long as the other party is genuinely trying to engage.


Anything that gets you interested in reading over TV, surfing the internet, other parts of life is good. I hope that the internet has provided more ways of finding books beyond what’s physically available at a shops whim.


Not that interested in the BBAW sorry, it’s kudos but not really something I’m doing or chasing. a paid review would hopefully come with an editor and that would be good a talking to yourself and not getting edited can often be a bad thing, Editors can help you shape your message.

Neth said...

somehow I'm just seeing this for the first time tonight. I'm afraid I'm not going to be answering these and am a bit surprised so many did so. I hope at least one or two people who took the time to answer gave it the proper snark that it deserved.

Larry Nolen said...

I'm surprised as well. So far, no snark has been seen, but maybe there's hope for later? :P

Simeon said...

Personally, I just love lexicons in any form. Don't much care what the questions are. But if sarcasm rocks your boat :p

gav ( said...

You mean I was fooled into revealing myself? damn!

Though no-one reads this blog so I'll be fine...

... though I wonder if it shows something for the power of the questions?

Larry Nolen said...

I don't know what it shows. All I know is that I guess even when there are strangely-worded questions, interviewees can make things interesting if they so choose.

James said...

As I said on Twitter, I take everything seriously... especially strangely worded questions that have brought me much amusement in their original forms.

Unknown said...

Interesting questions; got me thinking. I figured that rather than get long-winded and rambly in your comments, I'd just do it on my own blog instead.

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