This weeks Blog Love comes to you from Stephanie Campisi at Read In A Single Sitting, based in Melbourne. Read In A Single Sitting, often abbreviated to RIASS, is filled with many wonderful links related to all things books. Head over and check out the site and feel free to let her know we sent you.
Welcome to Beauty and Lace Stephanie and thanks for participating.
How did you get started as a book blogger?
I came to book blogging after the book club I was a part of began to slowly wind down to the point that we were only meeting every few months. Disaster! I read pretty voraciously and tend to be quite opinionated about what I read, so I really missed the opportunity to be able to discuss books and bookish things with other like-minded people. Strangely enough, not many of my close friends or family are readers, and my poor husband has to endure enough book talk as it is, so I went looking for another outlet where I could talk freely and at length about books.
Read in a Single Sitting started out just as a way for me to log my reading and note down my thoughts about the books I read, but it’s definitely grown since then–and I have as well. It’s great to be able to go back and see my thoughts on a book I read a few years ago, and to see how much I’ve changed as a reader over time.
What is your background?
My background is in languages and linguistics, but I worked in academic and educational publishing while at uni, and for a few years after graduation as well. I’ve always been a writer, though–even at uni I was always writing and submitting my work, and managed to have several dozen short fiction pieces published while at uni, and some articles as well. (Let’s not talk about the rejections, shall we?)
Anyway, after a few years working for a couple of large publishing companies I decided to branch out on my own as a freelance writer doing feature writing and copywriting. This year I’ve refocused my attention back to my fiction, and things seem to be going pretty well. I’ve recently signed with an agent, and my first book is currently out on submission, so fingers crossed!
But has my blogging influenced my writing or vice-versa? Absolutely. Taking the time to think critically about the books I read has been a huge help to my writing–and to my reading as well!
Tell us about your blog?
Although the site came about as a way for me to deal with my crumbling book club, the actual direction of the site was influenced by my reading habits at the time: huge fat books of Important Literary Merit.
But as much as I love literary fiction, after slogging through some Herman Hesse and some Dostoyevsky and a few other chunky books I was yearning for some short, fun reads. So I decided to gear my blog in that direction. It’s been great as it’s encouraged me to pick up books in all sorts of genres I wouldn’t have otherwise–romance and mysteries, for example.
In addition to reviews, I also regularly post interviews with authors whose work I enjoy, and write the occasional feature as well. I also run a daily “bookish news” feature where I summarise the various bookish links I’ve come across in my travels about the web. Basically, I like to talk about books!
Is blogging a hobby or a job for you?
A hobby, but it’s definitely one that informs my work as a writer. It’s been key in letting me keep on top of trends in my chosen genre, and also to see how things are changing and developing in publishing.
I’ve developed a wonderful network of blogger friends as well as close relationships with publicists, editors, writers and other bookish people, and I can’t emphasise how much I value the opportunity to be able to work with and alongside so many individuals who are so passionate about books and stories.
What is your favourite book of all time?
I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about this question. It’s a bit like asking a painter what their favourite colour is, really. There are so many that I love, and the ones that I love most of all are the ones that tie in with my various reading experiences. It’s like a big, loopy network of books!
That said, some of my childhood favourites are coming to mind, partly because I re-read a handful of them last year and was delighted to see that they not only measured up to, but that they often even surpassed my expectations! So let’s say The Little Prince, The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables.
What are you currently reading?
A few things at the moment, actually. I’ve just finished The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens–a book he was halfway through when he died–and I’m currently reading Barbara Shapiro’s The Art Forger and Victoria Routledge’s The Secrets of St Dee. Ask me in a day’s time and that answer will be different again! I try to mix it up in terms of genres, and to throw some classics into the mix as well.
Which author would you most like to meet and why?
I might be a bit strange in saying this, but I’m quite happy to let authors remain those mysterious figures behind their books. I think with the whole cult of the celebrity thing that we have going on, the line between the author and their work is blurred enough as it is, and I’m definitely in this for the books first and foremost.
…All right, so I’m a bit afraid that they might turn out to be terribly scary and then I won’t want to read their books any more!
That said, the authors I have met have all been lovely–certainly not the angsty curmudgeons we might imagine. I guess those ones stay at home rather than going out to meet people!
What book would you like to see made into a movie?
I thought about this for the longest time, and honestly I’m still not sure. I suppose I’m one of those people who feels that the book is always superior to its film adaptation, so I always worry that a film version might result in the destruction of something I love!
Still, it would have to be something quietly beautiful, I think, and where scenery and setting are very important, as those elements can really come to life in a film.
What future plans do you have for your blog?
I’m pretty happy continuing on as I am, although I’d like to be able to host more features and interviews than I currently do–unfortunately it’s all to do with how much time I have available in my schedule!
The review side of things is something I’m going to have to rethink if my books do get signed, as obviously there are potential conflicts of interest involved in reviewing your peers. It’s also hugely time-consuming, far more so than the other types of posts.
Probably what will happen down the track is that I’ll shift the focus of the reviews more towards analyses than critiques, look more at features and interviews, and perhaps bring on board some more guest reviewers to help with the transition.
And, you know, sign some mega blogging deal where sponsors throw money at me and I get to ride around in a chauffer-driven car.
Name 3 of your favourite blogs?
Only three? Oh dear. There are probably a few dozen that I visit on a daily basis, so it’s tough to narrow it down!
Here are some of the more unusual ones on my list that your readers might not have come across:
Bookriot.com: it is what it sounds like–a new but effusive and boisterous site that’ll have you falling in love with books all over again. There’s some great writing from a cluster of excellent contributors, too.
The Uncustomary Book Review: This isn’t your typical book review site, as you might have guessed from the name. It’s run by a group of authors who write their reviews as though they’re having a chat with a reader, and the reviews are written as they read the book rather than after having finished the book.
Cynsations: Cynthia Leitich Smith is a children’s author who runs an amazing blog brimming with all sorts of industry news, handy links and great features. It’s a great site for readers who dabble in writing (or do so professionally) as well.
What does being a book blogger mean to you?
I was surprised to find how blogging so easily becomes much more than a hobby. I’ve gone from considering myself someone who likes reading and enjoys writing to seeing myself as someone who’s informed and I guess authoritative (although by no means expert) about books, literature and publishing.
I’ve made so many new friends and have had so many great experiences through running the site–it’s a labour of love, but definitely a fun one!