#TastyLitTuesday Very first #AsktheReader interview! With @baileykelsey

Well there are hundreds of thousands of interviews of people interviewing authors on books, and I thought to myself…why not interview readers too? After all, they are the ones buying the books. I think at least for me, this will help my writing knowing what the readers want. So, without further ado, here’s Bailey!

I really hate writing brief descriptions about myself because I never know what to say. Well, here are, I guess, the pertinent facts:
I’m 20-something, I’m female, and I live in Texas, for all that people like to imply with those basic facts.
I am very academically and personally interested in the entertainment arts — books, movies, and especially, TV shows.
I have just embarked on a new book project that, for now, I am keeping very close to the chest. I will give you the first exclusive about this project, though: my research is closely focused around death row policies in the United States.
I’m terrified of butterflies, and no, that’s just some made up quirk. I run away from them on instinct and people inevitably laugh.

1. How often would you say you read, per week? Per month?
I actually keep an updated list of everything I read in a year, listed by month, on my blog here — http://baileyiswriting.blogspot.com/p/bailey-reads-2011.html
— and the list is appropriately titled, Bailey Reads 2011. Because this is my most often asked question.

Truthfully, it depends on the month and the week. If you look at that list, you’ll see April has been absolutely abysmal for me reading-count-wise, but I think that’s because I devoured 11 books in March. Also, April marked the beginning of a new book project for me, so I’ve spent more time researching, planning, and writing than reading. At the early stages of a book project, I’m always a little afraid if I read too much, all my ideas will be stolen and not original. So I read entirely different genres and not very much at all.

2. Have you always been reading or did you just get into it?
My mother taught me how to read when I was 2 ½ and I asked to learn how to write at 3. So yes, I’ve always been a very engaged reader. As a teen, my parents used to ban me taking books places with me because I would sneak off to bathrooms to read instead of socialize.

3. What is it that you love most about books? Why do you read?

Oh man, that’s not an easy question to answer. Over the years, I’ve loved books and reading for a dozen different reasons. In elementary school, reading was this novel (pun intended) and new thing to me. I was obsessed with reading historical fiction and books about animals because historical time periods and the animal kingdom were completely different, but very real, worlds for me to learn about. Books allowed me to engage with worlds that were otherwise unimaginable to me.

In middle school and high school, reading was very much an escape. Like every 11 – 17 year old, there were days and weeks I just wanted to be anywhere but my own life. Not for any dramatic reason, but because that’s a time when we’re imaging all that we can and should be. We’re growing up and books shape us in unmeasurable ways. I read and shaped myself after book characters, sometimes to the betterment of myself and sometimes to the detriment of myself, but I learned a lot about being a human by reading.

Through college and still now, reading is more about writing. I’ve grown very serious about my writing over the last 18 months, and reading is most about studying the craft: how am I pulled into a story? emotionally and psychically touched by a story? how did the author get those reactions from me? when did I cry? laugh? what dialogue made me cry and laugh? It’s equal parts getting caught up in a great book and getting caught up in a great craft.

4. Do you stick to one kind of genre, like paranormal, murder or fantasy? Or do you like to mix it up?

I have read pretty much every genre, but I generally read paranormal or fantasy mysteries. I guess if I had to come up with a genre name, that’d be it. I’m also a very huge fan of historical-set fiction, as well as contemporary fiction, especially if it addresses the integration of technology into our lives in some way.

5. What is your ultimate favorite genre?
At the moment, I’m on a young adult contemporary fiction or apocalyptic fiction kick. I’ve been reading a lot of paranormal mystery and paranormal romance for the last three months, so it’s time to mix it up. More adult fiction has been dropped onto my reading piles, as well.

6. Is there any genre you refuse to read? Why so?
No, but I generally don’t read romance unless it’s combined with another genre, nor do I read a lot of pure, hard science-fiction.

7. Anything you hate about reading?
After many, many hours, it causes eye-strain and headaches. This would probably be a non-issue if I wore my reading glasses, but I misplace them often.

8. Do you skim? If so, what kind of scenes do you find yourself skimming?
Yes, this does happen. Usually lengthy descriptions of places. Sometimes this is to my detriment, and I have to go back and reread paragraphs to get a physical layout in mind. Sometimes it doesn’t make a difference at all.

9. What was the last book you recommended to a friend? Why did you love it so much?
I . . . don’t have a clue. The last book recommended to me was Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta). My little sister recommended it to me, and it’s by far the best book that’s ever been recommended to me. I absolutely adore this book.
So here, my next (and therefore last) book recommendation: if you haven’t read Jellicoe Road, do so immediately.

10. Do you ever tell your friends if a book sucked?
Yes. But only my friends. I don’t advertise my dislike of books openly on the Internet or anything. This year, I’ve only found one book I couldn’t finish.

11. If you think a book sucks, do you read it in hopes it gets better or do you stop reading it?
Heh, I think I just answered this question, but I’ll answer it in more detail. I have a 50-100 page rule.
If I’m not hooked by page 50, I’ll give the book until page 100
to make it up to me somehow. Which is obviously a very situational rule, but like I said in the question above, this year, I’ve only found one book I just couldn’t finish. Another book hooked me on page 72, once all the complicated (but very necessary) world and character building had been, well, built.
So the rule has practical implications, I swear.

12. Whose your favorite author, and what would you ask them if you could meet them?

I don’t have one favorite author (I don’t know anyone who does). However, two of my favorite authors are long dead–Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy. I don’t know what I’d ask them. Maybe what they think of all the television, movie, and book adaptations of their classic works. That would be interesting to know.
Of favorite living authors, I have met Richelle Mead (author of the Vampire Academy series, and two adult series) and I did ask her questions. Something about writing both young adult and adult fiction, and her opinion on authors who choose to write under a pseudonym for one. It’s a pertinent question for someone who wants to write both adult and young adult books.

I have also had the pleasure to meet Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Rachel Caine (twice), Kelley Armstrong, Alyson Noel, Melissa Marr, John Green, and David Levithan. I’d admire them all and I definitely asked questions, but I can’t remember what.
I would still like to meet Laurie Halse Anderson (young adult/middle grade), Laurell K. Hamilton (adult), and Jim Butcher (adult). Also, if I ever have the opportunity to meet J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins, I’ll probably just hug them.

((Claire’s note: I’ve been hearing Cassandra Clare’s name a lot, I think I’ll have to check her out!))

13. What is your number one pet-peeve that writers do that you wish they didn’t?

I don’t really know if I have a number one pet-peeve. I think when I find annoyances, the annoyance is usually specific to a narration-style and plot-arc. But since that’s a completely cop-out answer, I will say that sometimes a narrative style feels forced onto the narrative voice.
First-person fiction has always been popular, but lately it feels like a minor miracle if I can get my hands on third-person limited, and especially third-person multiple, narrations. I would love to have more books told from multiple viewpoints; I love the depth and additional plot lines that a multiple-third-person narration style can handle.

((Claire’s note: you get a cookie for describing my writing style on the last point there!))

14. What is your favorite thing that an author can do to enhance a story or character?

I will always love character-driven stories the most, and knowing the small, quirky tidbits about those characters makes them very real to me.
For example, did you know Jace Wayland-Lightwood-Herondale from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series likes mangoes and tomato soup? I only learned this about him in the fourth book, but learning something new about individual characters each book makes me feel like I have a reader-character relationship. OK, that sounds kind of creepy, but I do think readers should connect to characters in ways similar to how we connect to real people. It’s always thrilling to find something out about a person I’ve known for years, to realize I still have so much I can know about them.

((Claire’s note: I totally get what you mean, and it doesn’t sound creepy at all! It must be a successful author when the author has the characters living in the readers heads as well as their own))

15. When you read, are you watching TV or doing something else too, or are you 100% focused on the book?

That just depends. Usually I have background noise of some kind, and most often that noise is either FIFA ‘11 on the Xbox 360 or of NPR.

16. Does your mind wonder on other things while reading, or does it wonder to the story you’re reading?

Sometimes both, sometimes neither. I do have those reading moments where I have to read the same paragraph six times because my mind is just preoccupied somewhere else. And sometimes when I read, I’m struck by something that will help my own writing project along, usually a narrative or dialogue trick. In those instances, I give up on reading and switch to writing.

17. Where do you prefer to read, library, home, coffee house or outside? And do you read via an e-book or old school hard copy?

I read, very literally, everywhere. I can’t go anywhere without a book, including soccer scrimmages and church (during which I obviously don’t read). But anytime I am caught without a book, I find myself with 15 or 20 spare minutes of complete boredom that could be better spent in someone else’s world.
I read both old-school hard copies and on a Nook. Before my Nook, I owned a Sony Reader. I think that e-books are fantastic, especially since I travel so much. There is nothing like being able to haul all my old favorites and a back-log of unread books around on one simple device. Of course, I also inevitably take a solid book or two along as well, but I just like books too much not to over-pack them.

18. Do you drink coffee or tea while reading? If so what’s your favorite kind?

Both. I also drink water, or juice, or soda while reading. I also eat while reading. I can do most things while reading, including run (on a treadmill) and knit (though, not well).
My current favorite kind of coffee is this local grocery store brand of Moka Java. It’s delicious with just a splash of milk (my preferred way to drink coffee, so I judge all coffee at this level). My current favorite kind of tea is also the local grocery store brand of lemon & black tea. I’m too lazy to put my own lemon in tea, so this solves that problem for me. They also have orange & black tea and cinnamon & black tea. And my oldest stand-by tea is Earl Grey with a splash of milk. I just like milk in hot drinks, I guess.

And finally, on Twitter, Claire E. Smith suggested I might add my own book-reading related question. So I thought I ought to accept this challenge (her questions are fantastic, though, aren’t they?). And I would like to know Claire’s answer to this, as well, as a fellow writer and reader.

If you could be in charge of adapting any one book to a movie (so try not to choose a series), which book would you want to work with?
For me, it’s most definitely Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I just read that book this past week and I think that, done correctly, it could be a mini-television series. At least, that’s how I began envisioning the adaptation in my head. Because I do that with most things I read. Nothing too long and nothing straying too far off plot, but the characters are deep, the problems are real, and the action is just unique and quirky.

Claire’s answer: I would change Harry Potter five and NOT have the Weasley house burn down. I hate it when characters are tortured just for the sake of torturing and then not make a point to mention that torture again in the future. Pain for the characters should be to drive the plot or character arc futher or not at all. Great question Bailey, readers – what are your answer to which movie adaption would you revise?

Bailey, thanks again sooooooooo much for helping me with this! I’m glad people think it’s a good idea. I’m super happy you’re the first, and thanks for inviting your friend for next week! You rock!!

Do you have a blog or website? I’d love to add it to my blogroll 🙂
Yes, I have a blog here — http://baileyiswriting.blogspot.com/ — and an about.me website here — http://about.me/baileyiswriting — that is currently down, but I can get you that link as well. That links to every place I am on the Internet. It’s quite handy.

And of course, Twitter: @baileykelsey.

Readers – I highly recommend you visiting Bailey’s blog! Her 30 Days of Vlogging (not yet watched them all) are very funny. And she’s a Modcloth fan!! Think I found a new friend for sure 🙂

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2 thoughts on “#TastyLitTuesday Very first #AsktheReader interview! With @baileykelsey

  1. This is is too awesome! Thanks so much for the interview, Claire!

    Yes, you should check out Cassandra Clare. I rather enjoy her books. Paranormal mystery-romance-thriller to the max, and she really kicks you in the gut with twists.

    Also, that’s HP6 in which the Burrow burns, but yes, I agree. I understood the vague reasoning (to really bring home the horror, quite literally), but pretty sure the book does that when the Death Eaters show up at Hogwarts (which is another scene that was completely ruined, by the way).

    Thanks again for interviewing me! I’m glad you’re catching up and enjoying my 30 Days of Vlogging (my sister and I are launching a new vlog challenge in May), and oh yes, I love ModCloth. Five years in clothing retail has made me oddly fashion-forward. Or, rather, I try to be fashion-forward.


  2. Look, it’s Bailey!

    This interview was a great idea. It is awesome to see the viewpoint from a reader for once.

    I think I completely missed the fact that Jace likes mangoes and tomato soup while reading City of Fallen Angels, so I’ll have to go back and read again! Bailey, if you were ever awarded the honor of turning my favorite book into a television mini-series, I would critique your every decision so hard, because I am a terrible little sister like that. I love that book way too much.

    Claire, this was great to read! Thank you for holding the interview! Those were brilliant questions.


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