Book Blogger Q&A: The Bookette

Becky from The Bookette, a fantastic blog focusing on YA and children’s fiction,  kindly agreed to answer some of my questions about her favourite books and authors. In doing so, she became the first person to take part in the Book Blogger Q&A, a series of posts which I hope will become a popular feature at The Book Base.

How long have you been a book blogger?

I started blogging in August 2009. So one  year and eight months. It seems longer.

Approximately, how many books do you read every year?

I think I read about 100 books a year. I tend to read between two and three a week. I challenged myself on Goodreads to read 100 books this year and so far I’m on target.

What were your favourite books as a child?

Winnie the Pooh was a childhood favourite. As was The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. My favourite fairytale was The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I just loved the idea of dancing all night long and hoodwinking your dad, I guess.

What are you reading at the moment?

I just finished Becoming Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty last night. I am rather in awe of said author. I am considering applying to run her fan club. I can’t decide what to start reading today. I am in an indecisive mood.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the last twelve months?

What sort of question is that?! How can one choose just one book? If I have to choose, it would be Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. I feel in love with the ‘star-crossed’ lovers storyline. But it isn’t necessarily the best book but the one I loved the most. That doesn’t make sense. The best book would be Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty. As I have already mentioned, I feel as if I am in the presence of greatness when I read her novels. I don’t usually read contemporary fiction though. My best fantasy read was Firebrand by Gillian Philip. Fantasy is my favourite genre. I am an escapist reader.

Who are your three favourite authors?

Jaclyn Moriarty and Simone Elkeles who I have already mentioned. I also love Rick Riordan the author of Percy Jackson. I have always wanted to discover I have a special power.

Which book has influenced you the most?

Wow. I wish I knew. I think that’s a subjective question. My instinctive answer is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. That book opened my eyes to the world and made me a reader. But I think I should mention my favourite poem here: On the Pulse of Morning by Maya Angelou. I feel as if that peom speaks what I feel about the world and so it hasn’t necessarily influenced me but it communicates everything I believe.

What is your favourite book about books?

Yikes! I am not sure I have one. I certainly have books that are about books but I don’t really read them that much. So I am going to pick a book about writing books: On Writing by Stephen King. That book made me actually get on and do some writing. I am much more organised about writing now.

What advice would you give to new book bloggers?

Oh wow! I could write an essay for this. This is my advice for newbies in a nutshell:

  • Enjoy it! Blogging is fun and a great way to meet like minded people.
  • Review your favourite authors and show them they are appreciated.
  • Be yourself.
  • Try to decide early on what types of books your blog is going to focus on: YA? Fantasy? Crime? Historical?
  • Get involved in memes and challenges – this will help you get to know other bloggers.
  • Join Twitter – this will help you to connect with bloggers, authors and publishers.
  • Review with sensitivity – if you rip an author’s work to pieces, they will most likely find out and they will be hurt. Authors are people too. So write honestly but with consideration.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask more experienced bloggers for advice. I know I am always happy to help.

Which other book blogs do you recommend?

Wondrous Reads – I love Jenny’s blog. It was the first British blog I found and I always think of it as the original and the best.

Portrait of a Woman – I should say I am a little bias here. Caroline is my friend and I met her through blogging but I do love her blog. I always think of Caroline’s blog as intellectual and her reviews are so funny.

The Tales Compendium – This is my favourite Aussie blog. I love Aussie fiction so Jess is one of my sources for finding new titles.

Confessions of a Book Addict – Christina is my book twin. She lives in the US and we love the same books. I follow her recommendations and she costs me a fortune importing US titles.

The Book Zone – Darren’s blog is all about books for boys which is really helpful for me in my capacity as a children’s librarian as I find out all about books I wouldn’t personally be interested in.

Presenting Lenore – Lenore has the coolest themed months. I just really love her blog. I’ve been following her since I started blogging and I think she is the voice of experience and reason.

I could list many more but these are varied highlights from my personal favourites.

Thanks to Becky for giving such great responses to our questions. If you haven’t done so already, check out Becky’s blog, The Bookette, and follow her on Twitter (the_bookette).


A Glimpse at J.K. Rowling’s Writing Method

The movie blog, /Film, recently posted some images of J.K. Rowling’s planning for a couple of chapters of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. To be honest, I was blown away by the level of detail. I knew that J.K. Rowling had plotted the storyline for the whole Harry Potter series before she started to write The Philospher’s Stone, but I hadn’t really considered how complex the planning would have to be in order to keep track of the many subplots.

/Film says that:

She keeps track of all the book’s subplots in every chapter and how they are developing in the real world of the book, even if they aren’t mentioned on the page. So, there’s a full column on “The Prophecy” which is the main subplot Harry is worried about throughout the book. Then there’s a column for the romantic subplot, titled “Cho/Ginny” followed by “D.A.” which follows what’s going on with Harry, Ron and Hermione’s resistance group “Dumbledore’s Army,” one called “O of P,” a column about what’s the latest with the “Order of the Phoenix,” a.k.a, the people who believe Voldemort is still alive, then separate columns for Snape (and others, I can’t read Rowlings writing) and the Hagrid and Grawp story.

Check out part of J.K. Rowling’s plan. I love the way it is written in biro on a rough piece of lined paper. It’s almost as if she had finally worked how all the pieces and strands of her story worked together, and had to record it on whatever was available before she forgot some of the details.

J.K. Rowling Planning Page
J.K. Rowling's Planning

See /Film for larger images.

7 Facts About Dick King-Smith

Here are some facts about Dick King-Smith, the author of some very well-loved children’s books, such as The Sheep Pig (which became the movie Babe) and The Fox Busters.

  1. Dick King-Smith has three grown-up children, Juliet, Lizzie and Giles, and more than ten grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
  2. Before he became a fulltime writer, Dick King-Smith worked as a farmer, a primary school teacher, a shoemaker and a salesman.
  3. The Fox Busters was his first published children’s book.
  4. Dick King-Smith has written more than 100 books for children, most of them featuring animals.
  5. He writes his books in a tiny room at the top of his house, Diamond’s Cottage.
  6. Every morning he writes for two hours in pen on plain white A4 paper. In the afternoon he types out what he’s written.
  7. When he was a farmer, the pigs were Dick’s favourite animals. He even has a bronze statue of a pig in his garden.

Update: Dick King-Smith died on 4th January 2011. He was 88 years old.