There are so many book bloggers on the internet that if you laid them all end to end they’d reach to Alpha Centauri and back – but how do you know whether the reviews on any one site will match your own tastes? One way might be to find out a little more about the people behind them. And so I present The Book Blogger Files – a series of interviews with the literary enthusiasts behind the keyboards. Today I’m speaking to Anya, who reviews SF and Fantasy on her blog On Starships and Dragonwings.
Who are you, where are you in the world, and what inspired you to get started with book blogging?
I’m a graduate student in Computer Science in Michigan, though I lived my life in Minnesota up until grad school. I started book blogging because I wanted to try out this crazy blogging thing and could only think of one hobby that I was unlikely to ever get tired of: reading!
Where did the name ‘On Starships and Dragonwings’ come from?
My blog was originally called ‘About The Story,’ but when I switched to self-hosted, I wanted a name that fit me better – I realized I no longer only cared about the story! My genres of choice are sci-fi and fantasy, so I wanted a name that incorporated both of them. I basically decided that I most enjoy escaping ‘on starships and dragonwings’, so that became the name!
What is it about SF/Fantasy that appeals to you over other genres?
The imaginative quality of SF/F makes my brain feel happy. I love discovering through books new worlds that are just so much more interesting than ours. A good magic system (or advanced technology) is so much fun to learn about and try to figure out before the author has explained all the finer details. I have to admit that I’ve only tried a couple of contemporaries, but I just kept thinking to myself, ‘You know what would be awesome here? A dragon!’
What do you do when you’re not reading?
Research! Since I’m starting my second year of my PhD program I’m still taking classes and working on my research most of the time. That involves a lot of reading academic material and writing and testing things on the computer. I also of course have to spend time with the boyfriend (he gets whiny otherwise) and we’ve gotten into exploring all the state parks in Michigan (there are a lot!).
What’s your favourite thing about running your site?
Reading books :D. I am a very goal-oriented person, so I love that blogging gives me an excuse to read books, so I feel productive even when I’m relaxing. I’m pretty sure I would forget to read otherwise and not take enough breaks from working.
What book or series do you wish more people had read?
Timber Wolves by Tammy Blackwell. The first book is Destiny Binds and it’s awesome. I met Tammy last year and as soon as I mentioned that I was a book blogger, she handed me her first book. I started reading it immediately and fell in love with her writing. It’s an excellent example of what self-publishing should be, since she obviously invested the necessary editing and polishing. If you like YA urban fantasy, then you have to read this series.
You mention on your site that you’re a member of the United Fantasy Bloggers’ Assembly – what’s that then?
So I actually joined UFBA fairly late in the game. I was emailed by a friend about this small club that was forming and invited to join. The main goals are to discuss fantasy books that we love in a smaller environment than the blogosphere and to be mutually supportive of each other. We promote each other’s giveaways and reference each other’s reviews when appropriate. It’s basically a fantasy blogger club similar to those on Goodreads that has a goal of staying small, and we happen to use Google Groups to stay connected.
Got any up and coming SF or Fantasy authors/publishers we should keep an eye on?
I’m reading The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjel right now and am really liking it. It’s a Middle Grade (8-12) fantasy that has all the whimsy that I like to see in MG. There are also interior illustrations which are always awesome additions. I think Narnia fans are going to enjoy it a lot from what I’ve read so far.
What’s the first book you remember loving?
Haha, time is fairly fluid in my memory, so there are no guarantees about ‘first’ here… However, my dad read The Hobbit to me when I was fairly young and I remember loving all the different voices he did for the characters. That was probably my first real exposure to fantasy beyond the magical silliness in Dr. Seuss books. That exposure led to frequent silliness while walking through the woods, since I would ask him about good places for hobbit holes and where pixies may be hiding.
How do you feel about eBooks (as opposed to print)?
I have a hard time paying normal prices for eBooks, so I pretty much only have galleys and freebies on my Kindle. That keeps me very well stocked, however, so I don’t feel the need to buy any more. I love using my e-reader when working out, since the elliptical is not friendly to print books!
And finally, you’re currently accepting dystopian/sci-fi and fantasy books for review – is there anything new or different you’d like to see from those?
You know how urban fantasy is set in today’s world (or near future) but with fantasy elements? I want to see those worlds minus a couple thousand years. How did prehistoric werewolves and vampires and wizards interact with prehistoric humans? Beyond that one question, I’ve gotten to the point that I’ve read so many sci-fi and fantasy books that I just want anything new or different. I want to read about advanced technology that I haven’t read about a million times already (spaceships are so last week, hehe). I want to read about fantasy creatures beyond the traditional or the traditional with a new twist. I especially have been loving genre-benders that combine sci-fi and fantasy elements a la Pern, etc. My one caveat to this is that when a new idea comes along, it better be fleshed out well eventually. This is where nice long series come in handy since all sorts of aspects of a magic system or technology can be explored!
If you want to read more from Anya, check out her blog here or find her on Twitter @OnStarshipsBlog!