So without further ado and before you get sidetracked by my latest John Connelly book, Elaine, would you like to give folks an insight into who you are? i.e. job, hobbies, life in general, and tell us why you love books.
Ha ha, Babs, you know as much about me as I do! I live in the coquet valley in a small village but was originally a “Townie” born in Wallsend and living in North Tyneside most of my life. My husband’s family come from this neck of the woods. I met him while I was doing a part time job as a barmaid in a rugby club. I was working full time in the civil service but needed extra money to keep the horse I owned at the time. We have lived here for 20 years now so almost a local. I have a part time job in a residential home for Adult Males as a support worker. It’s never dull and more rewarding than the civil service although not half as well paid. I have become quite lazy as far as hobbies go, being very fond now of reading, (of course) I love to spend time with friends and family and in particular my 15 year old son although he is at that age where parents are definitely not cool. I also love opera and used to be very fond of drawing and intend to try and get back to doing this. I also absolutely love horses and have owned two, unfortunately not at the moment. I have a cat, a guinea pig and six fish, animal crackers you could say.
Can you tell us what your favoured genre is? Or are you an eclectic reader?
I have to say I will read most things although I suppose my main preferences are for Crime and Historical Fiction, but anything is fair game. I particularly like books with a kind of supernatural vibe so Bedlam is probably my favourite of your books, Babs. Books have always taken me to a different world. When I was young I remember sitting behind the settee at my Grans reading and everyone left for a train trip to the seaside, they had to come back for me when they got to the station and realised I was not with them. I was totally unaware that they had left and was still in the same place reading when they came back for me. I must have been about eight. I don’t read romance books of the Mills and Boon, Barbara Cartland ilk, though I sometimes I enjoy books written particularly for women (I hate the term chick lit, I think it demeans the content somehow) I won’t touch those tragic life books they just are not for me.
Give us your 5 favourite books if you can?
That is a really hard question as I have so many books I have really loved but if I am pushed I would say ‘Black Beauty’ by Anna Sewell, probably one of the first books ever written to make a social issue of cruelty to animals, and a great read for a pony mad youngster. (I might also say the ‘My friend Flicka’ books were a favourite as well)
‘Lord of the Rings’, I read that when I was about 11 and what a great journey that was! Although I have to say I skipped some of the poetry to get to the action. (I still have my original copy, a favourite of mine too, Elaine. Nothing at all to do with me being Hobbit sized!)
‘The Last Ride’ by Thomas Eidson, this is one you introduced me to, Babs. The story of a man estranged from his family, living as an Apache, who helps his daughter to recapture his lost granddaughter from Indians. A brilliantly written and almost poetic book I love it (and still have not returned it to you!) (Yes, I had noticed!)
‘Jack’ by Brian Carter, this is the original war horse if you like, but for adults. I bought this one as an out of print hardback from a cheap pile in a tent at an agricultural show and what a bargain it was. The story is of a young Irish lad living in Devon working on a farm. His favourite mare is taken by the army for the first world war. Jack joins up to try to find and be with his horse. Beautifully written and a real description of social values at the time. Unfortunately out of print but still obtainable on Amazon I think. I treasure this because it reminds me of the bond you can establish with a horse which until it is experienced is not really explainable, but this book does a fantastic job.
My last choice is ‘Tracks’ by Robin Davidson, which again I bought over 10 years ago as a tattered hard back from a church jumble. A true story of a woman who sets out to cross the deserts of the Australian Outback with 4 camels and a dog. It is both sometimes hilarious and also very sad in parts just like life, but what a story and what a journey.
Do you have a favourite author?
You are of Course!! (ha ha the tenner’s in the post) I also like Phillipa Gregory, Stephen King, George Shuman, James Patterson, Phil Rickman, and loads of others. I could actually more easily say which Authors I would not pick up.
Phil Rickman’s ‘The Remains of An Altar’ (part of the Merrily Watkins Mysteries)
The first book of Phil Rickman’s that I read was Candlenight, really atmospheric and a good story so I read his as I come across them. I found the one I am reading now in a charity shop.
How many books would you normally read in a month?
As many as I can! At least four or five I would say, but that is slow for me, I used to be able to read a book in a day, alas I do not have that sort of time now
Which do you prefer e-books or paperbacks?
I don’t mind at all but I have to say I would never buy a cookery book as an e-book, I do have a weakness for cookery books, especially the ones with some sort of narrative in them and I love to write notes in them because I am a devil for making changes and additions to recipes.
Do you have an e-reader, if so, which one?
I have a kindle and it is the devil’s work ha ha. I feel guilty at having so many unread books on it and then being sidetracked by a book I’ve bought at a charity shop or something.
Where do you usually buy books, online, bookshops or other?
I buy them anywhere, anyhow, I am not precious about it I have to say. I do think that the good thing about the e-book is that authors who may not have been published are now easily and economically accessible which is great for readers and writers alike. Having said that I am still particular about what I download onto my device.
Do you use your local library?
I used to use the library a lot but don’t now because of a change in my lifestyle and the limited hours our library is open which makes it more difficult to visit.
If a book you wanted to read wasn’t available on your reading device what would you do? Download an app? Borrow from the library or choose a different book?
I still have my library card and if I wanted to read a book I couldn’t get hold of on my Kindle I would use the library.
What first attracts you to a book by an unknown author? Cover, Blurb, Recommendation? Are you influenced by publisher name?
The Blurb is the first thing I suppose, although it depends where you are choosing them. If I’m looking in a shop I will choose depending on cover, author, blurb or a combo of everything. Once I pick the book up I look at the first paragraph to see if it grabs me. Publishers don’t mean a lot to me, the book’s the thing.
What puts you off?
I won’t read about children being murdered or tortured which has put me off reading the sequel to The Shining, a book I really enjoyed. I am happy to read a book with a gentle pace if that is the right thing for the story but I do not like procrastination in books which should be moving along such as adventure or crime. Other than that I am not a fan of anything which is too graphic in either sexual or violence descriptions, I think authors should be able to credit their readers with some imagination
What do you think is fair price for a novel length e-book/paperback?
I balk at paying a lot of money for an e-book. They do not cost as much to publish so I think that publishers are sometimes making money that the writers do not see. I might pay up to £3 if I don’t know the author and as for famous authors I usually wait and buy books from the charity shop. You don’t wait long these days before fairly new books are recycled. If I was to buy a new paperback it would probably be about £8.00 before I had the internal conversation with myself as to whether I can afford it. (that’s over an hours pay for me)
After reading a book do you ever leave a review? Only when you really enjoy it? Only when you really didn’t enjoy it?
I would be very much more likely to leave a good review, often the enjoyment of a story is subjective, one man’s meat etc. I feel a bit guilty that I have really enjoyed some e-books and have not left a review mainly down to time it has to be said, I must fix that. I have left a couple of bad ones, but I have to say they really needed it! Both had lots of happy readers but I was not one of them so I did not feel too bad about saying what I thought (in the politest possible way of course) I admire authors and their imagination, I love to read and I am grateful that there are people who love to write.
Are you influenced by other reader’s reviews?
Not really although some of the reviews I have read have been better than the book! They may make me more likely to look inside the book if they are on an e-book platform but on the whole I like to make up my own mind.
Do you recommend books you’ve enjoyed to friends?
I do if I have enjoyed a particular book in a genre they enjoy, and I loan books to people (although only if I am fairly sure I will get them back) I also recycle a lot of books to charity etc as I don’t keep all those I buy.
Are you a member of any reader groups, book clubs i.e. Goodreads?
I have a Goodreads account but don’t use it very often.
Do you subscribe to any e-book promo newsletters? If so which ones?
I do get emails from the CRA (Crime Readers Association) but I have to say I see lots of promotions on Facebook via your page Babs and do download some of them although not all (back to the unread e-book guilt)
I mentioned earlier that Elaine and I go back a long way and share many memories. Well here’s one ... Whitley Bay, late seventies. Happy days! And here’s to many more.