Welcome to a new regular feature of interviews with the people behind the science fiction and fantasy blogs and zines that we all read and enjoy so much.
My first guest is John DeNardo, Managing Editor of SF Signal, a speculative fiction blog that has been sharing news, reviews, interviews and lots of other fun stuff for genre fans since 2003. SF Signal is a three-time Hugo Award winner: twice for Best Fanzine and once for Best Fancast. John is also a weekly contributor the Kirkus Reviews Blog, where he writes articles aimed at the mainstream reading masses who don’t realize how much they’d love reading science fiction and fantasy. In between writing articles and editing posts from SF Signal’s spectacular army of contributors, John has been known to fawn over bagels.
SCy-Fy: John, thanks for agreeing to be my first guest. Tell me about a typical blogging day.
JD: A typical blogging day for me consists of: responding to lots of email; organizing interviews, book reviews, guest posts and giveaways; trolling the web for cool things to share with our readers; editing posts from our awesome team of contributors; scheduling the next day’s posts; and sharing stuff on social media.
SCy-Fy: What do you think will be the major challenges for SFF blogging in the future?
JD: Blogging is already a challenge. Newcomers will find it hard to gain an audience. Old hands will find it hard to keep going. Finding your own voice in a sea of blogs is another challenge. I don’t think those challenges will change much.
SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers? For reviewers? Writers?
JD: Understand your motivation for doing what you do. Do you do it because it’s fun? To share your thoughts with others? For money? For experience? To be accepted by a certain group? Knowing your motivation will help you persevere when things get tough.
SCy-Fy: What has kept you going when things have got tough?
JD: There are many times when, looking at all the time and energy and worry that goes into keeping the blog running, it’s tempting to call it quits. What keeps me going is the appreciation expressed by our readers. They like what we do. Contributing to a community is rewarding in and of itself. Our contributors also keep us going. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are.
SCy-Fy: Just between us – your secret list of useful resources?
JD: There are so many great resources for readers, it’s hard to know where to start. We keep a lot of them in our blogroll. Being that there are so many of them, your favourite RSS newsreader is an essential tool for keeping up with sites that are frequently updated.
SCy-Fy: Pitfalls in SFF blogging that are difficult to avoid?
JD: I don’t know that there are any difficult-to-avoid pitfalls in SFF blogging. There are pitfalls, to be sure, but they are no more difficult to avoid than remembering to treat others with kindness.
SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most impact or controversy?
JD: Probably our most popular article posts have been Kate Elliott’s The Omniscient Breasts and Abraham’s Private Letter from Genre to Mainstream. Our roundtable-style interview Mind Meld posts are fairly popular as well. More recently, Jamie Todd Rubin’s Daddy, What’s Dungeons & Dragons? was a reader favorite.
SCy-Fy: Let’s finish with the bottom line. The best books of 2014?
JD: As the blog has grown, so has its demands on my reading time. That means I didn’t read nearly as much as I wanted to. I’m currently in the middle of reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and enjoying it quite a bit. I also really enjoyed The Martian by Andy Weir because that appealed to the problem solving side of my brain. In the “catching up on my reading” category, Dan Abnett’s Ravenor Omnibus was fantastic as well.
SCy-Fy: Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to reading?
JD: Too many to mention! Some great titles are coming our way. How did that age-old perennial “SciFi is dying” song ever get started?
SCy-Fy: Any last words?
JD: Thanks for the interview!
SCy-Fy: Thank you, John.
I really appreciated that opportunity to hear from behind the blog screen and I hope you did, too. Please join me next time.