Interview with Mieneke van der Salm (A Fantastical Librarian)

Today I’ll be talking to Mieneke van der Salm, the blogger behind A Fantastical Librarian. Mieneke works as an information specialist at a university library. In her free time she aims to create her own library at home and, together with her husband, raise two little geek girls. She blogs about her reading adventures at A Fantastical Librarian and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in 2014. You can find her on Twitter at @Pallekenl

SCy-Fy: An easy one (perhaps) to start with – tell me about a typical blogging day.

MVDS: A typical blogging day at my house means a lot of interrupted review writing. With two girls aged four and two, I often stop mid-sentence in the review or email I’m writing or the book I’m reading, to solve another crisis usually involving who gets to play with which My Little Pony or who is Elsa instead of Anna today. So I usually read in the mornings before work, write up a quick outline of my review during my lunch break at work and finish it off at night after the kids are in bed and then more reading of course.

SCy-Fy: Nothing easy about that! What are your future plans for the blog, Mieneke?

MVDS: In 2015 I’m going to run another round of Blogger Queries with some of the newer (to me) bloggers out there. I first ran the series in 2012 and it was one of my more popular series. It resembled this feature and was a great way to learn more about the bloggers I’d been interacting with. Since that time a lot of new voices have emerged, so I thought it was time to do an update. I’m also doing a Jonathan Kellerman-reread. Kellerman is a crime author I’ve loved for years and whose work I’d gotten a bit behind on. Thanks to his UK publisher my collection of his work is almost complete and since it has been a while since I’ve read his earlier books, I decided to do a bi-weekly reread of his books in 2015.

SCy-Fy: Looking forward 3-5 years, what do you think will be the major challenges for SFF blogging?

MVDS: Probably the same challenges as today. Trying to find an audience and, more importantly, your own voice. Finding a balance between being friendly with authors and publishers and turning into an unpaid publicity mouthpiece without your own opinion. Discovering what sort of blogging schedule works best for you.

SCy-Fy: What is your most useful resource?

MVDS: This is going to sound clichéd, but honestly I think Twitter, together with the blogs in my newsfeed reader, is my best source of information these days. It’s a great way to keep up with what is going on and discover articles from blogs other than the ones I follow.

SCy-Fy: Hard-to-spot pitfalls in SFF blogging that are difficult to avoid?

MVDS: I don’t know whether it’s a hard-to-spot pitfall, but I think every blogger that receives (unsolicited) review copies will encounter the feeling of “OMG I HAVE to read all these books” and feeling guilty at not getting to them in a timely fashion at least once. I used to get really stressed about it – and still do on occasion – but I have to remind myself that I don’t have to read all of them, my blog is not my job, and publishers appreciate reviews at a later stage just as much as those right around publication date. Any other pitfalls should be easily avoided by just using your common sense and being kind to others and yourself.

SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?

MVDS: This great community I’ve been part of over the past five years. Also, just taking a break now and then and consciously deciding to not do any reviewing for a few days. And most importantly, the fact that my husband sometimes just sends me off with my laptop to work on the blog while he minds the girls.

SCy-Fy: Good man! The best books of 2014?

MVDS: Keeping it within the SFF spheres – as I also read and review a lot of historical fiction, crime and YA books – my favourites this year have been Sarah Lotz’s The Three, which was just amazingly structured and creepy; Kim Curran’s Glaze, which is an SF YA novel dealing with the fallout of a new social media iteration that is literally implanted in your brain.

SCy-Fy: Scary.

MVDS: It’s a fabulous story and I was very much blown away by this standalone effort by Curran. There were so many stunning books, but ones that I’ll just quickly mention are Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem, Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs, Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire and Corinne Duyvis’ Otherbound.

SCy-Fy: Which forthcoming releases are you most looking forward to reading?

MVDS: Sarah Lotz’s Day Four (the sequel to The Three), Brian Staveley’s The Providence of Fire, the second in his trilogy, Peter Newman’s The Vagrant, Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings, and James Smythe’s Way Down Dark. And one I’ve already read, but which I’m looking forward to seeing other reactions to once it is released, is Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library, which is awesome fun.

SCy-Fy: So there’s already a lot on the list for next year. Any last words?

MVDS: Thanks for having me. I hope you’ll have a great and bookish 2015!

SCy-Fy: Thank you, Mieneke, and the same to you.

5 thoughts on “Interview with Mieneke van der Salm (A Fantastical Librarian)

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