Interview with Tyson Mauermann (Speculative Book Review)

My guest today is Tyson Mauermann of Speculative Book Review.

SCy-Fy: Tyson, tell me about a typical blogging day.

TM: My typical blogging day happens a few days or a couple of weeks after I have read the book and had a chance to organize my thoughts. I then set down and think about two or three positive aspects regarding the book and, if something stands out at me, one negative aspect that I disliked about the book. I try to downplay the negative whenever possible as I think very highly of every author as I write and know what goes into pouring your soul into a book. It typically takes about 30 minutes to write the review. Because of my busy schedule teaching at a local college, my time on the site has diminished; however, I usually write my reviews months out in advance. New reviews always post to SBR every Tuesday.

SCy-Fy: Which posts of yours have had the most impact or controversy?

TM: I do my best to avoid the online controversies. I just don’t have time to invest in long drawn out diatribes that do no one any good. However, I do post reviews on my site and eventually on Goodreads and one author who is very well known for his sock puppet army harassed me over my negative review of his book. Going so far as to email my wife to “report my behaviour.” She just ignored him as most people do. To date, it has the most likes on Goodreads, which I find humorous.

SCy-Fy: What are your future initiatives for the blog?

TM: I don’t necessarily have initiatives. What I try to do is give new and up and coming authors a venue to be in the spotlight. Self-published and new authors have a hard time finding reviewers and I do my best to help them break out. I try to be approachable for them so they have a place to get reviewed. I still have my favourite mainstream authors who get posted on a regular basis. I also do my best to be honest with every review. I may censor how much I hate a novel, but I will never give a book I disliked a positive review regardless of how other have perceived it.

SCy-Fy: What do you think are and will in the future be the major challenges for SFF blogging?

TM: For me personally, it is finding the time to continue reviewing. My wife and I are getting ready to start a family; between that and work, it will be a challenge to find the time to continue reviewing. However, I think the biggest challenge will be to keep pace with all of the social media. I have never cared how many people I reach. I started reviewing as a way to keep tabs on what I read and what I thought of the book. It gained a little bit of momentum and so I reach more people but for bloggers that are just getting started you have to be savvy with a lot of different ways to reach your audience through several different social media platforms and to me that is a lot to juggle.

SCy-Fy: Sounds like a busy life. What keeps you going in the face of tiredness?

TM: Reading in general. When I get burned out on Science Fiction or Fantasy, I tend to switch genres and subjects to keep going. I tend to take about a week off from reading once a year and that seems to do the trick. Otherwise, my family and friends keep me going in difficult times.

SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers? For reviewers? Writers?

TM: For bloggers and reviewers, continue to hone your craft. There is always something new to learn. You should always put yourself out there. I remember when I lived overseas in Korea and I really wanted one of Mark Lawrence’s books. I emailed the UK publisher for a copy and even though they don’t usually send ARCs (Advanced Reader’s Copy) out of the country, they did it for me. Sometimes you can be surprised with results if you put yourself out there. As for writers, bloggers are busy so give us some time to get to your book. Also, some of our critiques are quite valid as we are also passionate about books and we are only pointing out things that didn’t work for us as readers and reviewers.

SCy-Fy: Such as?

TM: Clichés. As you read and review more and more books you tend to get really good at spotting themes that are used and in some cases overused. I really appreciate a book that doesn’t have the ending spelled out for me in advance. Another pitfall is the taxing info dumps. An author should be able to weave background information through dialogue and other events without huge passages of information taking away from the story; to me that is the mark of a talented writer.

SCy-Fy: Do you have a secret list of useful resources to share with me?

TM: I don’t really have any secret list of useful resources. I am very organized and keep a list of emails for various authors and publishers. If a book I am dying to read is upcoming, I tend to email the right person or find the right person and with luck I get an advance copy of the book. It doesn’t always work but it works a great deal of the time. Other than that, I just do my best to stay honest in my reviews.

SCy-Fy: Now let’s cut to the chase – the best books of 2014?

TM: I didn’t read too many bad books this year. It was a good year for reading. A few standout books would have to be Lawrence’s Prince of Fools, Brennan’s Tainted Blood, Doctorow’s Little Brother, Traitor’s Blade by De Castell, Veil of the Deserter by Salyards, Blood and Iron by Sprunk, Eyes Deep by Tim Marquitz, The Detainee by Liney and I would be remiss if I didn’t include my own story, which was featured in SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror by Cohesion Press (a shameless plug).

SCy-Fy: Shame? Don’t know the meaning of the word. Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to reading?

TM: I have a massive backlog of books that I should have already reviewed and I am doing my best to get to them. So, 2015 isn’t really on my radar yet but I do want to read Abercrombie’s Half the World, Martin and Dozois’ Old Venus, Tregillis’ The Mechanical, and Peter V Brett’s The Skull Throne.

SCy-Fy: Any last words?

TM: Thanks for having me. It was unexpected when I received the invitation and it was enjoyable to reminisce about how I got started and where it is going. This is a unique feature not found on other blogs and it should be interesting to see all of the other bloggers’ answers.

SCy-Fy: I’m looking forward to their answers as well. Thanks, Tyson, and good luck with everything.

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