My guest today is Nathan, site manager and one of the reviewers for Fantasy Review Barn, a joint blog dealing with everything under the speculative fiction umbrella. He is known for a bit of snark, a lot of reviews, and hosting the popular Tough Travels meme dealing with common tropes found in fantasy literature. Fantasy Review Barn has won no awards which makes Nathan wonder where all of his bribes have been going.
SCy-Fy: An easy one to start with, Nathan – tell me about a typical blogging day.
FRB: I read anytime but writing for the blog starts once I have the kid down for bed. Usually my wife and I will finish the day with a little TV and I will be typing away in the background. Typically I write for an hour four or five nights a week.
SCy-Fy: What are your future initiatives for the blog?
FRB: Nothing really crazy going on. For so long the blog focused on reviews. Last year I added the Tough Travelling feature that proved to be quite popular; dealing with common tropes in fantasy. This year I hope to do more of the ‘traditional’ blogger things; author interviews and giveaways. Also a few more genre related essays if a proper topic presents itself.
SCy-Fy: Any advice for bloggers and reviewers?
FRB: Network as much as you can, read books you actually want to read and not the shiny new jewels just to be first. Despite that, get outside of your comfort zone; I am firmly an Epic Fantasy reader but I have read a lot of Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and even Young Adult since starting blogging.
SCy-Fy: What are your most useful resources?
FRB: I rely on Goodreads a ton. Other bloggers quite a bit too – never be afraid to contact a fellow blogger, the community is incredibly helpful.
SCy-Fy: Traps in SFF blogging?
FRB: When I first got noticed and was being offered review books for the first time I noticed they were almost exclusively from male authors. For me, hoping to promote a more diverse reading experience, fighting that lure of free books proved important. Not to say I didn’t read plenty of them, but forcing yourself to balance is something you have to be aware of.
SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?
FRB: Back to the great community. It seems anytime I find myself in a writing slump one of my old reviews suddenly shows up again, getting retweeted or shared. Compliments often follow and suddenly slumps don’t seem so bad.
SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most controversy or impact?
FRB: Not sure I have been too controversial. I have had a couple of authors take issue with my negative reviews but have been lucky that the disagreements remained rather civil; though I am sure some hard feelings remained.
Impact is harder to tell. A few early reviews of big name releases got insane amounts of hits but those usually have a good marketing push behind them; I doubt I was the deciding factor for too many people.
SCy-Fy: Let’s finish with the bottom line. The best books of 2014 –
FRB: I put all my five star reads in a post (http://www.fantasyreviewbarn.com/2015/01/01/2014-nathans-year-end-recap/)
SCy-Fy: – and which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to reading?
FRB: Oh geez. The sequel to The Barrow by Mark Smylie would be one, Alex Marshall’s A Crown for Cold Silver has me interested, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin was supposed to be out last year so I have been salivating for far too long, Amanda Downum has a new one coming called Dreams of Shreds and Tatters… I could just send you my spreadsheet if you want…
SCy-Fy: Or maybe one of those bribes we mentioned at the start. Any last words?
FRB: I just have to point out that I am but one person who contributes to Fantasy Review Barn, and it should go without saying that these opinions are completely my own and I don’t speak for anyone else.
SCy-Fy: Thank you, Nathan.