My guest today is Pep, also known in real life as Brittain. He is the co-owner of and main writer for the blog Two Dudes in an Attic, where they read Gary Gygax novels so you don’t have to. Scribblings on Two Dudes emanate from the Pacific Northwest and sit at the nexus of science fiction, fantasy, political science, Japan, music, and soccer. (This makes for a killer Venn diagram).
SCy-Fy: Tell me about a typical blogging day, Pep.
TD: Hmm. This question actually strikes at the heart of all the difficulties surrounding book blogging. It goes without saying that the blog isn’t my main job, but in my case it isn’t even my side job – I’m a semi-pro musician, so Two Dudes is the side gig to my side gig.
SCy-Fy: And being interviewed about it must be fairly low down the gig list…
TD: Not at all! We love attention here at Two Dudes. Anyway, I read when I can and write when I can, mostly after the kids have gone to sleep. I still manage enough to crank out about one post and one finished book per week. My posts are longer and are more analysis than book review, so they usually involve a lot of thinking when I’m doing other things. By the time I sit down to write, I’ve generally prepared a few paragraphs in my head. I’m not sure what else qualifies as “typical” beyond some frantic scribblings after 10pm.
SCy-Fy: What are your future initiatives for the blog?
TD: I’d really love to add another writer and/or publicist. My younger brother is technically the Second Dude in the Attic, but he runs his own bookstore and works 60 hour weeks. I don’t really expect him to think about books on his days off. Another writer on there would double (at least) the post count and free me up to do some other background tasks.
SCy-Fy: That attic might get crowded. What do you think will be the major challenges for SFF blogging in the future?
TD: That’s a good question that I haven’t thought much about. I suspect that the biggest issue will be finding ways to get noticed. There are a boatload of SFF blogs out there, covering almost any imaginable aspect of the community. Many of them are large, bandwidth-sucking institutions and many more are run by people much smarter than I am. For someone making a serious run at starting a new, popular blog, I imagine the competition is fierce. Fortunately for me, I’m just doing this for fun and am always ecstatic when a reader stumbles by.
SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers?
TD: Get out, read other blogs, leave comments, and try to be involved in the community. I have made some good friends through the blog that I would never have met otherwise. Being active actually serves a dual purpose: meeting cool people and driving traffic to one’s blog. If someone is out there leaving interesting comments and making friends, people will come check his or her blog out.
SCy-Fy: Your most useful resources?
TD: The biggest are the Coode Street Podcast and the online SF Encyclopedia. The first is unmatched in the way it unlocks the literary constructions beneath SFF and helps to understand the grand conversation that the genre has with itself through books. The second is where I go when I need to know something about an author, where to find a certain novel, or just figure out where to start with an unfamiliar writer.
SCy-Fy: Particular challenges in SFF blogging?
TD: I haven’t stumbled on any bigger challenge than managing expectations. It was easy to be too ambitious with post counts, visitor numbers, and the possibility of ad revenue. Everything has taken much longer and is much harder than I initially thought.
SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?
TD: I’ve been very lucky to not have slumps or challenges with the blog – plenty in real life of course. I took a long hiatus from the genre once high school got too busy, so the last several years have been a happy catch up time. As for blogging, it’s still fun. When it isn’t, I’ll take a break, but I suspect that the friends I have in the community will keep me involved for many years.
SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most impact or controversy?
TD: I guess that depends on how you define “impact or controversy.” I have thus far failed to change the world. My most viewed post of all time, by a huge margin, is All You Need is Kill. The hits for that fell off a cliff once the movie came out, though. Free WordPress keeps entire articles on the front page, not previews, so people could be reading tons of things but I’ll never know. My stats are not wholly reliable.
SCy-Fy: Lies, damn lies, statistics and blog hit counts…
TD: Indeed. My musings on gender balance attracted some fleeting attention as part of a broader conversation. I got the most praise, much to my surprise, for a look at The Book of Apex, Vol. 4. Speaking most generally, the largest percentage of hits on the blog go to the place where I feel I offer the greatest public service: Japanese SFF. If nothing else, I like to think of Two Dudes as one of the better English resources for Japan-beyond-anime.
SCy-Fy: Let’s finish with the bottom line. The best books of 2014?
TD: Boiling down my list to just a couple, I’d say City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett and The Peripheral by William Gibson. I offer those with the caveat that I haven’t read several other major releases from the year. To be honest though, I doubt anything would surpass my picks even if I had read other big releases.
SCy-Fy: Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to reading?
TD: My number one book to read is The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin. I had my hold come in from the library while in Japan, and couldn’t grab it before they put it back in circulation. I am now something like #30 in line. Ann Leckie’s next book Ancillary Mercy is much anticipated, as are the follow-ons to Mark Smylie’s The Barrow and Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs.
SCy-Fy: Any last words?
TD: Nothing profound, just thankful to have met the people I have and looking forward to the ones I will. The genre community is a great place to spend time and I recommend it to everyone!
SCy-Fy: Arigato, Pep.