Welcome to another in this ongoing series of interviews with the people behind the science fiction and fantasy sites. I am really appreciating the opportunity to get their views and I hope you are enjoying reading them.
This evening I’ll be howling along under the full moon with the Dark Wolf himself, Mihai Adascalitei of Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews, a Romanian English-language site for reviews, interviews and news about fantasy, horror and fantasy art.
SCy-Fy: Welcome to the pack, Mihai. You’ve been blogging since 2008. How has your approach changed in that time?
MA: I used to worry a lot about review copies and hit counts, but I left that behind as much as possible, although it does still happen to me from time to time.
At first I received lots of review copies and although that flow has decreased over time I still feel sometimes that I need to read and review all of them. It triggered, and occasionally still does trigger, a fear of disappointing people and letting someone down. But it is not physically possible. As much as I would like to read and review all of them there are other things to be considered and other books waiting to be read besides all the new ones. With the birth of my son my time for reading shrank, but this wonderful event also brought the realization that I am not in a contest. It does me no good to race through the books and that was not the reason for starting a blog in the first place. So I’ve settled into my own rhythm, giving the books I read the proper attention and taking them just one at the time.
SCy-Fy: And the hit count?
MA: I used to have a hit counter on the blog, but I reached the point one day when the hit counter became an obsession. The first thing I did was to check the hit counter to see how many hits I had.
SCy-Fy: Sounds familiar…
MA: It was nothing like I wished for and, yet again, that was not the reason for starting the blog. So, I took it out. I still glimpse those stats from time to time – the blogger platform has one on its front page – but I stopped worrying about them a long time ago.
SCy-Fy: What is a typical blogging day for you?
MA: I am not sure I actually have a typical blogging day. Usually I write my posts a day before putting them on the blog, but sometimes I write them in the morning and post them in the afternoon. That is the case when I discover a latest piece of news I am interested in and wish to highlight it on my blog. Otherwise, like I said, I write my posts, I read the websites I like the most and try to come up with a little more free time in order to write my reviews and interview questions. Although, for the past couple of years, work has raised an extensive barrier to that goal. I am certain that I am more disorganized than appears from my answer, with my family and work demands having priority by far, and also the time necessary for actual reading.
SCy-Fy: What are your future initiatives for the blog?
MA: One of my initiatives is in fact an older one. I would like to bring back the series of interviews I used to conduct with genre artists. I enjoyed those quite a lot and I am definitely dreaming of doing them again consistently.
SCy-Fy: I hope so. Your list of past interviews contains an impressive number of artists.
MA: I also have in mind a feature dedicated to short fiction. I read a lot of excellent short stories and a healthy chunk of them come from online media. I review short story collections, anthologies and magazines, but I realized that I would like to talk a bit more about some of my favourite short stories published online. I have a couple of ideas, but for the moment they’re in an incipient form and I need to consider how to tackle and develop them before putting these thoughts into practice.
SCy-Fy: Looking forward, what do you think will be the major challenge for SFF blogging in general?
MA: I am not exactly sure, I guess it depends on what one wishes to achieve through blogging. It was easier to be noticed 3 years ago than it is now, there are a lot more blogs out there today. Which is not a bad thing – on the contrary. However, as was the case in the past, also today and in the future, the main challenge from my point of view is to be yourself, to be original. Just copying what others do doesn’t offer any satisfaction. It is a struggle, but I, personally, feel more fulfilled doing that.
SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers? For reviewers? Writers?
MA: Well, for the bloggers, talk about the things you are passionate about and even though someone doesn’t agree with you, don’t let that be an impediment.
For reviewers, be honest; if you don’t like a book just say so, with your reasons, of course. And it is all right if everybody else loves a book and you don’t, after all reading is an entirely subjective process.
For writers, just write. The world is certainly a better place because of this.
SCy-Fy: Do you have a secret list of useful resources?
MA: Nonesoever. Seriously, I do visit plenty of websites of publishers, writers, editors and bloggers, but none is what can be called a secret. It is more a work of research if you like, for my reading habit as well as the blogging one.
SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?
MA: A couple of good friends encouraged me to keep going in time of need and they gave me strength. And my great passion for books helped me too. I enjoy reviewing books and I like to believe that it has also made me a better and more considerate reader. I also like to talk about the books I love and this is a very good way to do it.
SCy-Fy: Which posts of yours have had the most impact?
MA: This is a tricky one. I am not sure. Perhaps it is the fault of taking the hit counter out. Then again, the hit count might have led me to come upon a subject or type of post with great popularity and tempt me to overdo it, to the point where I wouldn’t have had anything substantial to add and yet continue on the same line nonetheless.
SCy-Fy: Have any of your posts been particularly controversial?
MA: I try to stay away from controversy. That is one of the reasons I started a blog in English, because looking at the small community here in Romania way too often one hot subject follows the path of furious, angry debates. I don’t like that too much. I mean, everyone is entitled to a personal opinion and I am not one to deny that. But when that opinion is voiced too vehemently and the one voicing it disregards others just because they don’t share it, the entire debate becomes bothersome. And since such controversies are more often than not followed closely by heated conversations I believe that I stand better without being caught in the middle of them.
SCy-Fy: The best books of 2014?
MA: Mike, Linda & Louise Carey’s The House of War and Witness, Andrew J. McKiernan’s Last Year, When We Were Young, Helen Marshall’s Gifts For the One Who Comes After, Jeff Salyards’ Veil of the Deserters, Marc Pastor’s Barcelona Shadows.
SCy-Fy: Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to reading?
MA: Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings, Carine M. & Élian Black’Mor’s In Search of Lost Dragons & The Demons: Welcome to the Park of Illusions, K.J. Parker’s The Invincible Sun, Sarah Pinborough’s The Death House, C.L. Werner’s Malus Darkblade: Deathblade, Marian & James Womack’s anthology The Best of Spanish Steampunk.
SCy-Fy: Any last words?
MA: Thank you very much for inviting me to this interview. And best of luck for your blog and writing.
SCy-Fy: Thank you, Mihai. The moon has gone behind a cloud, so it’s time for us to say good night.