The 100th post on this blog is another in my series of interviews with the people behind the science fiction and fantasy blogs, podcasts and magazines. This time I am talking with Adam Whitehead of The Wertzone, a blog reviewing science fiction and fantasy in print and on screen that was founded in 2006.
SCy-Fy: An easy one (perhaps) to start with, Adam – tell me about a typical blogging day.
AW: Looking around the Internet and seeing if there’s interesting topics or breaking news that my readers might be interested in. Otherwise it’s a question of trying to find the time to catch up on reviews or reading or watching material for review later on. I have a fairly time-consuming day job at the moment and my days off mostly involve sleep, so fitting in blogging can be a bit of a challenge.
SCy-Fy: What are your future initiatives for the blog?
AW: This depends a lot on future time commitments. I’d like to have more regular features and certainly more frequent reviews, but this depends on what happens with the day job. I do hope to have a bit of redesign in the next year or two.
SCy-Fy: Looking forward 3-5 years, what do you think will be the major challenges for SFF blogging?
AW: Surviving in the face of the likes of Goodreads, Reddit and Amazon micro-reviews. There’s been a definite swing towards shorter reviews and people wanting all their content in one place rather than trawling the web for it, and bloggers have to do a bit more to stand out. I’m lucky in the sense that I started very early on, so my blog is quite established. Newer bloggers certainly have it a lot tougher.
SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers? For reviewers? Writers?
AW: Write what interests and excites you. Don’t chase the market, because the market will have changed again by the time you’re finished. Don’t get into online firefights with people who disagree with you over trivial matters, as it can backfire quite badly. But obviously stand up and write what you believe in.
SCy-Fy: Just between us – your secret list of useful resources?
AW: Fantastic Fiction UK is a great resource when looking for cover art. Wikipedia and Google of course. Westeros.org’s regularly-updated lists of upcoming releases and cover art is very handy. The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction is an essential bookmark. I think all epic fantasy writers, readers and fans should also read Diana Wynne Jones’s Tough Guide to Fantasyland, as there is no finer commentary on the tropes of the genre.
SCy-Fy: Traps in SFF blogging?
AW: Writing an uninspired review of a middling book and falling back on stock cliches like, “If you’ve liked the author’s other books you’ll like this one.” Sometimes getting caught up in the excitement over a new book and ending up contributing to the ‘hype’ for a new release. Writing a review too soon without having had time to fully digest the book.
SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?
AW: Good feedback from writers, editors and readers. Going through a rough patch where nothing coming in seems to be very good and then getting a really great book out of nowhere.
SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most impact or controversy?
AW: Almost anything I post about George R.R. Martin. My long-researched All Times SFF Sales List article (which is due for an update). My series of articles on how The Wheel of Time should be adapted for the screen have been both popular and controversial. My article on Brandon Sanderson’s books which laid clear the ties between his novels has been very popular. Complex discussions of Mass Effect 3‘s ending and how Prometheus ties in with Alien also stand out, the latter being the most-viewed and most-commented on article in the history of the blog.
SCy-Fy: Let’s finish with the bottom line. The best books of 2014 –
AW: Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear and the new trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. I didn’t read a lot of contemporary new books last year.
SCy-Fy: – and which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to reading?
AW: Fall of Light by Steven Erikson, The Unholy Consult by Scott Bakker and of course The Winds of Winter by that guy, whatshisname. Also, Paul Kearney’s new novel The Wolf in the Attic. I’m also very intrigued by K.J. Parker writing a big new fantasy series.
SCy-Fy: Any last words?
AW: Thank you for letting me take part in this, and good luck for the future.
SCy-Fy: Thank you, Adam.
5 thoughts on “Interview with Adam Whitehead (The Wertzone)”
Good point about taking time to fully digest a book. I usually jot down some thoughts as I go, but like to let a book sit for 2 or 3 days before attempting a review. That emotional distance is really key to ensuring some objectivity in the review,
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Thanks, Bob; I really appreciate your taking the time to respond to the interviewees’ thoughts.
Bravo on your centenary! x
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