Interview with Andrea Johnson (The Little Red Reviewer)

Today I’m talking to blogger Andrea Johnson of The Little Red Reviewer.

SCy-Fy: Andrea, I usually ask about a typical blogging day, but your blogging life has recently undergone a huge change.

AJ: In January of this year, I went back to work full time, after having worked on an on-call and mostly part time basis for six years. What a shock that was! I went from having tons of reading and writing time to having very little. That said, it’s much easier to describe a “typical blogging week” as opposed to a “typical blogging day”.

SCy-Fy: OK, take me through it.

AJ: During the work week, I try to read at least an hour a day. If I take hand written notes while reading, the review is that much easier to write.

I use the weekends to get as much review writing, interview formatting, and slush reading done as I can – I’m an interviewer with SFSignal and Apex Magazine, and a submissions editor/slush reader for Apex Magazine and Loconeal Publishing. And I am always, always behind. I’m on e-mail and Twitter all the time, because I’m addicted.

SCy-Fy: What are your future plans?

AJ: My husband and I have similar tastes in speculative fiction and historical fiction, and we’ve been writing a series of joint reviews of the Japanese manga “A Bride’s Story”, and we’re planning a joint-review of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora. I’d like our collaborative reviews to become a regular thing.

I’d also like to attend and participate in panels at more SF/F conventions, I’ve done it twice now and it was a ton of fun.

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

AJ: I think the biggest challenge will be us bloggers deciding who we are and why we’re here doing what we do. Are we hobbyists? Are we loudly squeeing fans? Are we critics? Are we publishers? Do we blog to keep a reading journal, be free advertising for publishers and authors we like, get into publishing, be seen as a fanzine, or something in between?

The challenge will be getting through that identity crisis, and where each person lands at the end depends on what they wanted to get out of blogging in the first place.

SCy-Fy: Any advice for bloggers and reviewers?

AJ: Develop your own voice. Be authentic. Read what you want. Be social. Tell authors you liked their stuff. Don’t feel pressured to read something or like someone because everyone is reading it or likes it – but by all means read it if it looks interesting! You’ll get to a point where you are drowning in ARCs, but until then let the library be your best friend.

SCy-Fy: Just between us – your secret list of useful resources?

AJ: SFSignal (especially their SF/F/H link posts) and Twitter. Between those two sites I’m set.

SCy-Fy: Traps in SFF blogging?

AJ: Equating success with number of followers. The pressure to post as much as someone else does. Don’t fall for any of that crap, just blog because it’s fun.

SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?

AJ: Comfort reads: Kurt Vonnegut, Full Metal Alchemist, Kage Baker, Steven Brust, Scott Lynch. Those will always get me out of a funk. Craft Beer, good coffee, and well timed internet vacations help too.

SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most controversy?

AJ: Controversy? None.

SCy-Fy: There must be something you can give me here…

AJ: Well, my most “controversial” – for certain values of “controversial” – moment was probably my parting shot in my review of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, and maybe 25 people even saw that post.

SCy-Fy: Which posts have had the most impact?

AJ: Most impactful posts? I’m still proud of the post I wrote just after Iain M. Banks’ death. Not sure if it was impactful for anyone but me, but, oh well.

Over the last few years I’ve had fun organizing some read-alongs and blog tours, and I like to believe those were impactful for the people who got excited about reading something new along with a group of bloggy friends.

SCy-Fy: I’m sure they were. What have been the best books you have read recently?

AJ: Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz, Babel-17 by Samuel Delany, The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, The Martian by Andy Weir and California Bones by Greg van Eekhout.

SCy-Fy: Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?

AJ: Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente, Flux by Ferrett Steinmetz, Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (which I just finished reading the other day, but can’t talk about for a few more months), The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch and City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett.

The new Marie Brennan, Voyage of the Basilisk, is already out, but I haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy yet, so I’m going to include that in my “upcoming releases” I’m looking forward to.

SCy-Fy: Anything else to add?

AJ: Thanks for having me, and for doing this interview series!

SCy-Fy: Thank you, Andrea.

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