This morning I am breakfasting with Lisa of Over The Effing Rainbow, a Glasgow-based blogger and reviewer of SF/F.
SCy-Fy: Is this the time of day you usually do blog-related work, Lisa?
OTER: It is. I work evening/afternoon shifts five days a week, which leaves my mornings wide open, so most of my blogging is done over breakfast when I’m relatively fresh of mind. Or at least that’s the idea. Depending on how the night before went, this plan can sometimes backfire… .
Writing reviews can usually take a couple of days at least, and I try to start them as quickly as possible after reading a book in order to preserve my initial thoughts. Most of my blog posts are prepared in advance and scheduled for the week/a couple of weeks ahead, which can give me some time off between each round. This is good on account of how it lets me go out to buy stuff like food… .
SCy-Fy: What are your future plans?
OTER: You know, being asked that question kind of makes me feel like I should have an answer that includes world domination of some sort… . In seriousness, though, if I’m driven toward any goal it’s to explore more diverse science fiction and fantasy, whatever the subgenre, and to highlight as much of it as I can – and always in as positive a light as possible.
SCy-Fy: What do you think will be the major future challenges for SFF blogging?
OTER: I think one of the biggest, at least for those bloggers who give priority to it, will be finding elbow room, so to speak. The number of independent bloggers out there (ie. those not aligned with larger sites like SF Signal/Tor.com, etc.) is pretty high, and it’s not limited to written reviews and blogs. I find more mentions in my social media feeds of vlogs and podcasts and Tumblr pages every day… . I think for those who feel they’ve got a particular message to put out there or a goal they want to achieve, it might be difficult to be heard without aiming to step up to a larger platform.
SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers and reviewers?
OTER: For bloggers and reviewers, I’d say always be honest, and always be positive. You don’t have to be a professional critic to be good, but if you put thought into what you want to say and if you can say it in a way that’s straightforward without being rude, you’re likely to go a much longer and more rewarding way. Always keep it fun, too – that’s the other main thing. If you’re clearly enjoying what you do, then people who read your blog will likely enjoy it as well. It sounds pretty basic, but it’s true!
SCy-Fy: What is your most useful resource?
OTER: Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. I love Twitter. I would still be a clueless, mumbling little weirdo sitting in a corner alone without it. Of course, sometimes I still feel that way, but at least now I’m not the only one in the world!
More specific to the actual reviewing/blogging, though, are things like NetGalley, and publisher/author newsletters. Yes, newsletters can clutter up your inbox (at least they can if you’re as habitually disorganised as I am) but they do provide interesting information and the occasional exclusive treat. For bloggers, that can be very helpful for keeping your content fresh.
SCy-Fy: Traps in SFF blogging?
OTER: Hmm. This one’s harder, because I think it can be different for everybody… . For me, though, the thing I still struggle with is managing what I’m able to read versus how much I want to read. It’s the old problem – looking at you, NetGalley – of putting more on your plate than you can eat, because everything just looks so good!
SCy-Fy: Like tea and cake!
OTER: Well, if I’ve got a limit on how much of those I can consume, I haven’t found it yet… .
SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?
OTER: This one’s easy: books. I’ve been reading since I learned how to, and I’ve got the short sight to prove it, but it’s worth every new story that knocks my socks off – and there are too many to count. I can’t imagine ever NOT being a reader; books keep me sane, and they’ve helped me form some of the strongest friendships I’ve ever had. I like to think they’re not done there yet… .
SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most impact or controversy?
OTER: I don’t know that anything I’ve posted has been controversial. I am anti-controversy. I have opinions, of course, but having arguments is something I prefer to avoid. Thankfully I’ve never had anything I’ve posted receive negative feedback, though of course there’s still plenty of time for that and you never know… .
As for impact, that’s also hard to tell since I can’t interpret site viewings/data to save myself. I do get more comment feedback with things like group readalongs, naturally, and I have a couple of those in the works as we speak. Most recently, I was lucky enough to be offered an exclusive cover reveal for Emma Newman’s forthcoming SF novel, Planetfall that seemed to excite an awful lot of people – and rightfully so because it’s amazing! So I was very pleased with that one.
SCy-Fy: What have been the best books you have read recently?
OTER: If we’re talking about things I’ve read in 2015, I’ve actually probably done more reading of graphic novels/comics and short fiction than novels, so far – Ms. Marvel, Rat Queens, and The Wicked + The Divine are leading the comic book charge for me so far. Apex Magazine and Uncanny Magazine are great for short fiction and also for SF/F poetry, which is something I never thought I’d find myself enjoying before I picked up these magazines.
As for novels, there have still been a few excellent ones. Ferrett Steinmetz’s debut novel Flex is pretty mind-blowingly original, so that’s a definite highlight. Dark Star by Oliver Langmead is an amazing mix of science fantasy, epic poetry and noir mystery. And since I’m a sucker for straight-up swords and sorcery and swashbuckling, Jen Williams’ The Iron Ghost and Sebastien de Castell’s Knight’s Shadow are also my frontrunners so far this year. Both of those books are sequels, though, so if you look them up, bear that in mind!
SCy-Fy: Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?
OTER: [Takes a deep breath] Gosh, which ones am I not looking forward to?! Top of the list at the moment, though, let’s see… Peter Newman’s debut novel The Vagrant (UK only, so far as I know), Emma Newman’s Planetfall (which I mentioned before), Aliette de Bodard’s House of Shattered Wings, Kameron Hurley’s Empire Ascendant, Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance, and I should probably stop there before I get out the full list… .
SCy-Fy: Thank you, Lisa.
OTER: I couldn’t have done this without tea. And thank you!