Welcome to the 90th in this series of interviews. My guest today is Mihir from Fantasy Book Critic. Mihir helps out with reviews and interviews, as well as managing Fantasy Book Critic’s Facebook page and Twitter account. Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Mihir is a physician and also a diehard fan of the Indian Cricket team and Chelsea Football Club.
SCy-Fy: Thanks for making time for this, Mihir.
FBC: Thank you for having me on here and sorry for all the delay. With a newborn baby, life has just been too hectic.
SCy-Fy: Congratulations! Now, we agreed not to talk about the last India-Australia cricket series – or the last cricket World Cup – but I guess we can chat about reading and reviewing books.
FBC: Oh yes, absolutely, especially after the way the Aussies mauled the Indians throughout the tour and even in the World Cup. I really don’t have a leg to stand on. By the way – many congratulations on the 5th World Cup win.
At Fantasy Book Critic, we are a team, so I can only speak for myself. Usually, my evenings are either spent reading or writing reviews. Recently, however, I haven’t been able to find much time for reviewing and I’m trying to rectify that. With the baby, though, I don’t think that I will have that much time.
SCy-Fy: What has kept you going so far?
FBC: The fact that besides my wife, there are 2 other people reading Fantasy Book Critic!
Honestly, it’s been a privilege for me to do so. I’m originally from India and am a transplant to these shores. Back when I was a teenager, we didn’t get many SFF books in India and without much of the Internet, it was hard to know about the upcoming and noteworthy titles. When I got to be a part of Fantasy Book Critic, my inner bibliophile was ecstatic. Since then, I have always looked back for motivation to those teenage times, when I wanted to read but didn’t have much access to SFF books.
SCy-Fy: What are the future initiatives on the site?
FBC: Hopefully, we can bring our productivity back!
We have some plans in motion, but we’ll see how those pan out before announcing them. We do have a couple of reviewers joining our team and hopefully they’ll help us get back into the swing of things.
SCy-Fy: What do you think will be the major future challenges for SFF blogging?
FBC: Finding the drive to continue year after year!
On a serious note, staying relevant and not turning into a cynical douchebag (like a few unnamed bloggers). It also depends on what you want to do with your writing career. It can help you make contacts, and that of course will be helpful if you wish to look for a career on the publishing side of things. If your objective is just to have fun and continue blogging for as long as you can, then there’s that too.
SCy-Fy: Do you have any advice for bloggers? For reviewers? Writers?
FBC: For bloggers and reviewers, the best thing I can say is keep doing what you like. For example, if you love urban fantasy, knock yourself out. If you can’t get enough of Grimdark, then with the current trend of Grimdark stories, you are all set. Don’t fall into quotas and undue pressure to review a certain type of book. You should do it because you want to, not because you want to fit in with a certain clique.
Also, if you want to follow some terrific bloggers, then these are the folks I want you all to read:
Maja at Nocturnal Library
Stefan at Civilian Reader
Mogsy, Tiara & Wendy at Bibliosanctum
Abhinav Jain at Shadowhawk’s Shade
Mihai at Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews
Kristen at Fantasy Book Café
Kristin C. at My Bookish Ways
Rob Bedford at SFFWorld
Bryce at Only The Best SF & F
Tyson Mauermann at Speculative Book Review
Can’t say much for writers, as I’m sure they get inundated with a lot of dos and don’ts. However, one thing for them is to be careful online; nowadays there are always trolls looking to find a new target, and you don’t want to be made a laughing stock.
SCy-Fy: Any particular issues in relation to SFF blogging?
FBC: The online Twitter wars – LOL, those can be brutal!
On a serious note, I’ve seen far too many bloggers worry about getting hits or becoming the most important voice on the blogosphere. I hope folks can chill out about those and not worry too much about how many hits they get.
Another thing that perhaps most bloggers have loosened up about is reviewing Indie/self-published authors and books. Thankfully, they aren’t looked upon with as much derision as before, but there’s always that tiny bit of condescension. I hope that attitude can be altered, as there are so many fantastic indie authors and self-published books out there that deserve all the accolades.
SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most impact or controversy?
FBC: Sadly, almost none of my FBC reviews have created much drama; the only one, which still gets comments to this day, is my review of Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi.
SCy-Fy: What have been the best books you have read recently?
FBC: This is a tricky, tricky question; I’m going to have a tough time narrowing down my list.
One of my favorite authors just finished his debut trilogy, so I would highly recommend The Ties That Bind trilogy by Rob J. Hayes. The best comparison I can think of is Joe Abercrombie with more magic and deadlier characters.
There’s also Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron, which is a mix of urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic SF and a rich comedic vein, plus there are dragons in the forefront of the story.
David Dalglish also recently completed his Shadowdance series, which is homage to Batman and Assassin’s Creed in a medieval atmosphere, plus a whole lotta magic.
Lastly, there’s Gospel Of Loki, which I can’t recommend enough for Joanna Harris’ contemporary take on Norse mythology, with Loki being the narrator. Top-notch stuff this!
SCy-Fy: Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?
FBC: Again, this will be difficult, but a few of the books that have me excited are:
Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan: this promises to be an epic ending to a trilogy that heralds the successor to David Gemmell.
Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews: there aren’t enough superlatives for what I want to say about Ilona Andrews and the Kate Daniels books. Simply put, these folks are writing some of the best epic fantasy out there and camouflaging it within a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy outlook.
The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence: this is a highly-awaited sequel and with Mark Lawrence at the helm, a superb read is always a foregone conclusion.
One Good Dragon Deserves Another by Rachel Aaron: Rachel Aaron doesn’t get enough credit for her awesome writing and this series that is such a quirky mix of genres is simply too much fun.
The Fold by Peter Clines: The Fold is a side-quel to a previous book of Peter’s and to my mind, he’s the new dude that doing a fab job of telling a great story and with terrific settings.
Chapelwood by Cherie M. Priest: another sequel that looks at a dark event in the USA’s past. Gothic horror is Cherie Priest’s second skin and I can’t wait to see what she unleashes.
Ascendant’s Right by David Hair: this book is the concluding volume to a series that is possibly the most under-rated fantasy series currently being written. With a literal clash of civilisations and magic and a massive character cast that’s handled adroitly. David Hair is fast becoming my go-to author for a rich, absorbing read.
These are a few of the books that I can’t wait to get my hands on, and thanks to the publicists and authors, I’ve gotten a few ARCs.
SCy-Fy: Thank you, Mihir. Now I will let you go and get some sleep while you can.
FBC: Thank you, mate, and the warnings are all true – no sleep is a forgone conclusion for us first time parents!
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