Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Chatting with Lorraine

For my 200th post on my blog, my third guest on my Chat couch is Lorraine.  Lorraine loves indie authors, hunky protagonists and bright makeup (not sure which is top of her list)

First I’d like to thank Joo for interviewing me, and I’d like to apologise to the readers of this blog for the obvious lack of control I have over my yapping!

If you could live in the age and setting of a book, which book, and why?

It’d be any historical romance book about the regency/Georgian era. I’ve grown very fond of these recently, and I’d have loved to be one of the ton. Not only for the gowns and the corsets, but because I just like all that etiquette stuff, sophistication, the idea of honour and virtue, and to some extent the “discipline”, and I’d just love to spend the whole day reading or doing embroidery or raising my children and leaving all the worries to my husband and all the housework to my maids. It’s such a different world to the one we live in. I’d probably get bored after a while and want to visit another era, but that’s where I wish I could be right now.

Does it annoy you the book finishes well before 100% because the author mentions their other works at the back of the novel. Do you mind if the author includes a synopsis or even an excerpt?

Yes and no. I think it’s a good idea that you get a taste of the author’s other stories. That said, I’d prefer a blurb to a full chapter of the next novel. I’d read the blurb, but not a whole chapter.
I think it needs to remain reasonable as well. I’ve read a story once that actually finished at around 60%. Maybe it’s my fault I didn’t actually check the amount of pages before I started going, I’d have realised it wasn’t a 300-page novel, but yeah, I kind of thought “uh?” when I got to “The End.” Lol. And the rest was all promo. Had it been followed by a couple of shorts, maybe I would have felt different.

Are you put off if you see a book is part of a series? Or does that entice you, knowing that if you like it there are more books to enjoy?

I like and I don’t like series. I like them because you know the heroes are coming back, and I am quite big on heroes. I must fall in love about 50 times a year. And it’s good to know that there’s more added to a plot that you enjoyed (or more happening inside the plot if the plot covers the whole series). However I don’t like having to wait if the sequels haven’t been written yet. But then I’m not the most patient of people and I’m sure I’ve bugged many an author more than was necessary. If they read this, I apologise profusely.
Then you need to make a difference between stand-alone-but-part-of-a-series book and those that follow each other. If they follow each other I’m more excited to read the next one than if they were stand alone, because it’d be like reading a whole new story again.

Do you read the Look Inside before purchasing? Always? Sometimes, depending on the reviews? Never?

Rarely. I go by recommendations and then I tend to stay loyal to the authors whose stories I’ve enjoyed, so I tend to dive head first and just buy the book. Same with getting samples (I find it easier to read on the kindle than on the computer screen). I’ve done it a couple of times. I’d probably do it for a more expensive book whose author I didn’t know of. But I don’t usually do it.

Do you read for hours at a time, or in short bursts, or a mixture of the two?

That depends on how life is demanding at the time. I only live 2 minutes away from the school, but you can be sure I do my 2 minutes of reading while walking back home after dropping the little one. If I can spend the whole day reading, I will. But with a family, work and various other projects it’s hard to find time to read for a long stretch of time. But hey, you just adapt.

How important are reviews of a book to you? Would they influence your choice to buy it?

I don’t tend to read reviews before getting a book. I try to keep an open mind and if I hear of a book that I might find interesting, I’ll check the blurb but not the reviews. A lot of the reviews either give you a re-written version of the synopsis or they basically tell you the story. I can’t run the risk of coming across spoilers. So I don’t read them. However, I’ll read them afterwards. Just out of curiosity. To see what people thought of the book, how it made them feel, and to see if it was the same for me.
Actually, I’m lying. I do read reviews when I wasn’t totally convinced with the first book I’ve read by this author. Just to see if it’s worth carrying on with the others or not.

Do you think you remain unbiased when reviewing books by people you know or interact with on the internet?

I don’t really know. I don’t think I’d give you an extra star just because we’ve had a laugh together. That said, I can’t deny that the reading experience is different. And yes, it probably affects how I feel about a story. Because there’s a difference between reaching “The End,” putting a book down and that’s pretty much it, or, on the other side, reaching “The End,” and knowing that you’ll end up talking to the author about it or having a laugh about the review you’ve left for the book. However I don’t think that affects how the story makes me feel while I’m reading it. End of the day, it’s all about the words and what they convey. Whether I like you or not, if that’s not working, there’s nothing you can do.

How do you feel about leaving negative reviews?

I don’t leave them. Maybe I’m lucky that in following recommendations I end up finding pretty fine books, but I don’t come across books that are so awful that they deserve a negative review. I might point out in my review something I didn’t like in a book that I liked. But if I don’t like a book, I’ll just stop reading it and put it down to it not being the “right” book for me. I’m not someone who would say “I read two pages and got bored, here, get a 1 star”. We see it all the time. Books loved by ones, hated by others. I just don’t think it’s my place to tell people “I didn’t like it so you won’t either.” Plus I can’t really say I didn’t like a book that I haven’t finished. I might have liked it had I continued. But at that stage, it’s my decision not to carry on with it.
To me, reading is all about escapism, feelings and relaxation, at the moment. If the book is too heavy for me, it’s not the author’s fault. So I don’t really see why I should penalise him/her with a oner. Especially if it is otherwise a beautifully written story.
And in total honesty, I find the dismissive one-star reviews such as “didn’t like the story” or “there was a typo there” rather sad.
Anyway, if I don’t finish a book, I won’t leave a review. I might mention it, if it comes up in the conversation, but I won’t praise it either if you know what I mean.

Are you more lenient with regards mistakes if you know a book is self published, or do you believe the authors should have hired an editor to make sure it's the best it can be?

No. I don’t mind mistakes. Sometimes I’ll point things out to the author. But typos and bad grammar don’t affect my reading experience, really. Published or self-published.
That said, in self-publishing there are good ones and bad ones if you see what I mean. And unfortunately the bad ones stain the reputation of the good ones. Often you hear “Self-pubbed? Oh, not worth it, probably badly written.” But that’s not the case. Yes, some people pen something and just send it out there. And then others get their work edited, proofread, and as close to perfection as it can possibly be. It’s a bit sad that all this hard work is destroyed by some careless authors. I still think that the whole digital revolution is a fab thing though, and that it’s only going to get better. Well, that’s for me as a reader, because I’m not sure how well it fares for authors.
With regards to hiring an editor, I know they can be expensive. If you can’t afford one, try and maybe get a few Betas from a forum you belong to, or some reliable family members whose English is good. I know for a fact that no matter how many times you re-read what you’ve typed, there will still be mistakes and typos slipping through the net. Avoiding these as best as you can can only be a good thing. Doesn’t make any difference to me, like I said, but it might do to other readers. And I think that as a professional, you want the work you produce to be as clean as possible. It also goes for covers, and the image you project of yourself among other things.

If something an author did upset or bothered you, would it stop you reading more of their work, even if you've read their stuff before and enjoyed it?

Yes. Very much so. I can bear a grudge for decades. But then it depends. I don’t really care much for all the famous big-buck authors. So that would happen to a lesser extent. I mean if I heard from a newspaper or internet rumour that Stephen King had been a prick, it’d probably not affect me. But if it’s one of the authors I am “closer” to, then yeah, probably. If you personally hurt me or upset me, I’m done, even if I liked your stories. Behave like an arsehole and I know of other authors who are more worthy of my money and my time. If it’s just a matter of not liking the way you think, I’ll try and keep an open mind.

Which character from a book are you most like, and why?

I’m so unique I’m yet to find a character that is nearly as awesome as I am! *Head suddenly swells up to five times its normal size*
No, really, I have no idea. I know which characters I’d most like to be like, though!

Do you prefer male or female protagonists?

Male. Especially if they’re yummy. No, seriously, I’m in a woman’s head 100% of the time, I like it when I get to be in a man’s head. It’s kind of like taking a holiday!

Is there any subject matter you won't read about?

I don’t think so. I’ve really broadened my reading lately, and I’m willing to try anything. Anything that has a story, that is. It might work, it might not. If it does, then all the better for me. If it doesn’t, then I’ve tried. I have a thing about hype, though. It’s the same with music. If I hear people going on too much about it, I decide I don’t like it. I guess that’s why I’m a Harry Potter/50Shades/Twilight/Stephen King virgin. I just can’t bring myself to open those.

Where do you like to see the acknowledgements, if at all; front or back.

A very brief dedication at the front, and acknowledgements at the back. But it doesn’t really matter to me. Tell you what, I’m a nosey moo. I quite like knowing how people have helped, or who they are in relation to the author.

Do you always buy books in the same genre? Would you experiment with a different type of book if it seemed worth a try?

I’ve tried a lot of things lately. I thought I wasn’t a romance girl because of my taste for blood and guts, and now I can’t seem to get enough of it! I’ve tried a book about World War II, thinking it’d be like going back to school, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve tried something written in a local variant of the English language thinking I’d struggle with it (for those who don’t know me, I’m French), and I managed it. So yeah, I’ve been experimenting. And it’s proving to be a rather awesome experience! Everyone should do it!

Do you prefer long novels or shorter ones?

I’m not fussy. I still find shorts too short, but I’m getting used to that. As long as it has a beginning and an end, an interesting plot and some nicely rounded characters, I’m a happy reader.

Do you finish every book you start reading, no matter how bad it is?

No. If I struggle with the book, or find it hard to pick it up again, it’s a goner. Too many potentially good books raising their hands and saying “Pick me!”

Do you like it when authors put excerpts of reviews in the blurb? What about puffs from famous authors?

It depends. I’d prefer it after the blurb, because sometimes there’s a whole string of them and it’s difficult to find where the blurb is!
I’m not that keen on reviews appearing really. Obviously the author would not put spoilers in the blurb, but I just feel that I want to make my own opinion of it and not really be influenced in any way. Plus it’s obviously biased.
However, I think that if you’ve received an award for this particular book, or if you’ve been likened to a famous author by a known author, or someone who might be self-published but who has a very good track record, yeah, you should showcase it there. But don’t pretend that you’re as good as Agatha Christie just because you write in the crime genre (not targeting anyone, that’s just the first name that came to mind).
I think, more than anything, that I’d rather get my teeth into a book without any prior expectations other than that I got from the blurb/previous reads.