Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBAW 2009, Day 2: The Book Blogger Interview Swap

Today, I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with Angie of Angieville. How neither Angie nor I have come across each other's book blogs before our interview assignments baffles me--we have so much in common! Getting to know a little bit about Angie has been a joy, and I am, immediately after posting this interview, adding her blog to my favorite book blogs folder.

1. The picture on your blog makes you look like one of those people who might be thirteen or thirty. So: Just how old are you?

*laughs* I actually had to think for a second as I just turned 31 and it still feels a bit weird to say. My husband is a photographer and takes rather a lot of pictures of me and I look different in each one of them. The one on the blog is not a particularly recent one but I sort of liked how it looks like I’m trying to decide which book to read next.

2. What are your family’s reading habits?

Ooh, that’s a loaded question! We’re big readers in this house. We read aloud, silently, alone, or in pairs, trios, or quartets, and at all hours of the day and night. My husband is big into nonfiction, though he dabbles a fair bit in literary fiction. He listens to most of his books on his iPod and has a Kindle he’s quite fond of. He also humors me by allowing me to read my most favorite of favorite books to him aloud, usually in bed at night or on road trips. We’ve read everything from Harry Potter and Stephanie Plum to Ender’s Game and the Alanna books. We just finished The Queen of Attolia and I always look forward to our next read. My boy Will and I are just finishing up the Chronicles of Narnia together. They’ve been our bedtime reads and he always begs for, “Just one more chapter, Mom!” So far his favorite seems to be a tie between The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Magician’s Nephew. My baby girl Piper is a big fan of Dear Zoo and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. She loves turning the pages and is always very careful not to rip them. Apparently she absorbed some of my reverence for books while in the womb! As for me I read whenever I get a chance and I can’t seem to fall asleep at night, no matter how late it is, unless I’ve read a good chunk of something first.

3. How did you become a reader?

I come by it honestly. Both my parents are voracious readers. They have quite different tastes in books but the one series they have in common is the Nancy Drew books. So those are some of my first reading memories. The Hidden Staircase scared the crap out of me as a kid, though, so I had to cool it for a bit till I was ready. I remember reading and loving The Witch of Blackbird Pond and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler with my mother. When I was ten my aunt sent me a set of the Chronicles of Narnia and the rest, as they say, is history.

4. You’re an editor for an educational publisher. What’s your job description (as you’ve experienced it--which we all know can be very different from how the employer writes it up)?

I spend most of my time researching and writing reports about countries and cultures from around the world. I work in the K-12 department so these reports are geared toward students of all ages. The fun part is I get to correspond with historical experts from all over making sure our information is accurate and current. And from time to time I get sent on trips in which I gather images and video and conduct interviews on life in that particular country. The other fun part is it’s a small office filled with cool people who love to read. It’s a good job and I’m grateful to have it.

5. When you graduated with your MA in literature, what was (and maybe still is) your dream career?

When I started my MA I think my dream career was being a writer. While I worked on my MA I had the opportunity to teach freshman composition and fell in love with teaching writing on the university level. So much so that I continued teaching after I graduated. I’ve missed teaching since I became and editor, though I employ many of the same skills. Now I believe my dream job would be a Young Adult lit editor or a YA librarian. Nothing gives me a high like putting great books into the hands of people who will love them. That’s certainly a big part of why I love blogging.

6. You haven’t posted your review of the ARC of Catching Fire you got at BEA. Have you read it yet?*

I was embarrassingly late in finishing and reviewing my ARC of Catching Fire, it’s true. I had it and Fire by Kristin Cashore in my hands and opted to read Fire first. Interestingly, I actually read Graceling and The Hunger Games back to back last year. Anyway, Fire blew me away so completely that I got thrown off track and didn’t get around to Catching Fire for awhile. Once I did, I was immediately re-immersed in Katniss’ world and the intensity and Utter Peril got to me so much so that I actually set it down and had to take a break. That doesn’t happen to me very often and I was a bit shocked by my response. But when I finally got the nerve to pick it up again I read it through to the end in one sitting. And it was absolutely and comprehensively awesome. Team Gale FTW!

7. When you started your book blog over three years ago, did you know there was such a huge community of book bloggers? How did you find it? (How many book blogs are in your RSS reader?)

I had no idea when I started. I thought it would be fun to keep an online log of my reading each month and perhaps make a few Best Of lists. I was pretty taken with designing the layout and playing around with images and links, etc. I updated it monthly and didn’t really spend a lot of time on it. It didn’t take me too long, though, to have my eyes opened for me. And once I ventured out into the book blogging world I was completely addicted. Bookshelves of Doom was one of the first blogs I stumbled across and I immediately loved the honest, hilarious way Leila went about reviewing books and promoting literacy, combined with the occasional bit of pop culture. Bookshelves of Doom was my gateway book blog. J

I’ve currently got 123 book blogs in my reader.

8. What are your favorite author encounters? What authors would you like to meet?

One of my most memorable author encounters was getting to meet Tamora Pierce and hear her read aloud. I’ve been a fan of hers ever since I was twelve years old and discovered a book called Alanna: the First Adventure on the shelves of my local library in San Antonio, TX. She’s a superb presenter and I sat there rapt, clutching my book in delight.

Though it doesn’t qualify as an “encounter,” one of my most prized possessions is a letter I received from Lloyd Alexander in answer to one I sent him thanking him for his wonderful books. It was the first letter I wrote to an author and his response (typed on an actual typewriter and signed in blue ink) hangs on my wall over my desk. It never fails to make me smile.

The list of authors I would love to meet is rapidly getting longer. I would love to sit down at a table with Ellen Emerson White and John Green because I think they’re two of the smartest writers out there and because they don’t underestimate their readers. I would love to meet Juliet Marillier and Sharon Shinn because they write beautiful fantasy novels that I read over and over again. And I would love to talk books while watching Veronica Mars with Diana Peterfreund because…it would be an awesome good time. With the Logan. And the books.

9. Are you a cat or dog person?

Dogs all the way.

10. On your blog, you tell a frustrating story about looking for a bookstore in Orlando. How have you tried to ensure that experience doesn’t repeat itself?

It was a scarring experience, Jena. I still have nightmares. First of all, I make it a rule never to make the same mistake and travel with only the first book in a series. I have to have the first three, at least, depending on the length of the trip. Once I set out on a trip to Italy to visit my parents with the first two Harry Potter books. We were in route to London when I finished the second one and I remember my first priority upon landing was rushing into the nearest bookshop to get my hands on Prisoner of Azkaban. Fortunately they had one. Now I just make sure to carry with me twice as many books as I think I could possibly need and that generally sees me back home. My back suffers but my soul is happy.

11. You want to talk up Ender’s Game to a handful of teen guys you get the feeling would love the book, but you only have 45 seconds or so before they disappear--get on a bus or spaceship or whatever. What do you tell them?

Crotch punch of death!

Thank you, Angie!

And thank you Amy, for pairing us up!

* These questions were asked in August, before the release of Catching Fire and the posting of Angie's review.


Charlotte said...

Thank you both for the great interview!

(Did you know that Diana Peterfreund is going to be at next month's kidlitosphere conference in DC?)

bermudaonion said...

I wonder if I can get her husband to take a picture of me. I got Catching Fire at BEA too and I haven't even read The Hunger Games yet.

Elisa said...

Great interview! Angie is my sister! And my book guru of course! I know a lot of her answers already but love reading them in her words! Thanks.

Angiegirl said...

Thanks for having me, Jena! And thanks for stopping in you guys.

Charlotte, I did know she was going to be there and I'm hating the fact that I no longer live in D.C. Or anywhere near...

bermudaonion, lol. He'd be happy to! :) Hope you enjoy THE HUNGER GAMES when you get around to it. Very intense, IMO.

Liza, *waves* you know all the answers and you still come. That's what sisters do.

Ana said...

Angie, I loved learning all of this about you! It's interesting how I feel like I "know" you via your blog or the messages we exchange but I did not have any clue about your age or your day job for example.

Great interview! : D

Christine said...

Hi Jenna & Angie,
What a great interview. I always love to hear how people became the avid readers they are today.

Angiegirl said...

Ana, lol. Out of curiosity, how old did you think I was? :)

Christine, hey there. The interview swap really is a great idea, isn't it?

Li said...

Fantastic interview, Jena and Angie!

I'm totally jealous you've actually met Tamora Pierce. And LOL @ the Ender's Game description - very good!

Angiegirl said...

Li, she's a fabulous author to see. Great presentation, very kind. All around fun.

And the ENDER'S GAME one-liner seemed apt for a bunch of teenage boys. ;)

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I loved it! And I didn't know that your husband was a photographer Angie. We are going to have to talk about that.

Kayleigh said...

Thanks for the fabulous interview! If you liked From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, be sure to check out Nancy Pearl's interview with Lizzie Skurnick on Blog Talk Radio. Lizzie devotes a whole chapter to the book in SHELF DISCOVERY.