One of the fun things of Twitter is seeing conversations happening around you. Sometimes the conversation includes people you follow and people you don’t and you discover a new person to follow. This is how I started to follow Paul, the blogger behind The Eloquent Page. There was an @Pablocheescake who kept showing up in my timeline and if you’ve ever seen Paul’s avatar you know he’s got vivid red hair, so he was hard to miss. Once I checked out his blog, it turned out he and I had very similar tastes and he’s a lot of fun to follow on Twitter. Still, our acquintance has been relatively short, so I thought that getting him to do a Blogger Query would be a good way to get to know more about him. So let’s meet Paul!
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Paul?
I’m originally from the west coast of Scotland but I now live near Nottingham with my wife, two cats and a tarantula. I’m a bit of a daydreamer and have been described in the past, by more than one person, as ‘a chaos magnet’. In fairness that is probably quite an accurate description.
What got you into blogging?
My other half is one of those terribly creative types – she writes, is an artist, a wonderful baker, a web mistress, a keen gardener and a fabulous cook. I am, unfortunately, none of these things but I’m quite a good reader. A couple of years ago she suggested that it was about time I got a hobby of my own. In her opinion, I was just cluttering up the place and she doesn’t like the house to be untidy. As I was reading so much anyway, she proposed it might be an idea to tell people what I thought about what I’d read. I’d already been harassing the internet on my own personal blog for quite a while so a book review blog seemed like the next logical step.
Why The Eloquent Page?
There’s a classic novel called Intervention by Julian May. In it there’s a character called Rogi who owns a bookshop called The Eloquent Page. All the other characters in the novel are powerful, wealthy and good looking while Rogi is the polar opposite. He does, however, seem to the only one that is happy with his lot, surrounded by books in his dusty little bookshop. The idea of that sort of existence has always appealed to me. I haven’t managed it yet so in the mean time I decided to borrow the name of his shop for my blog, it seemed apt.
What is your unique selling point? Interviews, humour, news coverage?
I’m not sure I really have one. I guess compared to others I’m quite traditional, I’m pretty much only about reviews and not much else. I’ve thought about doing interviews and news coverage in the past but there are already plenty of sites that do that far better than I ever could. In real life I’m also actually quite shy and it takes all the courage I can muster just to request review copies of novels.
What are your goals for your blog?
If one person reads one of my reviews and it prompts them to seek out a book, then I think I’ve pretty much accomplished what I set out to do. Reading is one of the joys in my life and I want to share that feeling with as many people as I can. I realised a long time ago that I’m never going to be a writer, I don’t have any talent/skill in that area, but if I can help a reader make an informed decision about their next reading choice then at least I have helped in some small way.
One of the eternal book reviewer debates is to rate or not to rate? Where do you stand on the issue?
I don’t rate on The Eloquent Page. It’s funny, I cross post my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and when I do that I find myself spending ages trying to decide how many stars a books should get. [Ed. Note: This! So much this!!] There is so much debate flying around about ratings that if I think about it too much I fear my brain would melt
Negative reviews, yay or nay? And why?
Not really. If I’ve decided to read something then there is a good chance that I’m going to enjoy it. Occasionally I’ll mention if I didn’t really enjoy a book but that’s about as far as I go. If I don’t finish a book I don’t tend to post the review. I tried doing this once and I don’t think it turned out very well. Put it this way, in the last twelve months there are only two books that I’ve not finished and those never got reviewed. Everything else has been.
Looking at your review policy and your archives, we seem to have a rather similar taste in genres. Which one is your absolute favourite though?
Oh, tough one. If I really had to choose, then I’ll go with my first love, horror. My maternal grandmother got me hooked on the likes of Stephen King and James Herbert at an early age. The majority of books that I re-read on a regular basis are horror titles. I’m particularly obsessed with apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction.
How important are blogs to your reading choices?
Essential. I read quite a few on a daily basis, twenty-one at last count. The only rule I have is that I’ll avoid reviews of books I know I’ll be reviewing myself (at least until my review is posted anyway). I don’t want to cloud my judgment with anyone else’s opinion before I make my own. [Ed. Note: Oh good, I’m not the only one who does this then. You should see my read it later links!]
How do you think blogs and reviewers fit in the book business?
One of the best things about the 21st century is the immediacy that technology offers us. I think that rise of book blogs and review sites, allows any reader the ability to explore as many opinions as they want at the touch of a button. The book blogs I read and the bloggers I’ve met all do what they do for the same reason – they love to read and want to share their experiences and thoughts with others.
What is your current read and what book are you most eagerly awaiting?
Currently I’m up to my elbows in the midst of the second Department 19 novel, The Rising by Will Hill. [Ed. Note: Arg, I still have to read his first one! It’s on the pile somewhere.] I’m really looking forward to The Twelve by Justin Cronin, like I mentioned before I’m obsessed about the end of the world (actually if anyone from Orion Books reads this I am willing to sell you my soul for a review copy). I also have high hopes for The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch.
Is there something else you’re obsessed with other than books?
Film. I love cinema and if I’m not reading I tend to be watching. I love movies and there are quite a few films that I find myself watching regularly.
I’m also really geeky about technology. Gadgets, hardware, software. It’s all fair game as far as I’m concerned. When they finally figure out how to upload people to the Internet I’ll be at the front of the queue. Hey, that might make quite a good story. Does anyone know any writers?
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
I let the books decide where they want to live, much to my wife’s dismay. I’ve tried to be organised in the past but I’ve always failed on an epic scale.
Thank you for answering my questions, Paul! And for the record, it’s strange how many ‘This! Exactly this!’-comments I had to remove, because I was starting to repeat myself! You can read Paul’s reviews on his blog and follow the blog on Twitter and Facebook. Of course you can also follow Paul himself on Twitter.