Taztic of Fantastically Epic, All night long… (or as it’s been recently renamed, Fantasy Reviews by Taztic) is a fresh new face on the blogging block. Her point of view, mostly reading and reviewing epic fantasy, is an interesting one and I was curious to see what the blogging world looked like for a relative newbie, so I asked Taz for a Blogger Query. She said yes and I had a lot of fun with her answers. I hope you do too!
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Taztic?
Taztic is a female ostrich :-) I bury my head in fantasy novels when real life gets too much! I’m a Brit who works as a software programmer in a hugely male dominated environment, and a lot of the time my 9-5 is the stuff of nightmares. Reading is my escape. As soon as my young son is in bed of an evening I’m flat out on the sofa with a cup of tea and a good book.
What got you into blogging?
Well, I’ve got to confess first off that I haven’t got properly into it yet! I *wanted* to start a blog where I could talk about my love of Fantasy and hopefully find some like-minded souls, because no one in my family, nor any of my friends are into the genre at all. And I get lonely! That was the idea, but I’ve not found my blogging feet yet, and realistically I think it’ll be the New Year before I really settle into my groove. I’ve got plenty of reviews stacking up in readiness though :-)
Why Fantastically Epic, All night long…?
With a full-time job and a three year old Son, I don’t get much time to myself. My only reading time tends to be late at night, and I’m usually lost in one Fantasy Epic or another until the wee small hours. I’ve to be up at 6 during the week, and often I’m reading so late that there’s really no point going to sleep at all. [Ed. Note: I applaud the fact you can keep your eyes open past 10.30 PM on a week night! I'm usually so knackered the book lands on my nose at ten.]
What is your unique selling point? Interviews, humour, news coverage?
Hmmm. I was hoping that my USP would be a pure focus on Epic. I’ve seen a lot of blogs featuring Urban heavily with some Epic sprinkled about, but I wanted to be ALL about the Epic..kind of, inflicting my obsession on the Blogosphere. I’m still not 100% convinced that’s a wise idea, as I’d imagine most people like a broad spread of the genre, but I’m totally Epic at heart and I do think it’s best to stick to what you know, and talk about what you love.
What are your goals for your blog?
Just one goal really, which is to make some new friends. Does that sound sad? Lol. With my young Son at home I never go out, literally, if I’m not at work I’m home looking after him, and whilst I have no complaints about this at all, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get lonely once in awhile. So really I’d love to just to ‘meet’ some folk who enjoy the same type of books as me, and this is one way I can do it from my living room.
One of the eternal book reviewer debates is to rate or not to rate? Where do you stand on the issue?
It’s one of those things that I think is useful up to a point. If I’m having a browse on Amazon the starred reviews are a handy way for me to get a feel for opinion within just a few seconds. But past that, it’s tricky. How do you ‘rate’ a piece of art that is so very subjective? It’s impossible really. Stars out of five, or marks out of ten, don’t really work for me personally beyond that initial quick marker. I’d rather see something like a thumbs up or a thumbs down, followed by a detailed explanation. I can see a place for rating, but it’s not for me.
Negative reviews, yay or nay? And why?
Honestly? I know people often have a whale of a time with these, but I’d rather not spend my time on the negatives if I can avoid it. If I don’t like a book, nine times out of ten I won’t finish it, and I’m not going to review something I’ve not finished. I’d happily post a “DNF” with a quick reason as to why, but it would be extremely brief. I’d rather spend my time reading and talking about the titles that have completely blown me away. For me, my workday is filled with so much negativity that I like to steer clear of it after hours as much as I can.
Epic fantasy is your niche by your own admission. What is it about this particular flavour of fantasy that you love so much?
It’s all my Mum’s fault. [Ed. Note: Bravo, Taz's Mum!] I borrowed her copy of The Hobbit when I was nine, and that was it for me. It’s a genre that filled my childhood completely and instead of growing out of it I just grew more and more into it. Back then it was the magical aspect I think, the dragons and the fatherly wizards and what have you. These days it’s priceless to me for the escapism value, I don’t want to read about the world I live in, I want something completely different at the end of the day. I want to be taken to entirely new worlds and spend hours there learning how everything functions. I love complex magic systems and intricate plots, oodles of world-building detail and endless miles of fantasy landscape to get lost in. For me there’s no other genre that’s so vast and consuming. I’m a total Epic junkie.
If someone asks you for a recommendation for a gateway novel for epic fantasy that isn’t Tolkien or Martin, which would you recommend and why?
Anything by David Gemmell. He’s a wonderful entry point for the genre as he’s hugely accessible and can turn an Epic in less than 400 pages, so people don’t feel so overwhelmed.His Rigante series has always been my favourite, and Sword in The Storm is the title I most attempt to foist onto non-Epic fans. With Gemmell it’s all about the characters, he’s such a master of his craft. I can’t ever recommend him highly enough. He’s the only author I’ve ever shed a tear over when I heard of his death. [Ed. Note: Another one of the authors I need to read, as all my friends love him.]
How important are blogs to your reading choices?
They’re becoming increasingly important as I slowly find my way around the Blogosphere. I’m starting to rummage about in people’s review indexes so I can see who has similar tastes to me and pick up some new recommendations that way. Same for Twitter, I’m still finding my feet and trying to figure out the best way to filter information, but there’s a wealth of reading choice gold out there just waiting for me!
How do you think blogs and reviewers fit in the book business?
I’m not too sure just yet if I’m honest. I think long-standing, reputable blogs must be a pretty useful, and hugely cost-effective resource for publishers. But like anything on the Internet, there’s an awful lot to wade through before you find the good stuff. I guess if publishers have the time to find the right Bloggers then it can be a marriage made in Heaven.
What is your current read and what book are you most eagerly awaiting?
I’m reading John Gwynne’s Malice at the moment, and I’m really looking forward to Sanderson’s A Memory of Light. If only because I can’t imagine a book with a chapter containing 79,000 words. One chapter! I ask you!
Is there something else you’re obsessed with other than books?
Just my Son :-) It’s hugely predictable I know, but he’s my world :-)
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 group by series, and arrange by size. Many moons ago I used to run the SFF section in a local bookshop, and I have a very odd and long standing habit of ‘fronting out’ my core titles, even though it looks a bit odd with just one copy! Funnily enough though, last night I watched my Son carefully arrange his Thomas the Tank Engine books by colour…and that got me to thinking….. [Ed. Note: Alright! You've a little librarian in the making there :-D]