It’s baaacckk! Yes, I’m kicking off a new round of Blogger Queries and here to help me do so is Lisa McCurrach from Over The Effing Rainbow. I’ve known Lisa on Twitter for a while now and she’s always very entertaining on there. She also has remarkably similar book taste to me *cough* Emma Newman, Sebastien de Castell, Liz de Jager *cough* so she was the perfect guest to help me restart these Blogger Queries. I really enjoyed Lisa’s answers and I hope you do too!
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Lisa McCurrach?
She’s a 31-year-old Scottish bookworm with far too much time on her hands. Or not enough of it, some days…
What got you into blogging?
Heh, see above!
Seriously, though, what got me into it was having a lifelong love of reading that spent a long time feeling, to me, very much like something best done in private. I’d never had very many people in my life who enjoyed reading as much as I do, until I started discovering social media and with it, a whole world of people who were as passionate about it as I am. Suddenly I had all these people to share my enthusiasm with, and blogging about what I read seemed like a good way to do that.
Why Over The Effing Rainbow?
It’s something that came to mind as a name for my blog because it’s a term I use to describe my own general state of mind, ie. not entirely here all of the time! I do daydream an awful lot, and I decided I liked this as a blog name because I thought it would convey that thinking aspect, as well as being something funny and a bit punchy that helps it to stand out. And there are recognisable SF/F connotations because really, who hasn’t heard that song or seen The Wizard of Oz?
What is your unique selling point? Interviews, humour, news coverage?
Oh gosh, Introvert Me hates this question…
I’ve covered a variety of features already in this respect, and I aim to keep branching out and trying new things that interest me. Some have worked and some need a bit of work, if I’m being honest with myself, but I think the main thing I want to bring to the table here is really just an honest, enthusiastic and above all positive approach to talking about books. I got into this because I’m a fan, first and foremost, and if anything’s going to ‘sell’ my blog to readers I’d want it to be the kind of safe, cheerful discussion space that I wanted for so long, and didn’t think I had.
What are your goals for your blog?
Not screwing it up, basically! I think my last answer serves well here too; I’m not really in this with an agenda, but if my blog gives me a voice then I fully intend to use it, especially as I get more of a handle on what I’m doing and how best (for me) to do it.
That said, one thing I would really like to focus more on is the call for more diverse science fiction and fantasy, because there is so much of it out there that deserves a signal boost, and I think every voice counts in that respect. I wish I could highlight it all, really, but I hope to find ways to feature more of it on my blog in future.
One of the eternal book reviewer debates is to rate or not to rate? Where do you stand on the issue?
This is one of the things I’ve been figuring out as I go, actually. I appreciate book ratings as a way of getting across a first impression, and if that’s all a reader is looking for then that can work for them, but on the other hand it kind of forces you to simplify something that isn’t really simple at all.
I did include ratings in my reviews for a while, but very recently decided to cut that part out when I’m writing something up on my blog. Goodreads covers that for me, so I’m not leaving ratings out completely, but I don’t see them as being much more than the tip of an iceberg.
Negative reviews, yay or nay? And why?
In general? Nay. As I said before, I’m all about the positive, because I feel like a positive attitude is something the SF/F community needs more of. I feel most at home in that community when we’re celebrating something instead of breaking it down. This isn’t to say that criticism, if it’s constructive, has no place in reviews. It absolutely does, and it can be conducive to a good discussion, but negativity for its own sake is a turn-off for me.
How important are blogs to your reading choices?
Very. Though it might be more honest to say they’re hazardous to my health, because one of these days my TBR pile probably really is going to topple and crush me. Book Addiction, party of one…
Really, though – I think they’re a valuable way of raising awareness of what’s out there, let alone what’s good or bad, and this can’t be a bad thing. In terms of what’s being said… I actually try not to read someone else’s review of a book that I plan to read until I’ve read and reviewed it myself, but things like spotlight features and author interviews are a great way of discovering new books, and I absolutely have go-to blogs for those things.
How do you think blogs and reviewers fit in the book business?
Reviewers are readers, so I think we’ve always gone hand in hand, but with blogs and social media being so much of the norm now, it’s all but impossible to ignore what people think and what they want. Obviously this has an upside and a downside, but from a positive standpoint I think it’s encouraging to know that we’re not just yelling into a void. There’s a lot of interaction going on that can and does do great things for selling books, and it’s pretty exciting to be involved in that at all.
What is your current read and what book are you most eagerly awaiting?
Oh, God. [Consults her list]
Right now I’m reading Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz, though I may well be finished by the time this interview goes live! After that is going to be Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell, which is the follow-up to his debut novel Traitor’s Blade. I’m all about the action-packed fun right now!
As for eagerly awaiting… Oh, God. [Consults her list again] It feels like there isn’t much that isn’t on my radar, but I have to give a mention to a few in particular. Jim Butcher (whose work I rather like, by the way…) is releasing The Aeronaut’s Windlass, which is the first book in a new steampunk series, later this year. That’s a must-have. So is The Vagrant by Peter Newman. It’s his debut novel, and it’s due out in the UK in April. I cannot wait to get my hands on it! The same goes for Emma Newman’s Planetfall, which I don’t think has a UK release date yet but is slated for a US release later this year. Then there’s House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard, which is due out in August.
I’ll stop there before I ramble, but there are SO MANY…
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?
Tea and cake to go with them. My needs are simple, really.
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?
Actually, I’m still in the procrastination-filled process of settling into a new house, so I don’t have bookshelves so much as bookpiles. When I do have shelves, though, I will alphabetise the heck out of all that noise. It might even stay alphabetised. Who knows!