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Terri Cox Talks Chick Lit and Translated Fiction!

The purpose of these interviews are to get a more intimate look at how reading affects people and why certain different kinds of literature appeals to different people. Looking at the differences in reading habits between one identical sister and another proves that the books and literature have the power to touch people in so many different ways. Following on from my Readers Insights interview with the first of my two triplet sisters Toni in which she discussed her love of non-fiction and self-help books, I now present to you an interview with the second triplet sister Terri Cox, who gives us a reader’s perspective on Chick Lit and translated fiction, and why these mean so much to her.

My gorgeous sister. Again, I'm not biased, honest.

My gorgeous sister. Again, I’m not biased, honest.

Please introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m Terri, 24. I love reading and have done since I was a kid. My main passion is for Modern Foreign Languages, namely French, Spanish and Italian.
 
What kind of literature/books do you read?

Fiction. Definitely. I think I have read exactly one autobiography in my entire life. My two favourite genres are fantasy, such as Harry Potter, and what people would refer to as ‘chick lit’, although I read much more of the latter as I get older.
 
Why does this genre speak to you and appeal to you more than others? What is it you love about it?

Fantasy and magic are for the child in me – the one that still loves the feeling of Christmas morning – but the adult storylines of corruption, mystery, romance and war that run alongside them are gripping and thought-provoking.
 

I love reading women’s fiction because it’s relatable – a cliché, but true. I can’t count the times I have laughed out loud or shed a tear over stories that have happened to me before.

 

There is nothing more disappointing than reading a whole book and realising you could have guessed the outcome 300 pages ago.
  
Is there a good fan base and/or community behind this work or this kind of book?

Fantasy series always have huge followings. For Harry Potter, the story carries on long after you close the book. There is so much more to be learned from the fan community, I love that the stories are rich and detailed enough to have still have unanswered questions, that whole debates and theories can still be found online or with other fans that you come across.
 
Toni, Me, and Terri

Toni, Me, and Terri

What do you think makes a good book in this genre?

There’s a stereotype attached to ‘Chick lit’ – that it is mass-produced, cheesy, mindless stories. I don’t find that to be true, if you’re reading the right titles. For me, for a book in this genre to stand out, I have to care about the character, believe that someone like that could exist out there somewhere
.
 

A poor book in this genre for me personally is a predictable storyline. There is nothing more disappointing than reading a whole book and realising you could have guessed the outcome 300 pages ago.
 
I had the weirdest sense of déjà vu throughout the entire book – I had read the book before, but not in the same words.
Talk to me about some specific titles that are special or mean more to you and why. Is there a story behind why you value it? Did it make you feel a certain way when you read it?

A memorable title for me was during my year abroad I read a book called ‘Ti ricordi di me?’ in Italian by Sophie Kinsella, or ‘Remember me?’ in English. An advantage of reading a book in this genre in Italian for me was that the content was light and enjoyable, which I found helpful considering the actual language of the book was a big challenge. The book was a mess by the time I got through it, dog-eared and written all over in pencil. Because the book spoke about a lot everyday topics such as work and relationships and used a lot of everyday language, the vocabulary I learned from it was really useful. I read the same book a couple of years later in English, and I had the weirdest sense of déjà vu throughout the entire book – I had read the book before, but not in the same words.
 

Another book I loved was called the Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl – breaking my rule of thumb when it comes to non-fiction. It was written by an Australian lady called Shauna Reid and her weight-loss journey over the space of a few years. It was unbelievable how many of her diary entries could have been written by myself.
 
Who are your favourite authors and why?

Jane Costello and Lauren Weisberger are my ultimate ‘chick lit’ favourites (Lauren Weisberger is the author of The Devil Wear’s Prada). Jane Costello has a brilliant sense of humour, and for me her books have always been very dependable – most follow the stories of three main female protagonists who are friends – so I know exactly what kind of thing I’m going to get by reading the book. Having said that, she does still manage to weave a brilliant and original story for every single one of her characters throughout her books. For me, light entertainment and easy reading.
 

Jodi Picoult is another. I think the woman is a genius. But as a general rule after reading one of her books I need a good few weeks or even a few months break before reading another, as they go into very complicated, very deep, and very emotional storylines and are often full of sorrow.  They question society and morals. The court room trials are fascinating.
 

A great middle ground is Cecilia Ahern. Not quite as heavy as Picoult, but covers a wider range of issues than Jane Costello. And there is just a slight  mystical or spiritual edge and sometimes even a hint of the supernatural in some of her books.
 

J.K Rowling…for obvious reasons.
 
 
Where do you most like to buy your books?

I have a Kindle which is great for travelling, or if you need to get hold of a book straight away, but at the minute is in a corner gathering dust. I don’t see the appeal of yet another screen full of data. I buy my books from Waterstones…the closest I’ll get to the feel of a traditional bookshop.
 
How do you find out about new titles in this genre?

I rely on word of mouth from friends and family to recommend books for me. I find they have a much wider range in taste than me. If it were left solely up to me, I would stay in my comfort zone and just read authors similar to ones I already read. For that reason only, I am part way through a Stephen King book that you recommended to me. I wouldn’t have ever considered reading it otherwise. Likewise for the odd Dan Brown book, and books such as the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Genius works that I would otherwise miss out on.

 

What are you reading at the moment/looking to read next?

My next aim to find a good title, and buy it in French, Spanish and Italian. Reading books in foreign languages are a lot like study for the first few books you read, and can take a long time. But my long-term aim is to be able to read them for leisure just like any book I would read in English. A brilliant way to combine my two favourite hobbies.
Me and my literary sisters.

Me and my literary sisters.

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Toni Cox Talks Non-Fiction and Self-Help Books!

Today’s reader interview is with one of my triplet sisters, Toni. Toni and I are identical sisters, and we were brought up living very closely with each other – same bedroom, same family, all of the same school classes, same college, same university, and mostly the same groups of friends. We even worked in the same shop together for almost two years. In terms of the nature/nurture argument, theoretically we should have identical tastes! But the below interview proves that genes and environment do not necessarily dictate likes and dislikes, and also belief and faith. As you’ll see, Toni is now devoutly religious whereas I am about as atheist as it gets. Toni loves to read self-help books and travel writing, whereas I mainly read fiction. Read on to find out her reasons and motivations behind her book and reading choices.

My beautiful sister - I'm not biased because we're identical. Honest. *looks sheepish.*

My beautiful sister – I’m not biased because we’re identical. Honest. *looks sheepish.*

Please introduce yourself and tell the readers a little bit about you.

My name is Toni and I am 24. I have always loved reading. My parents would comment that my sisters and I would have to take a book everywhere with us, even in the kitchen to make a sandwich! Since a young age I have been interested in science. It grew as I got older to encompass subjects involving the mind and universe, and 3 years ago I became a Christian, specifically, a Latter-Day Saint (commonly known as a Mormon). This dramatically changed how I viewed the world and influenced my reading tastes – not only do I love reading books that educate and entertain me but I am also fascinated to learn about other belief systems, and of course, my own. 

What kind of literature/books do you read?

I have read books ranging from Sophie Kinsella- style (for relaxed entertainment) to books like Bill Bryson’s, still very entertaining but also educational. I have read several self-help books from Paul McKenna (the man is a genius). More recently in my life I have included books that strengthen my faith, including scriptures such as the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon. 

Why do these genres speak to you and appeal to you more than others? What is it you love about them?

When I was younger I discovered what people meant when they said you could get lost in a book – it can distract your mind and take you into someone else’s life, make you forget your own trials and tribulations for a while. I loved reading Sophie Kinsella because her books were very easy reading, and therefore relaxing, and also very very funny. Particularly during high school these books helped me keep my mind off my difficulties, and when my mind was whirring, it calmed me down.

Perhaps because of my own desire to improve myself, I began reading some self help books. Some were better than others but the end result was an interest in how people’s minds work, what motivates us, drives us, and helps us. It still continues now, while I read Paul McKenna, I also discovered Dale Carnegie, author of ‘How To Make Friends and Influence People’. Aside from this classic he has written others. When you read them it is like you have put on new glasses – your eyes are opened so much to the behaviour of yourself and others in your everyday life.

Books regarding my religion, and faith as a whole, appeal to me because they are so relevant to my life. Just as it is possible to feel weak emotionally, mentally or physically, it is possible to feel weak spiritually. We believe that just as your body grows weaker when it isn’t fed, so the spirit can grow weaker if not spiritually fed. This is why I read scripture and other books. They uplift me and strengthen my faith. As it is, there are some very funny authors within this genre who are also fantastic spiritual giants, making the genre both uplifting and entertaining at the same time.

When you read self-help books it is like you have put on new glasses – your eyes are opened so much to the behaviour of yourself and others in your everyday life.

Talk to me about some specific titles that are special or mean more to you and why. Is there a story behind why you value it? Did it make you feel a certain way when you read it?

It seems like an obvious answer, but the books that are most special to me are the Book of Mormon and the Bible. These I try to read every day even if it it just one verse. This is essential for my spirituality and I try to study them rather than simply reading. Sometimes I will read them like a novel- front to back, to get enjoyment out of them. This is how it started, and after I fell in love with the books, a desire to really study them grew. I wasn’t always great at this, and sometimes it slips. At these times I can really tell the difference in my life.

 I first started when I was issued a challenge from a couple in my church to read the Book of Mormon in 3 months. There was a quote from one of the Presidents (Prophets) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. This was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s statement. He testified that “the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles.” I realised that no matter how many times I read this amazing book, I will learn something new every single time. There is such a depth to it, it is never ending. It gives me peace, hope and happiness as I read it. The people in it inspire me, It is a learning tool but also a protection and a guide through life. Its teachings are always applicable to me, and for that reason, it will be the book that I read over and over my whole life.

There are two titles that I have read within the last few weeks that have had a profound impact in my life. They are small, but life changing. Stephen E Robinson is the author of ‘Believing Christ’ and ‘Following Christ’. To any member of our church, they are incredibly educating, reassuring and uplifting. They clarify so much that can be confusing or sound complicated in our doctrine, and give you that ‘aha!’ moment. They make people have hope and feel good about themselves. The subject of the former inspired me to give a talk on the same topic at a recent conference, and many people commented that it really helped them. I would recommend them to anyone.

One non-religious book in particular that is special to me is Bill Bryson’s ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’. It was recommended to me in high school by a science teacher. I read it and it utterly fascinated me – Bill Bryson is fantastic at that. He is incredibly funny and makes whatever his subject is gripping to the reader. I went on to study Biology at university, and there I found the book again at a book sale for a very cheap price. I have owned it ever since and have read it several times. This book led me to buy almost every book Bill Bryson has written. 

I read it and it utterly fascinated me – Bill Bryson is fantastic at that. He is incredibly funny and makes whatever his subject is gripping to the reader.

Me on the left and Toni on the right, a couple of years ago.

Me on the left and Toni on the right, a couple of years ago.

Who are your favourite authors and why? 

1) JK Rowling – Isn’t she on everyone’s list? It goes without saying.
2) Paul McKenna – The man is a genius and has made a difference in several areas of my life.
3) Bill Bryson – No one has ever made me laugh so much while attempting to educate me. His books are fascinating and incredibly well researched. To anyone new to his work, read ‘Notes on a Big Country’. You’ll be giggling for ages.
4) John Bytheway- He makes the gospel appealing and accessible to all ages, particularly youth and young adults. He is also a great speaker, very motivational, his talks get a lot of views on youtube. He has written ‘Righteous Warriors’, a book that helped many people understand some of the more tricky chapters of the Book of Mormon, and ‘Of Pigs, Pearls and Prodigals’, a commentary on the parables that Jesus taught in the Bible. 

Is there a good fan base and/or community behind this work or this kind of book?

Sophie Kinsella books have a huge following. I have never been involved in the fan community, but I can believe a large one exists! Those kind of books will always be immensely popular.

As for Paul Mckenna, there are many community boards and Facebook groups, where people discuss their progress and give advice to each other on the work they are doing in that particular area of their lives with the help of his books. He is very successful, the books are very successful. He has a passion for helping his readers and his fan base recognise that.They are passionate about helping each other. The self help genre is huge, absolutely huge. It is a reflection on the way the world is and the way it is progressing. People are wanting to take control of their lives and create their own meaning and happiness. As everyone is different, I believe this genre will just continue to boom.

If you count church membership as a ‘fan base’ for scripture, then I will say that the Church has a membership of 15 million today, and many more people have read and studied the Book Of Mormon. The Bible, in it’s different forms, is said to be the most read book in the world. The specific titles I have mentioned- particularly ‘Believing Christ’ and ‘Following Christ’ have devoted readers, I am one of them!

The self help genre is huge, absolutely huge.

What do you think makes a good book in this genre? 

I won’t pretend to know much about what makes a good author in a genre, but I know what I look out for in a book for myself. If I am entertained while being taught, being presented with something fascinating in a way that I can easily understand, then I will love it. Even better if I can apply these things into my own life, or share them with others. That is what makes a good book for me.

Where do you most like to buy your books?

I am most likely to buy my books from Amazon – they are cheap and I am happy to own second-hand books. If I can read the words and it doesn’t fall apart, it is good enough for me! I have had several books from charity shops, several of my Paul McKenna’s and Bill Bryson’s. Occasionally I will buy from Waterstone’s if I want to treat myself –  I love the atmosphere and layout in there, their displays are lovely. The Works is also a good place for books, particularly when not looking for anything in particular!

If I am entertained while being taught, being presented with something fascinating in a way that I can easily understand, then I will love it.

Me and my triplet sisters. L-R: Terri, Toni, and me.

Me and my triplet sisters. L-R: Terri, Toni, and me.

How do you find out about new titles in this genre?

Paul McKenna’s books are very well publicized because of his huge commercial success. I will usually only buy the book if it seems applicable or helpful to me at the time, but many of them have been. They are often advertised when you go onto websites such as Amazon, and on billboards and shop windows.

Bill Bryson is a travel writer, and actually the only travel writer I have read. His books are usually advertised in Waterstones, as there is an anticipation for his books.  The same applies for Sophie Kinsella – she is a bestselling author.

Books in my religious genre are sometimes quoted in talks given by our leaders, mentioned within other books within the genre and become quite popular in the church and are therefore shared by word of mouth. A couple of my books I have bought after seeing copies that belong to my friends, and a couple of them came from swaps at church. Amazon is very good at recommending similar books to the one you just bought, several have come from there. When I visited Utah 2 years ago, I visited the church’s book store, it is huge, and wonderful, I was in heaven! They also have 2 small LDS bookstores in England nearby our temples in Preston and London. 

What are you reading at the moment/looking to read next?

My next book will be a kind of long-term project so to speak. It is called Jesus the Christ by James E Talmage. It is a very famous book in our church, and a great way to get to know our Saviour. It is quite a heavy read- lot’s of big words!- but one that is very, very much worth it. 

I am hoping to have more time to read soon, and so I am looking for suggestions from the owner of this blog! I have already been recommended a book called ‘A Man Called Ove’, and so I hope to read that soon.

Toni (far left) is one of my four sisters. I am in the centre.

Toni (far left) is one of my four sisters. I am in the centre.

Coming soon: an interview with the third Cox triplet, Terri Cox. Look out for it!

Sam Harrison explains the fantasy genre!

Today I’m talking to one of my best friends, Sam Harrison, about the books that he most enjoys reading. We’ve heard from one reader already who discussed his love of the graphic novel and comic books and why; now we take a look at the fantasy genre and why it is so appealing to readers…

Sam Harrison...John Samuel Harrison in formal social circles ;)

Sam Harrison…John Samuel Harrison in formal social circles 😉

Please introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is John Samuel Harrison, I am a 26 year old Geology graduate and experienced IT technician from Kingston Upon Hull. I have a varied interest in art, sport and science. I have read throughout both my childhood and adult life from the tentative age of around 5 or 6 years old. This I believe has helped create what I have been told is quite an active imagination, which I have used to fuel projects of my own from short stories to comic book ideas throughout my life.

What kind of literature/books do you read? Why does this genre speak to you and appeal to you more than others? What is it you love about it?

Predominantly I would say I read more of the fantasy genre than any other. I would say this is because fantasy isn’t bound by modern convention, social norms or laws of physics. The worlds authors create are often so different to our own that the mere fact that it is a planetoid is the only similarity. The author can be as otherworldly or as familiar as the he/she wants and for the reader, there are a dozen sub-genres to choose from (as well as all the combinations thereof).

Overall, it’s the unknown element of fantasy that appeals to me. I like not knowing and discovering new things, I like to feel the thrill of adventure across an uncharted land. I love the hot-headed decisions that are made in dire situations, such as the sudden occurrence of a mythical beast no one has encountered. I love that a well-structured magic system can make or break a story and add depth that isn’t possible within conventional fiction. All of these elements allow me to ingratiate myself in the world as I read and make it my own. I get lost in the story which means more often than not I struggle to put a book down once I have started to get my teeth into it, as it were. If a reader wants to go out on a limb and experience a story that’s wholly new, fantasy is the genre to explore.

Talk to me about some specific titles that are special or mean more to you and why. Is there a story behind why you value it? Did it make you feel a certain way when you read it?

Jacka_Alex_Verus

I have read many different types of fantasy fiction, one example being the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka, which is a great introduction for to the world of urban fantasy series. It has a lot of what you’d expect—magical people doing magical things in a modern setting, with enough emphasis on the setting to make the story both original and believable. It also has some original elements that I found particularly intriguing, not least the fact that the protagonist’s main powers are passive and seemingly weak compared to others in the story.

Reading this particular book made me reflect on something which I found quite amusing. As a child I would imagine the Harry Potter world to be my ideal fantasy life. A hidden world of magic and mystery where for the most part everyone is kept safe and is moderately unaffected by magic, and when evil rears its ugly head some pure hearted soul quashes them with minimal losses. However, now that I’m a little older and I would hope to think wiser, the Alex Verus universe is what I think a real fantasy world would be like. It wouldn’t just be good people that always win. There would be no pure of heart goody-two-shoes who fixes everything. There would be real people making real, often catastrophic, mistakes. The Alex Verus universe accurately depicts the underlying dark element of our world that would still exist in a fantasy setting.

This has made me realise how much I have grown as a person, from a young, naïve dreamer to a man who accepts and understands the real and often harsh world we live in. That’s why having such a vast range of fantasy literature out there, for all ages, is so important.

Reading at a young age has helped me develop quite an active imagination.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

My favourite authors within the fantasy genre are the following:

Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss : The man is an all-round amazing guy. He is an avid RP player, bard and fighter extraordinaire within Acquisition Incorporated, as well as being an amazing writer. Just take a look at what he wrote on Goodreads about the third instalment of his book, which somehow has reviews despite the book not being released yet:

“While it’s nice to see folks out there giving this book five stars, and in some cases even reviewing it, I’ll admit that I’m kinda puzzled. After thinking it over for a while, I’ve realized there’s only one explanation for this:
Time travellers love my books.
This is strangely reassuring, as it lets me know that, eventually, I do finish my revisions, and the book turns out good enough so that I still have a following out there in the big ball of wibbly-wobbly…. timey-wimey…. stuff that I like to think of as the future.”

Scott Lynch: This is another man who is a wizard of words and puppetmaster of your emotions. He makes you fall in love with a character and hang on their every word before giving you a metaphorical wink and dropping the character off a cliff, ripping out your heart and stamping on it! I now don’t trust him as several times he has brought me nearly to tears or so angry with the “bad guy” I could have spit blood!

To demonstrate this man’s sheer tenacity, here is a tweet from him from July 17 2012:

“If you want to write a negative review, don’t tickle me gently with your aesthetic displeasure about my work. Unleash the goddamn Kraken.”

Is there a good fan base and/or community behind this work or this kind of book?

In short – yes! The longer answer would be that there is an amazing and incredibly vast fan base and community across the fantasy genre. Fans from every category, from steampunk to entire world-building extravaganzas such as the Discworld series, flock together and create vast amounts of fan-based content. People write fan faction, fan art, develop games, graphic novels, films, all stemming from fantasy fiction.

Fan bases are represented at EXPO’s and various other conventions worldwide, where the authors can come and meet their fans and give talks on their thought processes. More well-known authors such as Patrick Rothfuss often help out smaller projects and raise vast amounts of money for charity. The fantasy genre is the estranged cousin of sci-fi and “nerd” culture which often overlap in various crossovers. It is a very supportive but often highly critical fan culture where the meek tremble but the brave rise among the masses!

The fantasy genre isn’t bound by modern convention, social norms or laws of physics.

What do you think makes a good book in this genre?

What makes a novel good? This is certainly one of those questions that can generate a lot of debates and discussion. Most, I believe, would describe a successful fantasy novel as original, interesting, or maybe even breath-taking. None of these things actually define what a fantasy novel is. The bare bones of it is that it needs to be a compelling story. It doesn’t need to be 100% original.

What it needs is a spark, and that spark triggers off the reader’s imagination. It creates a bond between the literature and the reader, and if you can do that, you can make the reader relate to the story, no matter how fantastical.

Fantasy writers also need to make their characters believable. This is essential if you want to hook and keep readers interested in the story. A great way to achieve this is to apply logic to every character in every fantasy world you create.

This means creating a set of rules that apply to the world and the characters. The rules can be based on either real life or they can be simply invented by you. These rules will also have to dictate how your magic systems work in the world and how they affect inhabitants. And most of all – get to know your imaginary world – you need to be able to describe it in detail if you are going to convince your readers that it exists!

There is an amazing and incredibly vast fan base and community across the fantasy genre.

Where do you most like to buy your books?

This depends on my mood, and whether I am planning on any travelling in the imminent future. If I’m planning a nice quite evening at home with my slippers on and rum in my hand, I would go to Waterstones and buy a hardcopy of the book. If I am planning on travelling anywhere I would purchase it from the Amazon Kindle Store and download it to my aptly named “travelling companion” which is of course my Paperwhite Kindle. This allows me to carry multiple books and still travel light.

How do you find out about new titles in this genre?

I use Goodreads which is a website that allows the user to log what they’re reading and have read as well as those they wish to read. The website also includes a rate and review function, which allows all members to review the book and rate it. It is usually through these reviews that I pick my next purchase. Alternatively, I’m sometimes approached by my friends with new book suggestions.

What are you reading at the moment/looking to read next?

I have just finished the second instalment of the Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss (recommended by a friend through word-of-mouth.) I am going to start reading Rogues which is a thrilling collection of twenty-one original stories by an all-star list of contributors including a new Game of Thrones story by George R. R. Martin.

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Robert Mainprize talks The Art of Graphic Novels!

As followers of my blog will know, I tend to interview professionals within the publishing industry, and gain insights and words of wisdom from those who produce and help produce fantastic literature. Rest assured, the interviews will keep on coming! But I wanted to start expanding on the scope of my blog. I already have some posts in the works regarding publishing events and news, but today I bring you a new category to Words Are My Craft: Reader Insights.

Who are the people behind the sales figures? Why do certain people read certain types of literature? What kind of writing speaks to them more than others, and what are the reasons for this? In order to start answering these questions, I’ve been interviewing a series of readers who shine a light on what kind of publications they enjoy.

Kick-starting this feature is Robert Mainprize, a good friend (and ex-boss!) of mine. He discusses his love of comic books and the reasons he loves this medium so much…

Robert Mainprize, good friend and comic book fanatic.

Robert Mainprize, good friend and comic book fanatic.

Please introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m Robert Mainprize, Assistant Manager of a That’s Entertainment Store selling DVDs, CDs and games. I studied web design at university and my main passion is professional wrestling. Also I don’t read. This may be an odd statement to make on a blog about books and authors, but I thought I should get it out of the way early!

The biggest misconception about this statement however, is that I lack the imagination to get lost in a book. I obviously can’t measure my imagination nor do I think it’s an issue if I didn’t have one, but I believe I do. Imagination is a key part of web design and wrestling, I can lose myself in a great technical wrestling match that involves an intricate story told by 2 artists mastering their craft in a ring, just as much as any one can reading a masterfully crafted novel. I feel that I have a short attention span, something that in this technological age I’m afraid many of us now have. I want to enjoy books – I own books, but I cannot sit and read them!

What kind of literature/books do you read?

 Because of this I’ve found a love for graphic novels. The quick dialogue accompanied by visual artwork allows me to quickly grasp a scene without reading pages of adjectives to set the scene.

Why does this genre speak to you and appeal to you more than others? What is it you love about it?

Graphic novels and comics have always appealed to me for both the story telling element and the artistry. Much like books, different authors have different writing styles and the writers themselves can become celebrities within the comic book world. Artists also find their niche and can creatively put their own spin on characters we know and love, visually setting a mood within the scene. Put together they create an amazing medium that produces larger than life characters and stories.

 I feel that I have a short attention span, something that in this technological age I’m afraid many of us now have.

 

Talk to me about some specific titles that are special or mean more to you and why. Is there a story behind why you value it? Did it make you feel a certain way when you read it?

I’d like to discuss two graphic novels that will always be favourites of mine.

The first is Superman: Red Son, a DC Comics mini-series written by Mark Millar. It takes a different approach to the normal Superman story and poses the question: What if Superman had crash landed in the Soviet Union rather than America?

The story spans over 50 years through Superman’s life and how different things could have gone with a relatively small change. From the moment I started reading I couldn’t stop, the idea of taking a story I knew so well and changing it completely fascinated and delighted me. I think the reason I love it is because it plays with the idea of how time can change everything, and because of it, a loved hero could become someone very different.

The second is Marvels, a 4-issue limited series written by Kurt Busiek. The reason I love this series is similar to my first choice, it’s different. Most comic series follow the protagonist. What this series does is follow the story of a photographer, an everyday man coming to terms with superhumans appearing around him. It’s an unusual spin off from the norm, which is why I find it intriguing. It’s also a great starting point for anyone just getting started with comics.

Who are your favourite authors/artists and why? Is there a good community behind this kind of work?

Although there are communities behind specific authors and artists, I’ve never been someone to stick to just one or two people. I like to explore the differences rather than stick to just a few. Although this means I have never garnered any affection to specific writers, it allows me to sample lots of different and varied work.

What do you think makes a good book in this genre?

What makes a graphic novel successful in my eyes is a good collaboration between artist and writer. The story is the key element but because the writer is simply writing dialogue, a lot of work has to be done by the artist to ensure the right mood is being set visually.

Where do you most like to buy your books?

Although most high street book stores stock graphic novels, their selection is usually small. I find small independent book stores can sometimes be best but first choice would always be a dedicated comic book store, there are a few dotted around but sometimes tend to be on side streets in big cities. A lot of comic book conventions are happening around the UK at the moment as well, these are amazing to meet like minded people and buy all manner of merchandise.

What makes a graphic novel successful in my eyes is a good collaboration between artist and writer.

How do you find out about new titles in this genre?

With the vast amount of new content released weekly it can be difficult to keep up with new titles. Usually a quick trip to any comic book store will let you know what’s new. Plus most comics will have adverts in the back advertising upcoming issues.

What are you reading at the moment/looking to read next?

I just bought a stack of single issue comics from a local comic convention. I often buy bundles of comics not knowing what they are, sometimes you find some hidden gems you didn’t know existed that way!

Are you a comic book/graphic novel fan? If so, why? And if not, which types of books do you enjoy reading? I want to hear from you!

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