An interview with JANE of the blog 'DEAR AUTHOR'


Viv : How and when was Dear Author born?
We just celebrated our third birthday. The site started in April of 2006. Jane and I knew each other from other romance sites. She decided to start a blog to do book reviews and asked if some of her friends were interested in joining her. Initially, I was the only one who decided to. Later a few of our other romance reading friends, Janine, Jan and Jennie got coaxed into submitting reviews. Later we added a few other reviewers to cover genres that weren't getting much attention.

Viv :Your personal description on Dear Author - I love that marvellous Vivien –Scarlet avatar so much - explains that after a long break, ten years ago you started again reading romance. A particular novel made the miracle? (or the doom if you can’t help it, now, like me).
Jane found that Scarlet picture and I love it too! I used to read lots of older English authors in the 1970s. Tons of Georgian era books (love that era) and some Regency though that time period hadn't started to achieve the status it has now. Then when I started college in 1982, I didn't have much time for fun reading and romance fell by the wayside. Whenever I saw romance books in stores, it was all bodice rippers and the worst of the cliches hurled at us about them. Then one day, I got a catalogue in the mail that specialized in romance books. I idly flipped through it and really didn't recognize many of the authors and honestly wasn't that interested in reading all the English set historicals. But the Western ones caught my eye. Going by the descriptions, and remember I didn't know most of these authors, I picked a few to try. Some were great such as Patricia Gaffney (did you know she wrote a few Westerns?) and Maggie Osborne. Some not so great and if they were the only authors I had tried, I doubt I would have ever gotten back into reading romance!

Viv :(BTW: I like how you address the author of the bookdirectly -- dear author -- as if the review were a letter.)
Jane decided this approach to our reviews. I can't tell you what made her pick it but it is unique. Some authors have said they love it. Or at least like it. Others find it creepy. Jane says she doesn't write her reviews "to the author" per se but I find that I construct mine as if I am writing directly to the author. I've discovered this keeps my snark level down too!

Viv :Jane and Jayne, the Ja(y)nes: are you a terribile couple, scaring authors and publishers with your opinions?
LOL. I try not to. Jane is the trouble stirrer. She found out during the first RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference she attended that some publishers, editors and authors wanted nothing to do with bloggers. Last year, things were a bit better as she had some contacts and friends made online and at the previous conference. But still, we hear of comments made in closed loop situations about how people don't like us. I'm not sure if it's our style they don't like. Whether they got a bad review from us or that we haven't reviewed one of their books yet but - sniff! - some people don't care for us.

Viv :Any angry author with you?
I've only had one post negatively to a review I've made. Now in private, some of them may have torn me to shreds but I've not heard of it.

Viv :Do you think today's romance blogs and sites can influence the market, at least in English speaking countries? Do publishers usually pay attention to blogs, yours in particular?

People seem to act as if we can but I beg to doubt it. The online community is hardly all of the romance reading population. Perhaps the newer, younger editors and publishers might read us and take into account what they see on our blogs but recently, we've learned that many publishers, due to the economic situation, will be producing fewer advanced reading copies of upcoming books. And that the majority of the ones made will be going to print reviewers not blog reviewers. The word we got is that they don't seem to think we influence readers as much as print media.

Viv :How many readers a day visit Dear Author?
I got these statistics from Jane for February of this year. Unique visitors: 76089. Total 168022

Viv : How do you choose the novels to review? You have reviewed more than six hundred!! How many books can you read a year? Do you read only romance novels?

Some of what I read are books I buy while, more recently, they've been books sent by publishers. Jane gets all the arcs then mails us a list and we put in our requests. Then she mails those out to us. Which is why we like to get copies well in advance of the release date. Some authors have begun to send us e-arcs which we love as we all have ereaders now. Last year I read roughly 200 books. Which is about average for me. I mainly read romance but do fit in some historical fiction, non-fiction, mysteries and thrillers.

Viv : Pride and Prejudice aside, did you find your perfect romance novel? (among contemporary authors).I adore Patricia Veryan novels. She writes what I used to read in the 70s. Swashbuckling type stuff with men of honor and the fair damsels they adore. Jo Beverley has continued some of this style with her Georgian era Malloren books. One thing I like about both authors is that their women are period yet strong and able to take their own parts in the stories rather than just standing around waiting to be rescued.
Viv :Which are your fave novels?
Veryan's The Golden Chronicle series is fantastic.
Viv :I think that you, like me, prefer historical reads to contemporaries or romantic suspense. Which are your fave authors in the three cathegories?
Jo Beverley,Patricia Veryan,Carla Kelly,Diana Norman/Ariana Frankli
n - sorry, couldn't stop at only three!Anne Stuart (could count either as historical or contemp),Susan Elizabeth Phillips,Jennifer Crusie,Anne Stuart,Laura Griffin .Hmmmm, can't think of a third rom susp author off the top of my head. Viv : Is there a new, promising author we’ll soon hear of?If you want to try m/m, I think Alex Beecroft is fabulous. Sherry Thomas is a great new historical author and I see from your website that you love Elizabeth Hoyt too.

Viv :Never thought to become a writer? Any plot stirring your mind?

No, no. No aspirations in that direction.

Viv :Why does romance still hugely fascinate (female) readers of every social, educational or political background? An escape from reality, longing to live a passionate love story, adventure, lack of adequate men in real life?
I think it's the built in happy ending. The feeling that in this world, things will work out and end as we would love to see, but rarely see, in real life. It's "feel good" reading instead of dry, "good for you" reading.

Viv :Do you think the average romance writing standard has lately improved?

Overall, yes. There have been some great writers all along but by and large, things do seem to be better.

Viv :Which are the virtues (or the flaws) you more appreciate in a romance hero and heroine? Reading a novel, do you ever match a hero with an actor?

I want characters I can believe in. So they need some amount of faults or they're just too perfect. I want characters to grow emotionally while I'm their story. I want them to be better people or at least trying to be better. It brings to mind Jack Nicholson's line to Helen Hunt in "As Good as it Gets." "You make me want to be a better man." That train of thought from either character in a romance is what I like to see. And yes, I do get mental images of certain actors and actresses while reading a book. Sometimes it's because the author basically describes their character as a certain famous person or flat out has another character say, "You look like..." Other times, someone just comes to my mind as I read the story.

Viv : I think that originality at any cost is not foundamental in a romance plot, since all the plots have already been written. If you agree with me, what, then, makes a romance a worthy read?

Yes, I agree. "There's nothing new under the sun" and certainly few original things in a romance novel. But as long as the author doesn't stick to an entire book filled with cliches and standard plot lines, I'll try it if it appears interesting to me. And there have been books which seem to be written straight "by the book" which have worked for me. I want a book with good writing, strong characters, that isn't so standard that I can tell from the very beginning *exactly* how everything will be plotted, how all the characters will act and react and just when certain things will happen. I find I skim books like that whether or not they deserve such treatment from me. Just because I've read similar ones already so many times.

Viv :When do you read, and write your reviews? Is it still kind of a passion, or do you live it sometimes like it were a work?

I read after I get home from work and sometimes, if it's slow, at work. I try to immediately jot down my thoughts and impressions as soon as possible after I finish a book and even sometimes while I'm reading it. This makes writing a review much easier. If I can go straight to my computer and write the review just after finishing the book, it's even easier. But sometimes I'm just not in the mood then. I do like to finish a review within a week of ending the book.

Viv :What's in your opinion the most overestimated novel, ever? I'll stick to deceased authors so as not to anger anyone! Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have never thrilled me. Viv :What's the most underestimated? Ivanhoe.

Viv :I’m sure our readers would be delighted with your advice: would you please give them three you must read this titles?
Gosh, I hate to give specifics since the titles might not be available in Italian and there's nothing I hate so much as being told that "such and such" is a great book, movie, etc and then I can't get my hands on it. Books by any of the authors I've mentioned are good starting points. I think many of them are popular enough that translations would hopefully be there.

Viv : Let’s talk about sex, in romance, I mean. Deeply , anatomically descriptive sex scenes are more and more frequent. They take four, five pages, sometimes breaking the narrative rythm. What do you think of them?
Bor-ing. I tend to read the first one then skim or skip the rest and especially when they're so clinical and the author seems to be including everything she can think of or has seen in other books.

Viv :Have you ever read a novel because of the nice cover? Which kind of cover do you prefer?
Yes, I love to see historical paintings as covers. I started reading Diana Norman because of the cover for "A Catch of Consequence." I like just about everything except the cartoon covers.

Viv: If you could live in a romance, which period would you choose, and why?
Oh a Georgian (mid 18C) one because of the clothes! Which I know are probably hell to actually wear but they look so lovely. Also, it was the Age of Reason, when scientific thought was coming back into vogue. Things weren't as strict as in the Victorian era. Though the thought of living without modern medicine would scare me silly


1 commento:

  1. Hola: te escribo este comentario para decirte que tienes un blog genial, lleno de buenos e interesantes datos.

    Quiero, si me lo permites, compartir contigo y tus lectores más información sobre la raza de perro Golden Retriever y un video del Golden Retriever.

    Espero que te guste mi blog de mascotas y dejame un comentario si te apetece

    Saludos desde España


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