Hi everyone! So, those of you who read the post of two weeks ago from Emma Smith of Book Monkey, will know about the new JFB initiative to get something up each week from one of the SF/Fantasy/Horror bloggers out there. We’re aiming to get a new piece of content up every Wednesday (don’t check last week: FAIL), whether it be a blogger interview or a guest blog, to give you, the reading public, the chance to get a feel for all aspects of the industry, the community and the changing face of publishing. So, without further ado, here’s our interview with Marc Aplin of website Fantasy-Faction, and a little insight into the blogging world.
1. Why did you start blogging?
Ha, well – pretty unconventionally. I’ve fought in Boxing, Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts all my life. Then, in February 2010 I was in a Cage Fight and got slammed on my back. I didn’t think much about it at the time, and actually went on to win the fight by submission. I fought again towards the end of 2010, but found that during training my back was killing me, forcing me to end sessions early. Eventually, even sitting down for more than 10 minutes would leave me in agony. I actually won the fight I was training for within a minute by Knock-Out. However, even within that one minute, the pain I experience in my back proved to me I couldn’t do it anymore; I had to give up what I loved.
I was quite depressed and I had a ridiculous amount of free time. I used to train for 6 hours a day with my friends surrounding me – now I didn’t have that. So, someone suggested I ‘pick up a book or something’ and that is what I did. I picked up a book about assassins from Waterstones and found that the action and adventure within those pages filled that huge hole I had in my life. That was the ‘hobby’ part of the equation sorted; the next was the ‘friends’, which is why I started Fantasy-Faction. I wanted to create a place I could share my experience reading and interact with a community.
2. What keeps you blogging?
What keeps me blogging is that there are people out there who won’t read a book unless they are told it is very, very good. Something that scares me about life is that often we won’t take the time to experience something unless we are told it is worth the time to do it. Certainly, as more and more books are being published, this is becoming more the case. I see my job as a way to find and present to readers the books that they truly cannot miss. My reputation relies upon my ability to do this.
3. Has blogging changed how you read?
It makes it harder, honestly. You are always looking for flaws and trying not to get too excited about a book too early on. I am good friends with several publishers and so it breaks my heart when I read a book and have to give it a bad review – because I now know how much work you guys put into them. There is also the fact that I know I can influence people when buying or not buying a book, and that causes me a lot of stress. So in some ways, reading has become depressing for me . . . but, then, you pick up a book that is so magnificent and it forces you to forget all of that stuff. You wake up three hours later with your jaw hanging open and realize that you haven’t even made a coffee this morning . . . then you remember why you do this. These are the books you look for and that is why – despite all its faults – blogging is the best job in the world.
4. What are your all-time favourite reads?
Easy! I’ve been reviewing books now for almost two years and reading much, much longer, but my favourites list is relatively short:
Lirael by Garth Nix
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett.
Way Of The Shadows by Brent Weeks.
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie.
5. What is your best blogging moment? (i.e. did you get to interview a certain author? Were you contacted by a publisher personally?)
Hearing Anne Perry mention my blog on a panel with authors such as George R.R. Martin and Anne Lyle at Eastercon would have been the highlight until very recently. Then, about a month ago I was sent a copy of Myke Cole’s novel Control Point and within the acknowledgements was a thank you to myself for my enthusiasm for his book. I was honestly almost reduced to tears by that . . .
6. Have you met any other bloggers?
I would like to think that I can call James Long, Anne Perry and Jared Shurin friends. James Long paved the way for bloggers such as myself . . . he was the first person who really got close to the publishing community and proved our worth to them. He has since been snapped up by a publisher and now works within the industry, so for many of us he is a big inspiration. Jared and Anne inspire me because they are so damned brilliant at everything they do. Each time I write a review I compare it to theirs and hang my head in shame. Then, as I edit it I have something to aim for and so, again, they are a big part of what drives me.
7. What content does your blog cover? (i.e. Just books, or other things?)
Just fantasy books for now. We have a huge forum community too – where we talk about pretty much everything. That being said, we’ve been thinking about doing a monthly anime and video game feature. There is even talk of a fortnightly Sci-Fi post ☺
8. What would you recommend to anyone looking to start a blog?
Don’t do it . . . If that didn’t stop you – then perhaps you could do one. The thing with blogs is that they are easy to start and then give up on. If you give up the first excuse you get (some Marc Aplin guy says: ‘don’t do it’ for example) you aren’t cut out for the amount of work that is required. To grow a blog you need to be consistently interesting. A post a day, a post twice a week, a post a month – it doesn’t matter – but you need to choose a time and stick with it. To be interesting you need to blog about something you are passionate about. You need to need to write about your subject. If you don’t care about what you are writing about, why should anybody else?
9. Do you write yourself? If so, has blogging helped or hindered your writing?
I’ve realized how terrible of a writer I am 😉 Well, actually, I’ve realized how many GOOD writers there are out there and how far I have to go. That being said, this isn’t a bad thing. A lot of people that write think that their first book deserves to be published. I’ve realized that I’m most likely going to have to write 3 or 4 before I even send off a query – it’ll take that much practice. When I interviewed Brandon Sanderson, one of the finest living genre writers, he told me he wrote more than 8 novels before getting a contract – things like this have grounded me and meant that I’m prepared for the long haul.
10. What’s your most popular blog post to date?
The Man Who Thought He Was King attracted over 70,000 views in under a week. It was about a Self-Published author who trashed the publishing industry and made outrageous claims that he outsold authors such as Hobb and Tolkien. I was so angry that he would trick people into buying his books that I blogged about it, and it appeared that people shared my opinion that there needs to be some kind of control on the claims that certain (VERY FEW) self-published authors make. For example, he was saying: “I outsell Tolkien” when really he was outselling Tolkien on a Sunday night at 2:00am for about 5 seconds . . .
Thanks for that Marc! To check out Fantasy-Faction, click here to be fired over to it!
What do you think of our new initiative guys? Do you like it? Got a blogger you recommend we get in touch with? Comment below!