It’s Tuesday, which means the return of Curiosity Quills’ newest column, the Book Blog Spotlight – a feature column about book review sites! Review blogs are well established by now as one of the best and most popular routes by which readers find recommendations for good quality books in the endless slush pile of new and otherwise unknown authors.
This is word of mouth, made grand and far-reaching by the power of the internet age, and in this column we will spotlight a different blog to talk about what they review, how and why, helping you find new places to scour for awesome books.
So without further delay, may I introduce this week’s guest, Jim McLeod of the Ginger Nuts of Horror to for a look at life on the other side of the To Be Read Pile of the horror genre.
CQ: To start us off, can you tell us a bit about your site and what new readers can expect?
The Ginger Nuts of Horror is my attempt at providing a fun and informative site, where you will find interviews with some of the best writers of horror fiction, reviews of books that I love, and some general horror fiction news. With regards to the reviews, I always try to keep them positive, I generally won’t post a review of a book I did not like. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, I want the site to be a positive one that celebrates what I think is good and great in the genre. Secondly, at the very beginning of the blog, I posted a damning review of a well known author, and the author’s fans started a witch hunt against me. A few years ago I would have been up for the fight, but I’m getting too long in tooth to waste my time on these sorts of idiots.
I love doing the author interviews , I try to get under the skin of the authors, and steer away from asking too many clichéd questions. I hope the readers can get a sense of my love of the genre, and have fun, there are sites out there that take the subject far more seriously, I like to come at the genre as though I was still a wide eyed teenager, watching Night Of The Living dead for the first time
CQ: What made you start the Ginger Nuts of Horror?
GM: I think it was Willie Meikle who first suggested that I start it up. I had just had a major operation on my arm, and the amount of bone grafts they had to take from my legs, to replace all the dead bone in my arm, meant that I was kind of house bound and bored. So I started doing interviews with a few authors I knew from message boards. Never in a million years would I have imagined the site would take off in the way it has.
CQ: How long is your To Be Read pile at the moment? Is a large TBR pile exciting or daunting?
JM: At the moment I have forty books that I have agreed to review, added with my own personal TBR pile, it probably amounts to about 200 and counting. Truthfully I find it daunting, and there are days where I feel like jacking it in.
CQ: Who are your favourite authors – both lifetime friends and ‘flavour of the month’?
JM: I have loads of favourite authors, Brian Lumley, and James Herbert must rank up as my all time favourites, as these are the two authors who kicked off my love of the genre. Then we have people like Gary McMahon, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Adrian Chamberlin, John Hornor Jacobs, F Paul Wilson, William Meikle, Daniel I Russell. These authors have never failed to entertain me, the each bring something different to the table, and no matter what mood I’m in I will always find something from these guys that will keep me from being bored.
CQ: Your review policy pages voices some frustration with the variable quality of books that reach you for review. Any sub-genre a particular culprit?
JM: Zombies, zombies, zombies, from the zombie mash up with the classics, to the next big thing in horror. It appears to me that every halfwit who suddenly thinks that just because it is so easy to produce a book these days, they should. I’m sorry but not everyone has a book in them, in fact some of these so called authors should be beaten with a book.
CQ: So now you’re “being more picky”, what really grabs your attention in a query, and what earns the email a one-way trip to the deleted folder?
Politeness always wins me over, actually reading the review guidelines is always a help. Taking the time and effort to produce a decent cover; if the cover sucks, it just makes me think you don’t care enough about your own work. Interacting with me beforehand on message boards, etc will also give you a greater chance.
As for what will make me turn your book down, if the book doesn’t fit in with what I review, sorry. I have lost count of the number of paranormal romance novels I have been sent. I poorly written email is another way. If you can’t grab my attention with a cover letter, what chance do you have with your novel. Calling yourself, or letting your agent call you “the next big thing”, will automatically get you banned. I’m sorry, it’s not for you, or even me, to make that statement.
Also, get my name right when you contact me – in the last month I have been called Mark and Paul. It’s Jim, Jimmy, Jimbo or at a push James.
CQ: What was your hidden gem of 2011 – the book you hadn’t been heard of till an author/publisher asked you to review it or a friend shoved a copy under your nose?
My top book of last year was The Concrete Grove by Gary McMahon, but I was already a big fan of Gary’s writing. The hidden gem of the year was High Moor by Graeme Reynolds
. Truthfully I went into this book not expecting that much, the first novel from a self published author. High Moor turned out to the rollercoaster ride of the year, a thrilling high octane tale of werewolves. Many people knock self published authors, myself included, but High Moor shows that there are real hidden gems out there. It’s a pity books of this quality can get lost in the flood. This is the perfect example of the sort of book I like to promote on my site, trust me folks this is one hell of a fun read.
CQ: And finally, use this space to give a shout-out to one of your own favourite book blogs.
I would have to say that my favourite blog is This Is Horror
. It is run by Michael Wilson, and he has collected some of the finest writers and bloggers out there to produce a blog / website that brings the finest news, reviews and interviews for things horror. He has even managed to convince such greats as Gary McMahon, Shaun Hutson, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Jasper Bark, and Colin Leslie to write columns. If you love horror, you need to bookmark this site
Thank you again to Jim for joining us this week! Check back every Tuesday for our continued tour around the blogosphere, and if you would like to be featured on the Book Blog Spotlight, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.