An interview with Lynn Williams, book reviewer and SPFBO blogger at Lynn’s Book Blog

mystic_book_by_adalbertofsouza-d2xvmuiLynn, who has been blogging and reviewing books for years, is also one of the ten bloggers involved in Mark’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. As I haven’t posted anything about SPFBO before let me give you a short summary of what it is in case you haven’t heard of it yet.

The concept behind the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off was something Mark has come up with  and he remains its organiser for the second year in a row. The project aims to help readers find self-published novels they might like, and to help quality work get noticed amid the large number of competing books. This year 300 self-published fantasy novels are split between 10 bloggers. Each blogger will select a finalist from their alloted share, which they will all read and rate, and finally select a champion.

And now the interview with Lynn.

Art by Adalbertofsouza

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

I have a bit of a chaotic lifestyle. I’m always trying to get organised but ultimately end up with things written on tiny scraps of paper and shoved into my bag – considering I’m a PA this doesn’t bode well. Reading is my second love (family first of course) and has been a constant in my life. I have three children, well, young adults and a Lakeland Terrier called Dude who hates being left alone and is always by my side when I’m at home. I love to travel and with my husband go on quite a number of different trips each year for which I think I’m very lucky. I watch very little tv but love movies and am something of a quote geek. I love to cook – but not to bake. Wine is my tipple of choice, at the moment red. I can’t drive (which is very bad) and I do intend to learn (eventually). When I was young my nickname was ‘Dino’ don’t ask me why – I don’t think I look like a raptor although I was born in the Chinese year of the Dragon and am also a Sagittarius. Former punk, still love black and probably have a slight tendency to like the macabre a little and every now and again will indulge myself in an evening of listening to all the music I used to love (well still do – I don’t think I’ve grown up in that respect). That being said, I love to laugh – it’s just therapeutic. Hate brain freeze but love frapuccino and usually try to drink it too fast so ‘presto’! Would say I’m a cup half full type of person, I occasionally go on a rant but it’s usually short lived. Definitely low maintenance!

How did you start blogging?

I started blogging in 2011. I used to keep a book diary that I wrote a few thoughts on for each book. My husband had to reinstall something onto the computer and my file was accidentally lost. I wasn’t happy. He set up my blog as a result. I had no real idea at that point that was a whole blogoverse out there.

Were there any challenges/difficulties you came across when you started off?

I didn’t really have any problems or challenges at first because I was simply blogging for me.

What do you enjoy most about it?

The reason I enjoy blogging most is finding a number of people who enjoy the same sort of books as I do. Before I started blogging I didn’t really have anybody who I could rave or rant about books to. Blogging is the perfect release for me and on top of that its led me to some great books and authors that I would otherwise never have read.

How many books do you read a year?

On average 100 books a year. I probably used to read more pre blog because of course running a blog takes up some of your natural reading time.

Is it mostly fantasy?

I read mainly fantasy, but I’m pretty much open to persuasion and a good book is my main target. I don’t particularly enjoy romance books although I don’t mind romance being included in the book I’m reading. I just don’t want it to be the primary focus. I read some sci fi, some historical and a little thriller/horror.

How do you decide what to read next?

At the moment it depends on what commitments I’ve taken on. I don’t really like to get behind and take my commitment to review books quite seriously. Certain books though go straight to the top of the list. Those that I’m highly anticipating.

How often do you receive books for review? And are they mainly from publishers, authors or both?

Mainly publishers to be honest. I tend to use Netgalley quite often. Some publishers approach me direct. A few authors have been in touch directly but not too many Probably about 8 review books a month on average.

Which titles stood out for you this year so far?

The Wheel of Osheim. The Silver Tide by Jen Williams. City of Blades by R J Bennett. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye.

What happens if you really don’t like a book that was sent to you for a review?

If I really dislike it then I don’t finish it. Life is too short. And if I don’t finish I don’t review. Unfortunately this can give a skewed look to my blog as though I love everything! I don’t exactly like writing negative reviews but occasionally I have to do so. I do have one currently waiting to write at the moment and I’m procrastinating, a lot, about it.

How did you get involved with Mark’s SPFBO?

I saw his original tweet and thought I’d jump in and give it a go so put my name forward. It is time consuming but I really enjoy taking part. It’s such an original idea and I really look forward to both stages because they’re both so completely different.

Do you find it any way different to last year’s?

Yes. I feel like it has gathered momentum to be honest and seems to have more attention. I would say from the books I’ve read so far the quality is really good and even the book covers seem to be more professional. I can’t say whether this is as a result of last year’s competition or not but it’s certainly something of a coincidence. And on top of that there were more entries this year. It’s different for me personally because I’m trying to be more methodical in my approach. Last year I just made it up as I went along and towards the end of stage one really had to play catch up. This year I’m allocating five books per month.

Has being involved changed your views on self-published books in any way?

I think it has to a degree. I think I would be more willing to try a self published book now than prior to the SPFBO but with careful research first. After all if I request a book from a publisher I look into it before making the request to try and narrow the possibility of me not liking it so it stands to reason that I be equally as careful for self published books. There are a lot of SP books out there and I think some of them are maybe not quite ready.

IMG_0313Do you attend fantasy conventions, book signings or other literary events to meet the authors, or other readers and bloggers?

I’ve never attended a convention. I attended the Gollancz Festival last year and I’ve been to a number of author events which were interesting.

Do you have any treasured memories? Maybe meeting a favourite author?

I really enjoyed going to see Neil Gaiman. He was doing a reading and he was just so entertaining and so lovely to everyone. He stayed behind and did hundreds of signings at the end which must have taken him a couple of hours as well. I’ve also seen Sarah Pinborough a couple of times and she is a lot of fun.


by Agnes Meszaros

You can find Lynn on Twitter

and of course on her Blog!


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