This is something I am doing for the first time in my life: interviewing someone. Actually, I was amazed at the high content quality I found ay Kate’s blog and it would be cruel not to share the same with you. Everything from the design, the reviews, those gorgeous photos…I developed an instantly biased likeness for the blog. Thus, wanting to know a bit more about its owner, I decided to do this interview. So, let the fun begin!
Kate, first of all, welcome to my humble abode. It’s not much but I am sure you will receive a warm welcome from the readers.
– Thanks for having me!
You’re very much welcome anytime, Kate! So, why don’t we start with you telling the readers a bit about yourself and your blog?
– Hi, my name is Kate. *waves* I love to read and I have a particular fondness for mystery novels and interesting nonfiction. I guess you could say I collect knowledge. I love learning and I get ridiculously excited when I discover a book that challenges me to think about something in a new way. Parchment Girl is the place where I share my passion for great literature and big ideas through book reviews, listicles, reading guides, and more.
I see. But, the great question now, one that everyone asks and with good reason too. Why did you start blogging, especially about books? You are no doubt a passionate reader but was it initially, just to keep a track of books you’ve read or was it deeper than that?
– It was deeper than that. I felt like I was missing something in my reading life. I would finish a book and be all excited about it and want to tell EVERYONE to read it, but there wasn’t really a much of a space for me to share my enthusiasm. The book blogging community is full of people who literally can’t shut up about books. I realised as soon as I discovered it that I fit right in. My book obsession isn’t just accepted in the book blogging community, it’s celebrated. And because books are really all about ideas, book blogging has given me a platform to promote and engage with the great ideas that are presented to the world on paper.
I have been scanning your website. It’s bloody impressive. But it’s too good for me to assign words to it myself. Can you describe your blogging style to us novices? Your schedule? How do you maintain the blog and keep it running?
– Thank you! It’s taken a long time to build it up to what it is today. I think the best word to describe my blogging style is analytical. I enjoy holding ideas up to a microscope and picking them apart. I certainly write a lot of more upbeat entertainment posts (If I didn’t, I would never have any traffic!), but my reflexive style is a bit more contemplative. One blogger referred to me as the “most intellectual book blogger” she knew. Hopefully, I’m not boring my readers to tears!
My schedule and maintenance routine is something that has changed over time with lots of experimentation and mistakes along the way. Currently (and for the last year) I post three times a week, usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This seems to work pretty well for me. I work on my blog every weekday. I think the key to accomplishing everything that needs to be done for the running of a blog is to make a prioritised to-do list every day. If I need to write a blog post, that goes at the top of the list. After that comes social media (I use two scheduling platforms, which have absolutely saved my life. I would not be able to keep up without them.) and, finally, email. Technical maintenance (fixing bugs, updating plugins, etc.) is sort of squeezed in around everything else.
Which years were the most difficult and why? What did you learn from trying times?
Those tough years have, no doubt, paid off. Most of the time, it’s (blogging) about discovering your own voice and finding your passion. But as a book blogger, you already knew your niche from the beginning. Still, it is overwhelming with all the giants in the same niche as you. How did you cope with it all? What did it feel like?
– It was a bit overwhelming at first. There’s definitely a learning curve to blogging, but it wasn’t that bad. Everyone starts somewhere! I just tried to use my spare time to learn as much as I could about the technical side of blogging, building an audience, etc.
– It’s okay to worry about analytics, but it shouldn’t be your first priority. First, focus on creating amazing content. Second, promote the heck of out it on social media. Once you’ve done those two things, then you can worry about analytics and work on fine-tuning your promotion strategies. If you don’t have great content or a basic social media strategy, obsessing over your stats isn’t going to help.Would be implementing it right away! For now, let us move on to the most fun part. Books. From your blog, I found out that it was mysteries which first sparked your interest in reading. Tell me about some of your favourite books in that genre, both from your childhood and now. – My favourite mystery books from childhood are The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and everything in the Nancy Drew and Three Investigators series. I also remember being enthralled with the A to Z mystery series when I was very young.
A few years ago I walked into my local indie bookstore and told the saleswoman I would buy any book she suggested. She picked The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley and I am so glad she did! (Indie booksellers really know their stuff.) It’s the first book in the Flavia de Luce series about a precocious ten-year-old girl in mid-century England who has a habit of discovering bodies and solving murders. The Roland March series by J. Mark Bertrand is really good and has more of a crime bent to it. More recently I enjoyed The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware and The Couple Next Door by Sheri Lapena, which are more mystery/thrillers. I’m also quite fond of the Father Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton.
Now, now. You’ve given me a great many things to read! But what about classics? I mean, you gotta love them! As a book lover, they are irresistible. What are some your favourite ones?
– Jane Eyre is definitely my favourite classic. I read it when I was sixteen and it knocked my socks off. I also love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (another childhood favourite), Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. This year I read Silence by Shūsaku Endō, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, all of which are new favourites. I am often overwhelmed by the number of classics I haven’t read!
And Dracula? Oh, I loved that one. You’ve got to read it.
– I would love to meet Charlotte Brontë and pick her brain about what it was like being a forward-thinking female writer in a time when women had such restricted lives. She’s such a fascinating historical character.
Great choice, I must say. Now, as a hardcore fantasy lover, I have got to ask if you are into them as well? What are some of your favourites? Do they, any of the books, compare with us fantasy lover’s bread and butter, Lord of The Rings?
– I love fantasy, but I am far more picky about which fantasy books I read than I am with other genres. I think fantasy requires more commitment from the reader because of the world-building that’s involved. I am a hardcore LOTR and Harry Potter fan. I was a kid when The Lord of the Rings movies came out and my friends and I wore replica rings of power on chains around our necks and went to see The Return of the King twice in theatres. It was amazing. My dad read The Hobbit to me when I was small and I was hooked for life. No one can match Tolkien in the level of detail he put into the Middle-earth legendarium. The only thing that has ever come remotely close to LOTR is Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling is a genius and I would move to Hogwarts in a split second if it existed!
If given an opportunity to reside in the absolutely gorgeous and fantastic Middle-Earth, would you like to enter the Silmarillion (though I doubt that XD), The Hobbit or Lord of The Rings? Which incident, if any, would you like to alter and I must ask, who’d you pick as a partner? (Couldn’t resist it!)
– The Hobbit, definitely! As much as I love The Lord of the Rings, it’s a much darker story than The Hobbit. There’s a lot at stake for Thorin and company, but nothing like the fate of Middle-earth (at least not in the book–the movies tie the plot in to The Lord of the Rings a bit more). I know a lot of people griped about Peter Jackson’s Hobbit adaptation, but despite its flaws, I will probably end up rewatching it more than The Lord of the Rings just because it’s not quite as heavy.I have to say that Thorin, Fili, and Kili’s deaths at the end of The Hobbit absolutely slayed me. It seemed so pointless and sad. The end of the line of the House of Durin! At least when Boromir died there was a purpose to his death. It was his path to redemption. The Durin deaths just seemed so tragic and pointless.I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Faramir, so I would probably pick him as a partner.
Now, I must also ask if you are a big Game of Thrones fan as well? I, for one, loved it and am intrigued by what other’s think about it. So, what are your thoughts on the hype surrounding the series? In your opinion, is it worth it?
Well, now onto the next. Apart from reading, what do you do in your spare time?
And since your writing is also really good, I must ask if you write stories/poetry as well? Any plans for becoming a published author in near future? Should we start saving? 😉
– Lists are everything! I think most of the articles I write for my blog are listicles. I’ll give you a few of my favorite books, movies, and TV shows. The books (aside from the ones I’ve already mentioned, and I’m going to try very hard to limit myself to ten here):
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Quiet by Susan Cain
The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge, M.D.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen
Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber
The Hobbit 1-3
The Lord of the Rings 1-3
Harry Potter 1-8
Indiana Jones 1-4
The Bourne Identity (2002)
Far From the Madding Crowd (2015)
The Princess Bride (1987)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Anne of Green Gables (1985)
TV + miniseries:
Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple (the first three seasons with Geraldine McEwan)
And Then There Were None (2015)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Okay, so technically that’s three lists. Once I get going with the list making, I have a hard time stopping.
Three? Perfect. All of them are going to be added on my to- read/watch lists! And are you a music lover as well because I did see that you link music to books quite a lot. What are some of your favourite artists and musicians?
– I do love music, though I don’t keep up with it quite as much as books, movies, and TV. I love movie soundtracks. It seems like so many of the greatest composers of the twenty-first-century work in the film industry. John Powell (The Bourne Identity), Craig Armstrong (Far from the Madding Crowd), Hans Zimmer (Gladiator), Steve Jablonsky (Transformers), Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Pride and Prejudice), John Williams (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Memoirs of a Geisha), Alexandre Michel Desplat (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Howard Shore (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings), Dario Marianelli (Jane Eyre, Atonement), and Harry Gregson-Williams (The Chronicles of Narnia) are just a few of my favorites. Junkie XL is a recent discovery and new favourite. They did the soundtrack for Mad Max: Fury Road.
Adele, Lana del Rey, Imagine Dragons, Florence? I absolutely ADORE them. I must congratulate you on your epic taste in music. Plus, if you’ve not already then I must suggest you to give Brunuhville a try. He is sick. You’ll love him.
– I just went and listened to a few of his songs, and he is epic! His style is like a cross between Enya and Two Steps from Hell.
I am definitely going to listen to them too. Brunuhville’s The Realm of The Fallen King is my favourite. I must say it was fun interviewing you, Kate. I hope you enjoyed as well. I know it was a long one but I am a talker and I cannot rectify it, try as hard as I may.
– This was so much fun, Rashi! I’m so glad you’re a part of the book blogging community!
Thanks a lot, Kate and our readers.