Page Turners: Finding out more about the Reviewing Community
The tables have turned – this time the author’s asking the questions.
Blogs and websites have been hosting author interviews for decades, giving readers a chance to get to know their favorite writers on a more personal level. But today we’re going to flip the mold, having an author interview a book reviewer. So buckle up, grab your favorite caffeinated beverage, and prepare to dive into what makes a book reviewer tick!
Behrg: Our interview today is with Jennifer Turner, a contributor and reviewer at the amazing site HorrorDNA. So Jennifer, tell us a little about your platform. Where do you post reviews and how long have you been reviewing?
Jennifer: I’ve been reviewing exclusively for HorrorDNA when it was still HorrorTalk back in 2013. Originally I did movie reviews but eventually found book reviews to be more my niche.
Behrg: How did you originally get hooked up with HorrorTalk? Were they looking for contributors at the time? And for those who aren’t aware of HorrorDNA (shame on them), do you want to share a little about the site
Jennifer: I kept a personal blog reviewing movies and somehow my editor Steve found me and recruited me. I originally reviewed movies but I found my own voice when it came to reviewing books. HorrorDNA is a must-visit site for any horror fan with a lot of talented and funny authors.
Behrg: Absolutely agree. It’s one of my favorite sites to visit, and it’s amazing the content you’re all creating there!
Outside of reading, what are some of your favorite things to do? What’s something no one in the horror/book blogging community would suspect about you?
Jennifer: I collect vinyl records. I have over a hundred in my collection, my favorite find was Stevie Nicks’ “Bella Donna” and The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul.”
I also have a side hustle making kink themed jewelry and am teaching myself how to play the piano. I don’t want to brag but I totally mastered ”Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
Behrg: Now that deserves bragging rights! 🙂 As for the vinyl collection, what an awesome hobby!
Any favorite sub-genres under the horror umbrella? Any you don’t particularly care for? Same questions but for common tropes in the genre?
Jennifer: I love zombie films, ‘80s slashers, and anything that’s set in a small town. For example “Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King or “Ghost Story” by Peter Straub, I like the small-town horror sub-genre because you get a chance to know the townspeople and their secrets which fleshes the story out for me.
Despite being a horror nut I cannot handle anything too gory. I never finished the movie Wrong Turn and refuse to watch the sequels because the gore was too overwhelming.
Behrg: There’s something about a horror story set to a small town that makes it that much more accessible. It feels like it could happen to anyone, which is part of the allure.
Physical books or digital?
Jennifer: Digital. I commute to work which means I usually spend about three hours a day on the bus. It’s easier to throw my Kindle in my purse and when I finish what I’m reading I can jump on to the next one.
Behrg: Sounds like you’re making the most of that commute! Writing well-thought reviews takes time. What are some of the things that keep you going?
Jennifer: I always begin a review with a shot of Fireball. It’s tradition. I also have an instrumental playlist on Spotify that helps me concentrate. If I ever get writer’s block I play some casual cooking game for a few minutes which seems to help.
Behrg: I love it! If you had only one author you could read for the rest of your life, who would you choose and why? What if you had only three?
Jennifer: Stephen King would definitely be the only one. A lot of his books are favorites of mine which I have read multiple times.
If I could pick three it would be King, Philipa Gregory (I have a huge bookworm boner for anything set around The War of the Roses or the Tudor Dynasty). And third would be Robert J McCammon who I think is an interesting and prolific writer.
Behrg: Great list. What’s some advice you could give to those just starting to build a platform to review books? What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered and how have you navigated them?
Jennifer: My only real issue is getting my ADD brain to settle down and get things done. I’m easily distracted and a master procrastinator to boot. I have to set strict schedules and routines in order to stay focused.
Behrg: Interesting, I think this is something a lot of people secretly battle with though rarely admit. Do you schedule a time or certain days during the week you’ll focus on reading or writing reviews? Any rewards you allow yourself once you complete them?
Jennifer: I keep a stash of giant pickles that I save as a treat to myself for actually sticking to my guns and finishing something. They are only for post writing celebration and serve as a carrot on a stick for me.
Behrg: Love it! Favorite read of 2020 so far? Favorite read of 2019? Of all time?
Jennifer: Not to sound like a suck-up but your latest collection The Passengers that you Cannot See was awesome. All-time favorite is The Stand by Stephen King. I’ve read that once a year, every year since I was sixteen years old.
Behrg: Ah, wasn’t expecting that! Sincerely, thank you for the compliment (and hopefully no one sees that five I’ll slip you after the interview). 🙂 In all seriousness, we “met” through the HorrorTalk (at the time) website with my debut novel which you were kind enough to review, and your reviews have always been some of my favorites. It’s awesome when you find readers that “get” your style. As for The Stand, I’m not sure you could’ve picked a better one!
Do you write fiction yourself and, if so, have you published anything? If not, how has reviewing books allowed you to grow as a writer?
Jennifer: I write but I lack the ability to finish anything. I was homeless when I was twelve years old and am currently working on a memoir about what I experienced.
I consider myself a natural writer, I don’t plan anything but more or less let things flow through me.
Behrg: So definitely not a plotter! (I hear you there). I have so many questions I’d love to ask about your situation and life so you better keep going on that memoir!
There’s no right answer here, but how do you personally handle reviews for books you don’t care for? Do you finish every book you read or do you move on if a book isn’t grabbing you?
Jennifer: I can never not finish a book, I don’t ever remember not finishing one. As for reviews of books I do not like , I try to be honest but not mean. I don’t see the point of making someone feel bad just in order to make a point.
Behrg: That’s a perfect way of looking at it.
What advice would you give authors looking to have their books reviewed? What are some of the best ways authors have asked you to review their book? Some of the worst? Anything you’d like to let authors know regarding the etiquette of requesting a review?
Jennifer: Honestly I keep to the books that the site chooses for me because seeking out authors is a little out of my comfort zone. I like when authors that I review takes the time to thank me, I never expect them to so it’s always a pleasant surprise.
I don’t like when people randomly hit me up to review books without even talking to me to see if the author and I are a good fit.
Behrg: I think a lot of authors have similar anxiety about reaching out to reviewers! 🙂
As part of the horror author community, let me say a huge thank you from all of us for all that you do to support indie, hybrid, and traditionally published authors. Honest reviews not only help others discover our work, but can sometimes be the encouragement an author needs to keep doing what we do. Any last words you’d like to share with authors, fellow reviewers or casual readers?
Jennifer: Thank you. All I can say is that I love being able to read and review some great authors/books and I hope to continue doing so.
Behrg: I’m certain that feeling is mutual for all of the authors who you’ve helped to promote and review!
If you’d like to connect with Jennifer or check up on her latest book reviews, follow the links below. Be kind to each other!
A former child actor turned wanna-be rockstar, The Behrg is the author of the Internationally best-selling novel Housebroken and the thrilling Creation Series. His short work can be found in anthologies from Bloodshot Books, Comet Press, Omnium Gatherum, and Cemetery Dance. A mental health advocate, Behrg often explores the themes of mental illness within his work, albeit within a horror backdrop.
Behrg lives in Southern California with his wife and four kids where he still plays in a band, plays in fictional worlds of his own creating, and plays—quite poorly, he might add—at being an adult.
When coloring, he does not stay within the lines.
Stalk him at www.thebehrg.com
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