Blogger Interview: James from Book Chic!

One of the first blogs I started regularly reading was Book Chic. James's reviews were insightful, well-written, and he was one of the nicest bloggers out there. He has a reputation for helping out newbies and being really supportive, and I wanted to interview him. I hunted for ages for his email address and finally found it in the most obvious place - his About Me page. I felt like an idiot, but I simply had to email him right away. He replied back quickly, and I was nervous to see what he had to say.He had a lot of books to review, so I was astounded that he said yes. People don't usually realize how little time bloggers have left over from reading, work, writing reviews, and more. His kindness was overwhelming! He's also really modest, which makes him one of the bloggers that I respect the most. I finally came up with some questions that I wanted to ask him, agonized over phrasing them right, and he responded back quickly. I could tell that he put a lot of thought into every answer.

This is James.

Here's what he had to say:

Me: How did you first get into blogging?I started blogging because I was helping Lauren Barnholdt promote her then-new release Two-Way Street. In coming up with interview questions, I found that I really enjoyed it and wanted to continue doing it. So I spent a few weeks planning my blog and then opened a Myspace account that I could blog at. I knew nothing of Blogger or Wordpress or whatever. Myspace was a good starting point because I could add friends and spread the word of my blog that way.Me: What was the first book that you ever receive for review and how did you react?                                                                             I honestly can't remember- it was either a package from Meg Cabot or Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer. The package from Meg was huge and a shock to receive in my first weeks of blogging. It contained her 3 new titles from summer 2007, a ton of swag, and a short little hand-written note. Meg does not kid around with her packages. Receiving Cindy Ella too was fantastic because it was my first real ARC, coming out in Feb 2008 and I had it 7 months in advance. I was a newbie blogger and had no idea about ARCs, so receiving one and also a package from my writing idol, I was just dumbfounded and so grateful. I still am grateful for every review copy I receive, even if it's something I end up donating to the library.Me: How did you come up with your blog name?Well, the book part is easy. But when I was trying to come up with names, I wanted something classy to go along with the word Book. I thought of fashion chic and decided to pick that word "chic" and put them together. Voila- Book Chic was born. That was actually what took me the longest before setting up the blog- I needed a name and spent a lot of time thinking of one. I'm really happy with it.Me: Mailman - best friend or worst enemy?Neither really! I don't have much interaction with my mailman or even the UPS or Fedex people, so no real opinion either way. But as long as they keep putting the books in my mailbox or on my doorstep, I'm happy with them, lol.Me: What's the one book that you think has influenced or changed you the most?I've never really thought about it because I don't really think about those kinds of things but I'd probably say The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot because it just opened me up to the entire YA world, which I had never known about before then. It's such a wonderful genre that I identify with and I love everything about it. I'm glad that YA was brought into my world.Me: Are you only a reader or are you a writer as well?I am a writer too! A really bad one though because I suck at getting my butt in the chair to actually write. I was better when I was taking creative writing classes in college because I had deadlines. It's hard for me to kind of impose a deadline on myself. But I really hope to change that, write more, and finish some books. My ultimate goal is to write some great gay teen romances because I really think they are sorely needed.Me: What do you think the blogger/publisher or blogger/author relationship should be like?I think it has to be mutually respectful. Each side needs to respect what the other side provides and keep things on an equal footing. Even if you feel like you're not a professional, you still need to make sure your interactions with authors and publishers are professional. That doesn't necessarily mean being uptight or clinical, but it just means to mind your manners. Use your Please and Thank You. Doing this, I think, helps so much with the blogging community being taken seriously. It's something we really need.Me: Which one of your cats did you get first? I love your pictures of them!

Meeko on top of a cabinet...aww

Aw thanks! Maya was the first, then Samson, and then they accidentally mated and had five babies. We gave away three, but two came back to us after a few months, so now we have four of the five babies. Maya was my roommate's sister's cat and she ended up not being able to take care of it so we took her in. Both Maya and Samson were strays which I'm really happy about because I hate the idea of them (and other cats) being on the streets.Me: What is your favorite and least favorite part of blogging?

James, Kristi, and several other bloggers :)

Aside from the review copies, which are a huge perk, my favorite part of blogging is the whole community really. I love all the friends I've made through blogging and all my followers. It makes me happy and makes blogging so much fun. My least favorite part of blogging is actually the reviewing, lol! I mean, I do still enjoy it because otherwise I would stop doing it, but sometimes it's hard to sit down and have to write down my thoughts about a book that go beyond "This book is AMAZING!" or "This book is just okay.". It'd be so much easier to just do one-sentence reviews like that than write several paragraphs.Me: Any advice to new bloggers?Don't compare yourself to other bloggers because that will only end badly. Focus on making your blog the best it can be. Leave substantial comments on other blogs; if you have something interesting to say about a particular post, I'm usually intrigued enough to click through to your blog and check it out. Follow people on Twitter and do the same thing- if you have something to add to a discussion, say it. Spread the word of your blog. Try and post consistently and it doesn't always have to be bookish (look at my Cat Friday). Finally, don't worry too much about it; everything will come in its own time.Me: Has your reading style changed since you started Book Chic?

Yes, definitely. When I started my blog, I pretty much only read romantic comedies- Meg Cabot and similar authors. I didn't even want to read Sarah Dessen because I heard her books were sad. I wanted happy things. Well, the funny thing is, I got a bit ARC happy in the beginning and started requesting a couple review copies that were way outside romantic comedy, all so I could say "Look what I got!" At least kind of. I actually asked for an ARC of Glass by Ellen Hopkins without having read anything of hers, though vowing to read Crank after requesting. So, I wasn't just going to set the ARC aside after showing it off to everyone because of the good person I am. I tried to be a bad blogger and failed miserably, lol. Now though, Ellen is one of my favorite authors, both her books and herself; she is so sweet. Same thing with Sarah Dessen. My reading world has opened up so much over the past few years of blogging and I just love it.Me: How do you feel about bloggers feeling "entitled" to get books for review?I don't like it, and I hope that's the same for everyone. No one is entitled to anything and even if they were, it's a two-way street. If bloggers are entitled to review copies, then the publishers are entitled to a glowing review of every review copy they send you. And that's just not gonna happen. I am grateful for every review copy I receive, even if it's something I don't want, because it shows the publishers like me and like what I do for them. But I could do without them; it would suck immensely but I could still run the blog without them. I've got a library and some bookstores nearby- I can get books that way and review them. Publishers and authors don't have to send bloggers books, and that's why I feel grateful when they do. I mean, I'm just a regular adult who loves to read books; nothing special. Why should I feel entitled to a book? They can easily stop sending ARCs to me and start sending mine to some other regular adult who loves to read and has a good attitude about receiving books. Being entitled will get you nowhere; being grateful and humble does.Pictures were added by Grace.This is Grace again. James is so nice, and I loved interviewing him. I'll definitely read his blog even more now and I won't be as shy talking to him! Yay! I'm definitely going to BEA next year for the first time and I'm hoping I run into him...I hope y'all enjoyed the interview! Now go check out Book Chic. :)