Monday, 18 July 2011

My Guest This Week: Amanda Rutter from Floor to Ceiling Books!

This week my guest is an avid book lover and book reviewer who is well respected by both publishers and authors, please come on down and meet the lovely Amanda Rutter from Floor to Ceiling Books.

"Thanks so much for inviting me to stop by your website and be your guest, Pauline! As you suggested, I thought it would be a great idea to talk about why I read, what genres I cover, why I now review the books I read and why I finally chose to take the plunge into reading and reviewing self-published fiction.

I read to escape. I’m sure many other people would say exactly the same! When I open the pages of a novel, I am allowed into another world. I meet new characters that I come to love or hate. I visit strange countries. In my day job I am an accountant, and, at times, I find it serious, dull and formulaic (not all the time, I hasten to add!) Consequently, reading is of great value to me. There is nothing better at the end of a long day than cosying up on the couch with my two cats and opening a book. It’s magical!

I was a lucky young reader. Both my parents read a lot when I was younger – my mum loves Wilbur Smith, while my dad is an aficionado of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. They encouraged me to read, by sharing stories with me (an early memory is of sitting on my dad’s lap as he read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and buying me books. As I got older, they delighted in taking me to car boot sales where I would rummage for gems – that was how I came upon the whole Belgariad series by David Eddings for less than three pounds!

As to why I started reviewing... Well, when you read as much as I, every now and again (and more often as I get older and the grey matter starts failing a little!) you start reading a book and end up finding it more than a little familiar. Eventually you realise that you’ve read this book before. So part of my intention was to catalogue all the books I read, highlighting the details, so that I would have a permanent record of everything I’ve tried. This is why I am one of those reviewers who will review everything they read, whether a positive or negative experience. When I do have negative experiences, I try to be constructive and give reasons for why I didn’t enjoy the book, rather than just saying it was awful and leaving it at that... Another reason for starting to review publically was to share my love of reading and books. There is nothing better than having a love fest with someone else for a book you both adored! Or, in fact, having a discussion with someone who didn’t hold the same views as you and exploring why that might be.

Book reviewing has become a massive part of my life. My blog is something I spend at least two or three hours a day on, whether answering emails, connecting with others on Twitter and their blogs, reading other reviews – and, of course, reading books. I can’t imagine a time now where I won’t be lovingly cultivating Floor to Ceiling Books, and trying to make it a place where people feel welcomed to discuss all things bookish.

In order to be all-inclusive – and because I have a genuine love for ALL books – I decided very early on that my blog simply couldn’t be contained within one genre. Sure, my first love is probably fantasy and science fiction, but I adore a good chick lit novel. I read a little horror, some crime, thrillers, family sagas, historical novels. I’ve read so much, from Tolkien to Marian Keyes, visiting a little Stieg Larrson, Bram Stoker and Stephenie Meyer in between. I don’t look down on any authors or genres, and I’m willing to give anything a try!

That is one of the reasons why I decided to start accepting self-published work. The other major reason for this is thanks to Angry Robot Books. In a stunning opportunity for me, I was invited to be one of the “slushpile” readers for their Open Door Month, where they invited non-agented authors of speculative fiction to send in manuscripts. (By the way, I do hate the term slushpile, having now been involved with one – I use it because it’s the recognised word for what I tackled). While reading through almost 500 partial manuscripts, I realised that there are a LOT of exceptionally talented authors out there. And they simply won’t all get published through traditional means, thanks to sales budgets and yearly slots and all the other things that restrict publishers to only accepting a limited number of manuscripts each year. For me, this is why self-publishing is now just exploding. Thanks to the Kindle and Amazon, it is easier than ever to get your novel out there. Do I think *everyone* should be publishing? Definitely not – some self-published works are still questionable at best! However, it is an outlet for those people with talent who are willing to put in the work, use beta readers and exploit the fact that most people now have some form of eReader.

One of the easiest and best ways of supporting these intrepid authors who decide to take their fates into their own hands is to give them a try. You might read a few pages and decide that your 99p was a bust. You might end up reading something marvellous, and recommending it to all your friends. Hence, I now welcome self-published works to Floor to Ceiling Books. After having such a fun time with Sometimes it Happens... I realise that I made the right decision – I might well stumble over more great novels *grin*

Well! I think I’ve chattered on long enough about reading and reviewing – I hope you can tell it is something I’m deeply passionate about. I look forward to seeing a few of you over on my site – you’re always welcome. And thanks once again to Pauline for this opportunity.

For more about Amanda and her book reviewing, please stop by at Floor to Ceiling Books


Chris Longmuir said...

This post struck a lot of chords with me as an avid reader. It was also informative to the me who is a writer. Excellent post, Pauline.

MaureenAMiller said...

What a lovely interview, and thank you Amanda for your positive spirit!

Pauline Barclay said...

Hi Chris, Amanda is an amazing reader and her Blogs are well written. Thanks for stopping by.

Hello Maureen, Amanda is a very positive person and her Blogs reflect her love of reading. I am so pleased she came to sit around my pool!

Debs Carr said...

Thanks for the interesting and informative interview. There are so many excellent books out there including Sometimes It Happens.

Magemanda said...

Thank you for the lovely comments - it was great being given the chance to speak about all things books!

Flowerpot said...

Great post Pauline - really enjoyed that.

Pauline Barclay said...

Hello Flowerpot, it is great to meet and talk to lovely people like Amanda who share our love of reading. Thanks for calling by! :)