I don’t often do reader interviews these days, but it’s great to be offering this. As an author readers are vitally important – they are our customers, our critics and our audience. Many authors are avid readers, but of course, not all readers are authors.
Words are power, they are knowledge and they are freedom. Readers play an important role in the life of books and words, for without readers books would sit unread, unloved and unknown. What makes a good book, or for that matter a bad one? Why do people read and how do they find their books?
Welcome to Victoria Zigler (or Tori, if you prefer).
Where are you from? I’m originally from South-West Wales, UK, and was born and raised in the shadow of the Black Mountains… Well, other than a short time in my teens when I lived on the South-East coast of England, and again later in my teens when I lived in Canada for six months. But these days I live on the South-East coast of England, UK… Yes, the same part of it where I lived in my teens.
Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m a bookaholic. Seriously! I’ve loved to read since I learned how, and been writing almost as long. If I’m not either reading or writing, chances are I’m either spending time with my hubby and pets, dabbling in one of the other activities that sometimes manage to capture my attention for a while, such as watching movies, listening to music, playing roleplaying games (like Dungeons & Dragons, and that kind of thing) or doing crafts. Either that or it’s because I’m sorting emails, putting in an appearance on social media sites, pretending to work while really playing Scrabble or Solitaire on my computer, or it’s because I still haven’t managed to get a house elf and am therefore forced to worry about things like housework and household errands.
Oh, yeah, I’m also completely blind, having lost my sight to Congenital Glaucoma.
On average how many books do you read in a month? Judging by the 317 book total for 2016, I read on average something like 26 books a month. Of course, that varies, since some years I read more than the 317, other years I read less. Basically, it depends on how long the books I’m reading at the time are, and what else is going on in my life that may cut in to my reading time.
Where is your favourite place to read? I’ll happily read anywhere, but most of my reading is done in my bedroom, which is where my stereo is, and where my Kindle spends most of its time.
What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid? My favourite genre is fantasy, because anything can happen in it, and I enjoy the experience of being carried off to magical lands. I’ll read almost anything though, regardless of genre or age range. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s a children’s book or an adult book, or if it’s a fairy tale or a historical romance. As long as it’s not Christian fiction, chances are I’ll give it a go. I tend to be more concerned with whether the story appeals to me, rather than what genre it falls under. Like I said though, the exception is Christian fiction. That’s the only genre I completely steer away from.
Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life? Reading offers me an escape from reality when I don’t want to face it. It also allows me to see the world in a way I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. Not to mention, reading is one of the few areas where I’m not at a disadvantage from others due to my lack of sight; reading is one of the few activities where being blind doesn’t change the amount of information I absorb from the experience compared to a sighted person.
Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much? To be honest, I have several favourite authors and books, and we’d be here all day if I listed them all in this interview. Besides, my favourites depend on my mood to some extent. Although, having said that, I fell in love with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “A Little Princess” when I first read it as a child of maybe ten or so, and have adored the book ever since. I don’t know what it is about the book, but it’s always my go to book when someone says I absolutely have to pick a favourite.
What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? Most of my books are eBooks, because they’re cheaper than audiobooks, and easier to get hold of and store than Braille books. Of course, with my lack of sight, reading a physical book is only possible if it’s in Braille, otherwise I’d be perfectly happy to read my books in any format. I literally only stopped reading paperback and hardback books when I couldn’t see to do so any more.
How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know? Mostly it’s either from following authors I already know and love, or getting recommendations from friends or family members. Other times it’s from someone randomly buying me a book they think I’ll like, from seeing a movie and learning it’s based on a book, or from being bored and typing random keywords into the search box of online bookstores or Goodreads.
When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look? What makes you turn away? It’s usually the title that I pay attention to first. Sighted people may judge a book based on the cover, I do so based on a title. If the title gets my attention, I’ll check out the book blurb. If the blurb makes it sound like something I might enjoy reading, I’ll give it a go. At least, I will as long as the blurb isn’t filled with typos and things; I’m always reluctant to read a book if the author can’t even make sure there are no editing issues in their blurb.
Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice? I pay attention to reviews of family and friends on Goodreads, because I like to know what my family and friends have been reading. When it comes to choosing a book to read though, I only sometimes glance through reviews, especially if they’re by people I know, but only usually if the book has already captured my attention, and I’m already thinking of reading it anyway. Bad reviews don’t generally stop me buying a book, unless the bad reviews are because of poor editing, in which case I’ll think twice about reading something, and be reluctant to do so.
What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off? All those things are important, and it depends on the book in question to which matters most to me when I’m reading it. Things that turn me off though are poorly edited books, and excessive use of curse words in inappropriate situations. When it comes to the editing, I can let some mistakes slip by, since I do appreciate that even the best editors can miss things, but when there’s a mistake every other word – or it feels like there is – it stops me enjoying the book. When it comes to the curse words, it’s not that I’m prudish or anything, it’s just that some people seem to use curse words excessively, in situations where people wouldn’t normally swear, or just to save themselves the trouble of thinking of better replacement words. There are also times when it feels like the curse words were only added to make up the word count. While I can accept the use of curse words in some books… Especially during steamy scenes in books of an adult nature… Excessive and inappropriate use of them seriously irritates me, and the use of them at all in books aimed at middle grade readers or younger is entirely unacceptable to me.
If you are a reviewer why do you review? I write reviews to help other readers decide if an author’s book is worth reading, and to help out other authors looking for some attention for their books. I admit some of my reviews are vague, and most of them are really short, but at least I do them.
If you’re wondering, I post my reviews on Goodreads, as well as in a monthly review round-up post I do on my blog, and sometimes post reviews on Smashwords too (the latter only being if I got the book via Smashwords, of course). I’ve also done reviews on Amazon and Audible on request.
What factors are important in a review? This is a tough one. If I enjoyed a book enough that I gave it the full five stars, I feel just a few words saying how awesome it was is enough (though I’ll expand on that if I’m dealing with a review request, or feel there’s something I want to specifically compliment). If I gave it less, I feel it’s important to explain what stopped me giving it the full five stars. Beyond that, I think it varies from book to book. Although, it is often helpful to say something about the quality of the writing and world building, and the believability of the characters, I think.
Do you think it is appropriate to discuss author behaviour in a review? No. Reviews are about the books, not the author’s behaviour.
What are your views on paid for reviews? I don’t agree with them. By all means give someone a free copy in exchange for an honest review, but I don’t think you should pay them to review your book. I’ve never been paid for a review, and never expected to be. I mean, I’ve been given free copies of books in exchange for reviews, and there are a couple of authors who regularly send me advanced review copies of their books because they know I’ll want to read their books anyway, and have learned that sending me copies in exchange for my review will get their books bumped to the top of my to-read pile. But, as I said, I’ve never been paid for a review. I’d also like to stress that any review I write in exchange for a free book is an honest one, based on my own personal opinion, and nothing else.
Some readers believe all 4 and 5-star reviews on a book must be fake. What are your thoughts on this? Some people just like to find a reason to criticize others, and whether or not some books have all four and five-star reviews that are genuine or fake is just another example of this. Sure, it’s possible that some of those reviews might be fake. But for the most part I don’t think they are, and don’t think it’s fair to assume they are. For the most part those books are just examples of authors who did a great job in producing a book worthy of high praise. If people can’t see that, then they’re obviously blinder than I am. Either that, or they’re the kinds of people who only feel pleasure when saying or doing things to hurt others, in which case I feel sorry for them, because it must be a lonely existence only feeling pleasure when causing others pain.
Personal Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/tori.zigler
Facebook author page: