Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Lady of Literature – an interview with Stephanie Moore


Stephanie Moore is a lady with a passion.  As one of the most hard-working and accommodating reviewers in the world of Historical Fiction, she promotes and showcases some of the most up to date and exciting releases on her blog Layered Pages.  Anyone who follows her on any of her social media platforms will be fully aware of her voracious appetite for reading.  According to her Goodreads stats, so far this year she has read 43 books, totaling 13,881 pages!  She very kindly put her latest tome on the bedside table and spent some time answering some questions.

Stephanie, thank you so much for your time and welcome to the Court of Sir Read-A-Lot, can you tell me what inspired you to begin blogging about Historical Fiction?
Several friends had started to blog about books they enjoyed reading and reviewed and it sparked my interest. I always wanted to find a better way of sharing my love of reading to the world and creating my blog, Layered Pages, was a great way to do so. Plus, I find it an excellent way to journal my thoughts of books I’ve read and to talk with authors I like.

Your blog is extremely informative and showcases not only the novels, but also their authors.  How do you decide which books to review and who to interview?
Thank you Stuart! I’m really pleased with the layout of my blog and how it has evolved. I choose books to review that I’m interested in reading or curious about. Recently, I’ve been consciously choosing books from authors who self-publish. Frequently I’m asked by authors to review their books. For example, Michele Kallio, Elisabeth Storrs and Donna Russo Morin have approached me and asked to review their books.

What is the best thing about blogging on the subject of Historical Fiction?
I love the fact I can really explore history and visualize how the stories could have happened in real life. The great thing about blogging is that I’m free to write my opinions which can influence what my followers read. I take that responsibility very seriously. I do not write what I think people wish to read about a particular book,
One thing I will always do is give an honest assessment and I refuse to hide behind the anonymity of a computer screen!  So yes, it is a big responsibility, but one I feel I can handle and do well.  For example, today I have published my Layered Pages Summer 2012 Recommended Reads, which contains 14 (10 Historical, 4 Contemporary) of the 43 books I have read so far this year!  These are stories that I feel my readers would enjoy whether they will be going to holiday, or sitting in the garden, or lounging by a pool. 



You are a reviewer for the American Chapter of the Historical Novel Society, has being a part of this changed the way you review books? Has it made you more selective?
Yes, being involved with the HNS has really changed the way I review. It has taught me to be more selective in choosing which books are good enough to be reviewed. I was originally extended an invitation to join by Helen Hollick, the Editor of the UK Review Team.  To know that my opinions were valued by people involved with the HNS was a huge confidence boost but as I am in the US it was not possible for me to join her. 
However, she passed my details onto Andrea Connell, the Editor for the US team.  Andrea has been instrumental in teaching me the techniques of writing reviews.  She has also helped me use words more effectively, making my reviews more concise.  I consider it a privilege to write reviews for the HNS and I know my work will continue to grow through this wonderful experience.

What are the main things you look for when reviewing a book you are considering to review.
I pretty much adhere to the standards laid down by the HNS has when reviewing a book. The things I consider include assessments on the characters, the plot, the author’s writing style and, in the case of self-published or independently published works, if a sufficiently adequate copy-edit has been carried out.  Examples of the questions I ask are; is the character interesting?  Do they fulfill their purpose?  Are they believable?  Is the story creative and interesting?  How does the story flow?  Does the story end properly?   I look at the mechanics of writing as well; the dialogue, the descriptive language and, very importantly in the realm of HF, is the story is true to its time and place?  I look at the overall professional layout and the cover design. I think examining the work in this detail, is what makes a good, fair and consistent reviewer.

How does reviewing a book differ from reading for pleasure?

That is a tough question!   For the most part, I have really enjoyed reading the books I have reviewed. But, if I am reading for a review I use the techniques and assessment criteria I spoke about in my last question and try to remain slightly more detached.  When I’m reading for pleasure, I just sit back and relax and enjoy the story!

Bloggers, like you, are playing an important role in promoting works of Historical Fiction. How do you see the future of blogs? Do you see them acting as a quality control mechanism that can influence the quality of books being written, in this increasing age of immediate publication?
I see wonderful things in the future for book blogs. I do see them as a sort-of quality control, especially for books that are poorly written. I think that both amateur and professional reviewers will play an increasingly prominent role in weeding out the sub-standard works that do nothing to enhance the reputation of the genre;  of any genre, in fact.  In order for this to be successful, book bloggers and reviewers need to be very selective and choose only quality books to review and promote.  
I must add, I’m very concerned about this age of immediate publication for many reasons. I believe this has lowered the standards of writing and story-telling and will continue to do so unless some form of quality control is in place. As a book reviewer and an avid reader, I feel that I have a responsibility to ensure the standards for independent publishing remains on a par with their mainstream counterparts.  If not, what does this say to our readers? It could lower the reading ability of future generations, maybe even turn people off from reading altogether!  There has to be a line in the sand, because if things continue the way they are going, there will be a glut in the market of mediocre, inferior books.

Fun question- which three characters, real or fictional, would you have as dinner quests?

Thomas Jefferson. Eleanor of Aquitaine and Blanche de Castille of France.

Fun question-If you could be a fly on the wall at a specific event in history, which one would it be?
Gosh, there are several but if I must choose one it would be The Battle of Hastings. There are so many unanswered questions I have about that event in history and what really happen.

Bio:
Stephanie is an avid reader of Historical Fiction and a book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society and IndieBRAG LLC. She is also, Co-Founder of the Goodreads  book club, “Ladies & Literature”, which has over 1,300 members globally.

Co-Founder of Ladies & Literature: www.goodreads.com
Book Reviewer for Historical Novel Society (on-line): http://historicalnovelsociety.org/
Book Reviewer for IndieBrag LLC: http://www.bragmedallion.com/
Contact Stephanie: layeredpages@yahoo.com

7 comments:

  1. Wonderful interview with a fabulous woman. Stephanie is every author's dream reviewer. She is honest, and precise. Her comments show a thorough understanding of what good literature is and is not. I couldn't agree more with her statement that there must be some sort of qualtiy control for self-published books. Thank you so much for featuring this very talented lady on your blog.

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  2. Thank you Michele! Your opinion means so much to me!

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  3. Stephanie, I LOVE how you , the interviewer, is now interviewed!!! You are onto great things, what a blessing to be doing what you love!!

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  4. Lovely informative interview - thanks for sharing & welcome to the HNS Review Team Steph!

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  5. Love hearing anything about Stephanie! She is a reader for us at indieBRAG- If she says a book is goo, it is. I am just not sure where she gets all the energy to read, write and go to swim meets!
    Geri

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  6. http://literaturerat.blogspot.co.uk/

    Similar design and a similar topic. Great minds.

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