Monday, February 8, 2010

Blog Interview: SciFiGuy

Posted by Simcha 3:12 PM, under | 7 comments

When I first began blogging, almost eight months ago, I quickly discovered that it's impossible to navigate the scifi and fantasy blogosphere without frequently running into mention of SciFiGuy. This blog is on everyone's blogroll and the variety of interesting content that SciFiGuy offers is often picked up on other blogs as well.

And so I was eager to interview the man behind the blog, Doug Knipe, to find out more about him personally as well as to pick up some tips on what it takes to build a successful book blog.


Hi Doug. Thanks so much for taking the time from your busy schedule to do this interview. Can you please start off by telling me a little bit about your blog, SciFiGuy, and what makes it unique?

I’ve have been a SFF reader most of my life, but in 2005 I “discovered” the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres and loved the contemporary take on hidden worlds and the supernatural. So I eventually decided to blog about what I was reading. It wasn’t by design, but what I think makes the blog unique is that I’m a male reviewer blogging about a genre where the readers (and writer’s for that matter) are dominantly female.


When did you start your blog and what led you to do so?

I started the blog in summer of 2008 partially in response to a long held desire to share my passion about SFF and also due to being re-energized by my excitement over Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.

There is a lot of focus on book covers on your blog and I was wondering, as someone who until recently never paid too much attention to them, why the strong interest in book covers and what do you think makes a good book cover?

To me as a reader and book collector, books themselves have always represented an object of art in and of themselves. There is nothing finer that holding a well designed book, artwork, dust jacket, typography, illustrations etc. So cover art is very much integral to the whole package. It is after all the first impression. Artists imaginations can be the equal of the author’s and their interpretation of the story, characters or world-building can provide a lot of pleasure. I like covers to either evoke an emotional response or provide enough visual cues to allow for some pondering. On the most basic level the cover helps to identify the genre and attract a readers attention.


From the name of your blog I would assume that you would mostly be focusing on science fiction, but this does not seem to be the case. Was it your intention, when you began blogging, to build a primarily scifi blog?

I’ve been a serious reader and collector of SFF most of my life (view a Pictorial Guide to My SFF Library) and I originally intended to give significant coverage to straight SF and do UF reviews as well, but as the blog evolved I focused more on UF and PNR. I do still talk about it on the blog but it is not the main topic. Most UF and PNR readers are actually genre readers. If you were to ask the folks that come to my blog you would find they mostly all read some SFF. There is very little ghettoism. I’ve started a ‘From My Collection’ feature in my Urban Fantasy Weekend Report and am also having some guest reviewers cover SFF books I haven’t had time to read. I’m toying with the idea of a regular SciFi Sunday feature to keep my hand in.

You have so much interesting and varied content on your site, from author interviews and up-to-date book information to book reviews tidbits from other blogs, how do you manage to find the time to do all this, which I’m sure requires much research in addition to the writing itself? About how many hours a day do you put into your blog?

Well the blog is my second job/ avocation and labor of love. My evenings consist of a daily review of my Reader subscriptions of a wide assortment of blogs, writing up interview questions, prepping and responding to contests, commenting on other blogs (which I need to do more of) and actually reading books! Then there is composing reviews and lots of correspondence too. Altogether probably 3- 4 hours a day and more on weekends.


I’ve been noticing that your blog is listed on pretty much every book blog that I visit and I was wondering if you have any tips for new bloggers on how to get your blog noticed, as you have so successfully done.

Participation in the blogging community and developing good solid content are two of the key things. Blog about things that interest you and others. Visit other blogs and comment on their postings. Other commenter will follow you back to your blog to check you out. If you have something interesting to say on your blog some of them will stick around. Eventually your readership will grow. If they like what they see and they are a blogger, chances are they’ll link to you. Don’t ask for links unless you have developed a rapport with the blog owner – earn them, if you are patient, they will come.


What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t reading or blogging?

LOL. Not as much as I used to. Blogging is pretty consuming of my free time. Digital photography, genealogy research and movies pretty much fill up what time is left.

How did you first get interested in the speculative fiction genre?

I read all of the Tom Swift books when I was eight, but I think it was when I discovered science fiction via Ace Doubles (those back to back books with novella length stories) when I was eleven that launched my lifetime consuming interest in SFF.

Is there a particular subgenre that you like to read best?

Well right now it is UF/PNR but I still keep my hand in SFF with occasional ‘must-reads’.

As you mentioned earlier, it's rather unusual for a man to be blogging and writing about UF & PNR. So what is it about these books that draws you in particular?

UF and PNR delivers a similar level of creative world-building to mainstream SFF plus it has the benefit of being more character-driven which I am finding I prefer of late for leisure reading. Surprisingly I also find I really enjoy the relationship angles and the romance elements. Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Shinn and others do this very well in traditional fantasy.

What is your favorite part of running a book blog?

Definitely has to be the conversations and sense of community among the authors, readers and bloggers. Very much an extended family.

What is the biggest challenge in running a book blog?

Time. It is easy to become obsessive about blogging. There is always one more article to write, blog to visit or book to read. Finding balance is the challenge.

And the final question: If you could redesign any book cover, which one would it be and how would you change it?

Well rather than one cover it would be a series of covers. I would redesign the covers for The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. They just aren’t in keeping with the epic fantasy nature of the books. Style wise I would model them after recent covers done for the Malazan Empire books by Erikson and Esselmont.

Thanks again Doug for doing this interview. I really enjoyed getting to know you and learning more about your blog, SciFiGuy.




7 comments:

I "heart" SciFiGuy!! He is absolutely one of my favorite bloggers. I love the fact that he is one of the few males in this predominately female blogging world. He provides us with tons of great info, covers, interviews, and fun bits about the authors we love. It is so sexy when a guy loves to read, I bet he has a giant brain.

The SciFiGuy blog is part of my daily routine and I am always interested in his take on the UF/PNR genre. The weekly report is awesome- I usually form my shopping lists from that because he has everything I'm looking for in one place. And let's not forget that he has some really fantastic interviews and contests!

Thanks for the interview and insight into the man behind the blog.

Cool to see more about the guy behind SciFiGuy! It's a staple of my blogroll, too. I don't always have time to comment, but I always read his stuff. I'm glad to see Doug get more recognition for what he does for the SFF community.

-J

i've also run across the name "scifiguy" in a few blogs. and yup, it's nice to read about the man behind the blog. awesome interview :)

Simcha thanks for asking me to spend some time here at SFF Chat.

Hi Ellie thanks for the "heart". If you saw Mars Attacks - that's I was the Martian braion on the left.

Hi Anna *waves* at the force behind Bite Club

Hey Jess thanks - I appreciate it and looking forward to diving into your debut Hunted by the Others.

Chelleyreads it's OK if you run across but don't run me over :)

Great interview, Simcha! Yet another blog I must explore, thanks to you!

Great interview!

Doug, you have to be a speed reader. You get through so many books quickly and give great details of the books in your reviews. I wish I could get through that many books at a time and get through as many posts as you do as well. You have to have a great rhythm or pattern for posting.

Do you have any advice on reviewing books? A way to help capture thoughts on books and how much to add about the books? I am always looking for suggestions. Some books are just easy to review and others for some reason feel harder - though not usually that I didn't like the book.

Thank you!

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