Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Interview with Ryan from Wordsmithonia

Posted by Simcha 7:54 AM, under | 11 comments

I have been wanting to interview Ryan for ages because I could tell that this guy has some interesting stories to tell, and I was certainly right. I had to practice great restraint to limit my questions to the few below and not the pages of questions (and follow-up questions) that I wanted to pepper him with. 

Aside for his really interesting personal life Ryan is also a fantastic book reviewer. I've added many books to my reading list based one one of Ryan's reviews, books that I probably would have never otherwise tried. And I particularly enjoy his weekly Favorite Fictional Character posts which often bring back great memories of TV and book characters from my childhood.

So give it up for Ryan...

Ryan from Wordsmithonia

Welcome Ryan!

If you wrote a book what would the blurb on the inside cover say about you?

Ryan Groff is a former carnie kid now living in Wichita, KS.  Originally from the north shore of Lake Superior he has found himself stuck in the Midwest for years now.  An avid tea drinker, Scrabble player, and Eeyore fan, Ryan is now working on his second novel, The Tower Waif.

How did you come to start a book blog?

I never knew book blogs existed until a friend of mine, Deb of Book Magic, on the Barnes & Noble book club forums started one of her own.  I saw how much fun she was having and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I had been denying myself for so long.  I started it in July of 2009 and I haven't looked back since.

Has being a book reviewer changed the way that you approach reading?

I don't think so other than the fact I'm now reading way more than I used to.  I've always been an avid reader but I would take time out between books and I may have even gone a week in between starting a new one.  Now it seems I'm always reading, even when watching TV.  I read when I eat or even while riding as a passenger in a car.  When I'm not reading, I'm blogging, sleeping, or working.  If I could figure out how to take a shower while reading I would.

Book bloggers often find that reviewing books encourages them to read books outside of their regular reading comfort zone. Is there a particular book that you would never have otherwise tried if you weren't a book reviewer, but you ended up loving?

I've always been an eclectic reader so if a book sounded good, I would read it.  Now I've normally gravitated towards mysteries or fantasy books, but I would even find myself reading the occasional Danielle Steele.  The biggest change has been reading more non fiction.  I've never been against it, but I have a greater opportunity now to read books about subjects I find interesting.  The one that immediately comes to mind is In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White.  It was a fascinating look at the last leper colong in the United States that doubled as a prison.

Are there any particular topics or causes that you have discovered a passion for since becoming a book blogger which you might not have thought that much about before? (ex. cover whitewashing, book banning)

This my make me sound shallow but honestly, no. I've always been aware of the issues, but haven't given them much thought then or now.  I think book banning is horrendous and I don't think there is ever a justification for it.  I think if it ever came up as an issue in my community I would be a vocal critic.  I just don't think blogging has really changed or formed my opinion on it.

What's the last book that you read that blew you away?

If you would have asked me this question lat year, it would have been easier to answer.  I read a lot of good books, but not a ton that just blew me out of the water.  This year it's a little different though.  For some reason I don't think I've read many books that didn't impress me.  I recently discovered a golden age mystery writer, Mary Roberts Rinehart, that has blown me away with every book I've read of hers.  If I had to pick a single book though, my favorite of the year so far, it would be Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.

If you met someone who was only going to read one book this year which book would you recommend to them?

Gosh, I guess it would depend on what there favorite genre is.  The two (sorry) that immediately come to mind are Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

Okay, now this is a question that I've been dying to ask you about ever since I saw you mention the subject on your blog once. You said that you moved a lot as a child because you traveled with a circus. Can you tell me more about that, if you don't mind? 

I don't mind at all.  Actually it's always fun reliving some of those memories.

 After my mom finally left my dad, we moved around a lot just so she could get away from everything.  By the time I was in 5th grade we had lived in Minnesota (where I was born), moved to and away form Oregon a few times, moved to Spokane, WA, and finally to Fontana, California.  We moved back to Two Harbors, MN before 5th grade and that next summer we went to visit my great-grandmother in Cass Lake.  While there we went to a fair (so it was a carnival not a circus) and my mom met a guy.

For the next four years (this is the short version) we moved around all the time.  Every time the show moved on (every two weeks) we moved with them.  If it was during the school year that was the town I went to school in.  Needless to say my middle school transcripts are really long.  I went to school in about 12 other states plus spent summers in about 10 others.  It was a great time for me.  I got to see a lot of the country that I probably wouldn't have any other way.  I was exposed to about every type of person imaginable.  It was an eye opening experience.  It's not one I would suggest for most kids, but for me it worked.

By the way I hate the circus.  I'm absolutely scared of clowns and never want to be in the same room as them.  Horrible little creatures.

What’s the most interesting thing that has ever happened to you?   

Other than traveling with a carnival for 4 years?  I would have to say living with a biker gang when we lived in Washington state the first time.  A few other tidbits about me are that I saw The Jets in concert about 7 times as a kid and I was on the academic team in high school.  My senior year we won area, regionals, and place 2nd at state.

(see, I told you this guys has some great stories to tell.)

Favorite snack while reading? 
Popcorn.  It's my favorite snack for all purposes.

Favorite word?  

Defenestration - the act of throwing someone or something out a widow.

Favorite quote?

Two of them actually.  "I'm half sick of shadows" from the poem "The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death" from the movie "Auntie, Mame"

Favorite childhood memory?

I have so many of them.  The ones I really cherish tend to involve playing games with my mom and brother.  I also remember taking a field trip in headstart and while we were out on the wilderness trail I picked flowers for my mom.  By the time I got home though they had started to wilt and I remember crying about it because I didn't think my mom would like them still.  She loved them and held me until I stopped crying.

Favorite comfort read?

I have so many books that I go back to but I think two of them would be Watership Down by Richard Adams and The Thief of Always by Clive Barker.

If your life were a book what would the title be?  

Carnie Kid would be the obvious title, but I think I could come up with a few more if needed.

If you could spend the day with any book character who would you choose and why? 

That's another really hard question.  There are so many great characters, but I would have to go with Vanyel Ashkevron.  He is the star of The Last Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and a character that helped me deal with being gay. He is a character I admire and the fact that he's hot doesn't hurt.

Thanks so much Ryan!

And make sure to visit here tomorrow for my interview with Blodeuedd from Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell


Congratulations on your two years! I can't wait to see what happens in the next 2, 4, 8, and 10 years!

I loved answering the questions and anytime you want to grill me some more, you are more than welcome to.

Oh, I love this interview! I never knew that you were a carnie, Ryan! OR that you lived with a biker gang. I envision a middle grade book in your future where the hero is a kid of the carnival.

"If I could figure out how to take a shower while reading I would." - Love it! Maybe when they come out with the waterproof Kindle?

You travelled with a circus? Very cool :=) And different for sure.

And I like your fav quote. That is a fav poem of mine too

My friend, Ryan...what a wonderful person! As Deb helped him to start his blog, so did Ryan get me started in book blogging. I'm forever in his debt! I learned stuff about you today that I didn't know. And I understand the clown thing. I hate them too! Ryan is an excellent blogger. I really trust and respect his reviews. And he's an even better friend. Hey anyone who loves Christmas (almost) as much as I do will always be my kind of person. Great interview!

Ryan: Thanks, and I'll just say I'm impressed with myself that I've managed to keep it up for two years. Ten years might be pushing it ;)

And I'll be sure to take you up on that offer to follow up with more questions, though I'll wait until after your vacation when you've had a chance to recover from this interview.

Stephanie: What an awesome idea, a waterproof Kindle! I want one of those. Though my water bill would probably go up due to all the long showers ;)

Oh Ryan! Great interview. Simcha, he really does have great stories to tell and has seen so much at so young. ;)

And I still have to get to reading Pandemonium. *ducks*


Great job both of ya! :)

Stephanie - When I write the book, you will be one of the first to get a copy.

Blodeuedd - I have been in love with that poem from the first time I read it in high school. I even started listening to Lorenna Mckennitt becuase she sings the poem.

Michelle - I'm blushing now and I love you too.

Simcha - Anytime you want to ask, I'll answer :-)

Melissa - How after me and Paul raved about that book so much have you managed not to read it still. Get on it! :-)

Fantastic interview!!!!!!!!!!!! How in the world did I ever miss that you were in the carnie world???? I think it says something of your character that even though you were constantly moving, your academics were stellar!!! More...I want more!!

Ryan, what a wonderful interview! I've learned a bit more about you sir!

Great interview! Ryan, I never knew that you lived with a biker gang. What an awesome adventure that must have been! Always knew you had led an interesting life, but didn't realize how interesting!

Pssssst, Melissa - I haven't read Pandemonium yet either! *L*

Staci - To tell you another secret about me, as far as grades go. In 5th grade I tested as a senior level reading level. I guess it's a good think I love to read as much as I do.

Michelle - Thank you! It was a lot of fun to ansers Simcha's questions.

Terri - That's me, a biker carnie kid. My childhood was just odd, fun, but odd. Just like I told Melissa, you guys have to read that book. If you don't belive me, ask Stephanie, she loved it too.

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