John's Preamble: Thanks to Carolyn Riedel, who blogs at RIEDEL FASCINATION, for stepping up to be this month's Canadian Book Challenge participant profile. Carolyn wrote her own intro, so I don't have much to add in the preamble, except that it took me— much to Carolyn's chagrin, I'm sure— months to finally spell her last name right. (I can't promise I won't mix up the I and E ever again, but I can be forgiven for a tpyo here and there, right?) Carolyn, for the sake of brevity, also opted to edit her response down to 7 answers instead of 10.
Also, a happy birthday in advance (the 18th, I believe?)
1. Why isn’t your residence where you grew up?
“Fluffy’s Law”, preventing apartments from excluding pets, didn’t pass in Manitoba. My fiancé, two cats, and I suddenly needed our first house. Where better than a forest? It is more populated than I care for but for a first property, what a blessing. We are vegetarians thrilled to be among critters, flowers, and trees.
2. “Reviews should be left to professionals.” Agree or disagree?
I disagree, with a twist. The legendary Chris DeBurgh said: “Never met a critic who bought his own concert ticket. When I bought somebody’s album out of pocket, it meant something”. Feedback from fans carries weight. The flipside is, I’m uncomfortable with how reviews are approached. Stephen King and Joanne Rowling can afford a rant from ‘Crazy Cozy Corner’. A new or independent artist is vulnerable.
#1 Be kind. There is no credibility in the assertion that “something sucks”. Identify likes and dislikes. If preference is a factor, explain.
#2: Tell what a book is. Never how it goes! Withholding the ending doesn’t mean we haven’t spoiled. I like to be oblivious to plots. A review should merely describe enjoyment and age / tone / subject. Just to gauge whether this book is for us.
#3: “Sounding outdated” isn’t on an author’s head. A novel is current when it is written. If there are horses and buggies instead of laptops, what of it? Don’t dock a star. Say so if a cover was misleading but evaluate a book on what it IS. Not whether it matches society today.
#4: “Figured out the culprit” is usually docked as a bad thing. I applaud a decipherable mystery. Honestly, predicting ‘A’ or ‘B’ is a guess. If we can’t expound on motive or method, guessing doesn’t amount to a weak novel.
3. What is more important to you: discovering authors or sticking with favourites?
Phyllis A. Whitney, Robert A. Arthur Junior... the favourites with whom I grew up were once new to me. Adoring gothic mysteries, I was a child gobbling authors I could only presume dead based on publication dates! Many lived until recently. It feels wonderful that I continue to find voices that enthral me, older or current. I now cherish Lyn Hamilton, Charlotte MacLeod, Nancy Atherton, Juliet Blackwell, Kate Carlisle, and Kate Kingsbury. There’s no storage limit in our heart. Succeeding discoveries don’t replace what already stirs our soul. We add enrichment all of our life.
4. What is your unusual talent?
I have an uncanny memory. After years, I recall who wrote last, with what news we left off. My trivia knows no bounds. I’ll satiate it for my birthday on the 18th! By car, other children spotted Volkswagens or cows. My brothers and I invented games to squeeze the mind as far as it will go. “Name 30 songs by David Bowie. They don’t need to be hits”. “Try 20 by A-ha”. “Do 4 by Platinum Blonde. You can do it”! My fiancé and I do likewise with “birds that start with E”.... I remember lines from films, television shows. I’m not referring to a “Jeopardy” expanse of knowledge already absorbed. But if I myself have been exposed to it, I can answer it for a board game.
5. Do you read on an electronic device? Why not?
I’ll dig deeper than “I like the feel of a book”! Determination to “clean up” is popular, if people have other priorities for their living space. Books set the ambiance of our home. Consider, mine aren’t an obstruction to “get rid of”. I expunge what I disliked. What I keep signifies more than the material within. Think of e-books as a poster. You do see what the art looks like but some desire the dynamics of original paintings. There’s a broader purpose than viewing the image. Finding books is a quest! Encountering my wish list in person, or a low price on-line at high quality, is exhilarating. Some quests took years: “The Maze In The Heart Of The Castle” by Dorothy Gilman and even more so her autobiography, “A New Kind Of Country”. Next, is a childlike excitement to make room for them! I stand back and gaze at what I collected, like admiring my life’s work. I feel satisfaction and peace. I derive enjoyment well ahead of the act of reading. Why do I treasure the tangible? Psychometry pertains to the energy we leave on objects. A digital file is a world away from a letter or book your Great-Grandmother touched personally. Museums are valued because artifacts, like us, are affected by time. Their survival awes us. By the presence of an object older than me, I touch a past era. If my book is new, then I am the beginning of its lifetime. We are the ones with a shelf life. It’s comforting that our touch impacts what we love and use. A separate explanation is that we do so much with computers; I like some pastimes independent of them. I don’t want to involve software in everything I do. All eggs ought not rely on the same basket. When photography turned digital, after music, movie-watching, and Christmas ‘cards’ (yuck); I wondered how many self-powered hobbies we had left. Lastly, tangible items contain an opportunity for tangible surprises! Thrice in a used book, I’ve discovered the author’s autograph. Once there was a viable tomato seed. In an eerie moment at night, a child’s school photograph fell out of an old mystery. Lovers of stories suit ‘kindles’. It is my pleasure to share why books suit me. I pray they are always available in print.
6. Books you can’t get into.
Here is a long-standing plea for elements I favour! I have a passion for the realistic paranormal (no zombies / vampires / werewolves). I seek good ghost fiction, that isn’t for youths or children. I like E.J. Copperman but jocularity and blatant ghost interaction remove the sense of wonder. A calm, informative encounter is fine but not nonchalance. Etherealness should exude clearly. I accept secret rooms and puzzles as a replacement for enchantment. I put my foot down at using a paranormal title, if “a reasonable explanation” occurs! Secondly: we need protagonists over 30, who aren’t bitterly divorced, or nuns. They can be paranormal or good old mysteries, as long as we aren’t dealing with a 20 year-old governess or heiress! Fully adult heroines reflect genuine beauty. I don’t mind married, single, or widowed as long as the focus is a striking individual. Juliet Blackwell’s two series accomplish this, as does Kate Kingsbury’s ‘Pennyfoot Hotel’, and Nancy Atherton’s ‘Lori and Bill’. Kate Carlisle’s ‘Brooklyn’ is the right age. An adult heroine -with- an excellent paranormal story, is the ultimate find!
7 . Tell us a local ghost story.
In Winnipeg, you feel the Walker Theatre’s vibes when you sit in the once-classy hall! “Ghost Stories Of Manitoba” describes a reporter who arranged a late visit decades ago. She and a worker set a tape-recorder on the topmost floor. Not so much as a dust mite whirled by and they packed up. When she played the tape, there was the loudest stomping imaginable! It sounded like a one-hundred person parade, banging and shuffling as if the place were busy to the rafters. It was renamed “Burton Cummings Theatre”. We prefer Walker Theatre. It’s no coincidence the most enchanting evenings were performed there: Garbage, Corey Hart, Chris DeBurgh, Olivia Newton John.