Monday, October 17, 2011

This Week's Reader Interview with Sarah Brabazon

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live with my husband and two children aboard a 32’ yacht. We are currently in Tasmania, and making our way slowly up the East Coast of Australia. We have no schedule and no particular destination in mind. I love how as cruisers, we are able to stay in a community for enough time to make connections with people and get a real sense of a place. I’m a romance writer, and ship’s engineer (I have a degree in maritime engineering), my husband (an IT executive and photographer) is the skipper and sailing master, and also takes care of the bulk of homeschooling our seven and nine year old sons.

When and how did you discover that you love reading fiction?
I grew up in a mining town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The population density was one person per square kilometre, so friends were thin on the ground. By the end of primary school, I had read the entire contents of the school library, and the junior section of the town library and had started on the encyclopaedias. Books have been my friends, mentors and teachers throughout my life. I don’t remember not being able to read, and I still read voraciously, both fiction and non-fiction–sometimes when I should be doing other things.

What are some of your favorite books and who are some of your favorite authors?
As a child, I devoured Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton and anything featuring horses that I could find, including Black Beauty, The Black Stallion and Elyne Mitchell’s iconic Australian Alps horse series that begins with The Silver Brumby. I love science fiction, from Asimov and Jerry Pournelle to Ian M. Banks, Terry Pratchett and Greg Bear. I re-read CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner series every couple of years. I read fantasy, particularly anything written by Tansy Raynor Roberts. I also read historical fiction from Patrick O’Brien to Kris Kennedy (check out her covers, they are awesome!). I love vampires, werewolves: Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries (Eric is my quintessential alpha hero), the Twilight series and also were-marsupials (Kate Gordon’s YA series ‘Thyla’ is original and entertaining).

Speaking of YA, I love Scott Westerfield. His ideas are original and his stories mesmeric. The collaborations between Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer are among my all-time favourites too. In Category Romance, I love Kelly Hunter, Annie West and Trish Morey. I also read a lot of non-fiction: writing craft, psychology, natural history, social history and anything else that might be interesting (read: anything with an intriguing cover or blurb, or recommended by someone from my network). I could go on, but you get the drift...

What is your favorite thing about reading fiction?
I love a good long series when it transports me to another world where I can stay awhile, but I also love a well-written category romance because I can have a one or two hour break from reality, without getting sucked into an all-nighter. Reading allows me into the mind of another person; I become the hero and the heroine, and triumph over adversity again and again.

Do you have any “pet peeves” about authors, something they do that really annoys you?
Yes, I do. I have tried to read the Lord of the Rings about twenty-five times, but I always get hung up on the histories in the beginning. People tell me to skip over it but to me, if a book is to be read at all, it is to be all read (I’m getting over this, so maybe it’s time for another attempt).

Do you write fiction yourself?
I currently write pure romance, contemporary and historical. I’m on the path to publication, targeting Mills and Boon. With a backup plan, inspired by Bob Mayer and yourself, of joining with a bunch of friends and ‘self’ publishing.

What do you think about ebooks vs. paper books?
I love both! I bought my first eReader in 1998, a Franklin eBookman 911, and it cost me US$499 at a time when the Aussie dollar was running at about 50 cents. I find the current crop of readers to be cheap, versatile and easy-to-use. The main thing for me is longevity, since proprietary formats disappear. I love my book management software ‘Calibre’, which converts between formats so I will always be able to read the books I have bought. On the other hand, I often see the words ‘please plug in your Kobo for charging’ when I go to read. This never happens with a paper book (would someone please develop a solar charging e-ink screen – like the ‘eco-drive’ watch). I now try to keep my numerous purchases in electronic format and only buy paper books when I absolutely love them (usually in hardcover). Since on the boat, I have only about a foot of bookshelf space, these purchases go in the shipping container for when I am land based again.

What is your favorite Mike Wells book and why?
I’m a complete wuss when it comes to horror and thrillers which you do particularly well, Mike. So my favourite novel has been ‘Secrets of the Elusive Lover.’ I love how you create characters who feel real. I wanted to bang Adam about the head with a fat book for his duplicitous ways, but I was reacting to him as if he were real––not fictional. Even though I love a ‘happily ever after,’ I think he thoroughly deserved his ambiguous ending. So it was a completely satisfying read.

Thank you for taking the time to give an interview on my blog.
You were one of the first people I connected with on twitter (through #MyWANA) who has become a friend (do we say tweep?). You demonstrate the best aspects of the Social Networking culture-under-development that I first learned about while reading Kristen Lamb’s excellent book ‘We Are Not Alone’. Thanks for the opportunity to revisit my reading past and share what I am doing now.

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Twitter: @Sarah_Brabazon
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  1. Brilliant interview.

    What a wonderful description of a fascinating way of life.

  2. Thanks, Emma. It's funny, living aboard is the norm for me. I look at interviews such as yours, and think 'how fascinating'.