Today I want to introduce you to book reviewer Lilyn G (@ScifiandScary). You may know her from her fantastic site Sci-Fi and Scary where she blogs about science fiction and horror novels and movies, along with several other reviewers. I interviewed Lilyn via email, and I think you’ll enjoy our discussion on writing over 2000 posts, what’s so intriguing about science fiction and horror, and some author recommendations that may be under your radar.
Q: You’re the founder of Sci-Fi and Scary which you started in 2015. What drew you to writing book reviews? What’s kept you going over the past 3 years?
A: I actually addressed this in my very first blog post [link mine – check out the post, it’s interesting]. I read that the average adult only read 6 books a year. That stunned me. I can’t imagine reading so little. On top of that, I have a coworker that I introduced to books who now loves to read because I took the time to figure out what her reading level was, what she enjoyed, and was able to guide her to the appropriate books.
I wanted to talk about books like I talk about them to my friends. Nothing high-brow, but more “Was it fun? What made it fun?” That type of thing.
As for what’s kept me going? Not going to lie, it’s at least 30% that once I start something, I have a very hard time breaking from it. However, free books, free movies, my excellent team, and the great community on Twitter have all played a big part as well.
Q: If my math is correct, you’ve published nearly 2000 blog posts, many of which are book reviews. That’s incredible! Thinking back, is there any posts from your early days as a book reviewer that you’re especially proud of?
Not particularly. But I am proud of the fact that the first year I managed a post a day all on my own without any assistance. I worked my butt off that year.
Q: You’re obviously a fan of the Sci-Fi genre. What draws you to science fiction?
Specifically, I like hard science fiction (though I do occasionally enjoy the softer stuff.) I like the logic of it. It’s not fantasy where an author can make up whatever he wants. Instead, hard sci-fi starts with a solid base, extrapolates probabilities based on current science, and builds a story around that. Or it takes a near-future, gives us a character we like, and gives him realistic problems to solve, for example. All of that appeals greatly to me.
I love classic science fiction too. It’s so filled with hope and wonder. You really can’t beat it. Even though some of it is balls to the walls crazy (Ie: Death World, Harry Harrison), and you can’t deny the complete saturation of the genre with strong white male heroes, it’s still just so fun and imaginative. And it’s clean fun too.
Q: I assume horror has a special place in your heart as well, seeing as you founded Sci-Fi and Scary. What drew you to the horror genre, and why do you tend to focus on Sci Fi?
I like science fiction because of the logic and the hope it offers. I like horror because, blast it, sometimes a girl just likes to see someone get smashed over their head with their own ribcage. And, in seriousness, because it’s a safe way to be afraid and let off some of that fear and anxiety that boils up in my life.
It’s not really a misconception on your part, it’s just when you happened to check the site! Seriously, for the first few months of this year, I think I maybe had three science fiction reviews? The rest were horror. I go through spurts where I’m heavily into one or the other. (I think it depends on my mood.)
But yes, in general, I try to focus more on sci-fi for the reviews for the site, and explanation for that is simple: My cohosts Gracie and Nico prefer horror. If I read a lot of horror too, it would throw off the balance, and the site’s name is Sci-Fi AND Scary. Gotta keep them both going!
I hope to add a few more team members soon with a sci-fi love in them.
Q: If you were to meet a reader new to the Sci-Fi/Horror genres, what books would you recommend to ease them in? Why these books?
That’s a trick question, sir. You didn’t give me nearly enough information about the reader to be able to answer that.
A good bookworm doesn’t just recommend their favorite books to a potential reader. They recommend ones that they think that person would genuinely love.
I mean, I love middle-grade dark fantasy, for example, and some of it is very creepy, but I wouldn’t recommend it to your average adult.
Q: What under-appreciated books do you think seasoned readers should be paying more attention too?
Well, obviously indie books! [here here!] Seasoned readers need to step away from the Big Five, and plumb the depths of the small-press world. There are some fantastic stories out there that you aren’t going to find in mainstream because they don’t fit in the conformity boxes just right.
Q: Is there an author you’ve followed who you feel doesn’t get enough attention?
Oh, lots. Let’s see…
Science fiction: J.B. Rockwell, Michael Drakich, Mathew Isaac Sobin, Greg Spry
Horror: Sue Rovens, Michaelbrent Collings, Michael Hodges, Alan Baxter, Michael Patrick Hicks
Q: Have you ever found yourself excited for a particular read, then supremely disappointed? Do you finish the book in this situation, or are you like me and toss it aside with gusto?
Definitely. I’m really hard to please, probably due to the sheer amount I read, so this happens to me more than I would prefer.
It depends on the situation. Is it a review book? Then unless it’s cringe-worthy, I’m going to grit my teeth and try to plow through. Library book? Probably going to toss it aside with gusto unless I’ve already made it to the 50% mark or something. At that point it’s like “Just go ahead and finish it.”
Q: Lately, I’ve been in search of books that will change my life in some way. Books that either open my mind to a new way of thinking or make me feel in ways I haven’t felt before. Have you read anything lately that fits that bill?
In that situation I say just read outside your current genres. Honestly, I don’t look for books that are going to make me think in a new way or anything like that. My life is extremely stressful, so when I pick up a book, I pick it up for the entertainment factor and nothing else.
C. Robert Cargill’s Sea of Rust is a good one for making you evaluate the definition of humanity and one of the possible futures of artificial intelligence, though.
Q: I would assume being a book reviewer today comes with its own unique challenges. Is there anything you have to deal with that most people take for granted?
The social media / promotional aspects. I’m solitary by nature, like individual persons occasionally, but think people as a whole suck balls. So, the fact that this whole reviewing thing only really works well if people know you and trust your brand… It’s quite literally mentally and emotionally exhausting for me.
I’m a hardcore introvert that keeps getting stuck in extrovert situation.
Q: What is the highlight moment since you’ve started reviewing books?
When I took the co-worker I mentioned in the first question out to the annual Half Price Books clearance sale and saw her face just light up. We were there for a solid few hours, and she came away with a decent stack of books, and was happy as could be.
I like recommending books to other readers. I love knowing that my support of indie authors helps them sell books and put food on the table. But yeah…that smile on her face when we walked in to the book sale – a woman who until I started talking to her had read maybe 3 books her whole life – was the moment that made it worth it.
Thanks to Lilyn for taking time to answer these questions. I hope you enjoyed it too. Be sure to check out here book reviews on Sci-Fi and Scary, and follow her on twitter.