I have another interesting one for you today with book blogger Tina at TripFiction.
Tina originally trained as an art conservator and then went on to work as a couple therapist/psychosexual therapist. Travel and books have always been her passion, so once she had more time, she decided to set up the TripFiction website together with Tony, and now there is a small team building up the website
Welcome to the blog, thanks for stepping away from yours for a few minutes to answer some questions about book blogging.
We’ll start with the easy questions and then see where we go from there!
And thank you too, Rebecca, for having me on your blog!
How long have you been book blogging and what prompted you to start?
We decided to set up the TripFiction website just over 4 years ago and writing a blog was a natural extension to that venture. The first few stuttering steps were interesting, to say the least, but once I found my stride, I have come to enjoy writing. As the blog has grown we have invited guest bloggers to write and review for us because it is now hard to balance the influx of review copies and creation of blogposts. But of course in one way, that is a nice problem to have!
Tell us a little bit about your blog, what will blog readers find there?
On the blog we mostly feature books that are really strong on location, following our strapline: “see a location through an author’s eyes”. Reading a novel set in your chosen destination can be a wonderful way to engage with a place, a unique way to explore locale. Authors often have a unique take on their city and lead the reader to hidden spots, all whilst enjoying a great story.
We also invite authors to take part in our relatively new feature “TalkingLocationWith…. where they have the opportunity to share the process of researching their setting. They can also put into words how a place feels, add cultural insight, and revel in the food and lush countryside…
Sometimes, if I get a bee in my bonnet about some aspect of publishing, I will write about that too.
What’s your favourite part about book blogging?
Well, it has to start with the knock of the postman. Books that I wouldn’t have come across in my wildest dreams often plop through our letterbox and it is the delight of finding something new to read that is exciting. Sometimes we try and champion books that aren’t on the big bookseller’s tables, that simply do not have the exposure and money behind them, yet deserve to be much more widely read.
Then the challenge of putting words together to create something that is readable and interesting. It is strange, but if I am writing about a book I have enjoyed immensely, I often struggle more to bring my thoughts together in a blogpost.
I also like the fact that I can write a blog and manage the TripFiction website wherever my computer is located, the flexibility is a real bonus. I can even sit and write in my PJs if I choose!
What has been your highlight since you’ve started?
One of the highlights is seeing numbers grow, both in terms of visitors to the site and to the blog. But primarily hearing from our readers what they think, engagement is so fundamental to what we do.
One of the wonderful things is visiting the gems we discover within the books we have read. Finding the spot from which to see St Peter’s in Rome (thank you to Mark Lamprell); I have flagged places to try in Lyon (thank you Juliette Sobanet), and when I am next in New York I will definitely head out to Calvary Cemetery in Queens (apparently from there the skyline of Manhattan is superbly defined). It was first highlighted in Tom Connolly’s novel “Men Like Air”, who is a writer after our my own heart: I returned to New York and spent months walking around and looking for the nooks and crannies where my characters carved out their lives. Those lives just hop off the pages amongst the amazing and detailed setting of the city.
If you could carry on blogging but could stop doing one thing (that’s maybe a necessary part of the process now) what would it be?
That’s easy. The admin side of both the blog and the website are growing enormously. At the moment I am often still doing the nitty gritty tasks mid evening, which might be moderating books that readers and authors have added to the site (we encourage people to add books that are strong on locate); checking reviews that have come in (anyone can leave a review for a book they have read); and checking through Twitter and Facebook, etc. The more everything builds – which is inevitable – the less time I have to read. But those are the growing pains of building a site and a blog.
What advice would you give to anyone who is considering starting a book blog?
There are now a lot of book bloggers (well, bloggers of all disciplines) out in the stratosphere, so I think new bloggers will need to find a specific and unique angle for their blog. We have just started to experiment with vlogging and so far the audience figures are pretty encouraging. But it’s not easy. And learning how to navigate Social Media is a must, otherwise the blog is a non-starter. I wrote a piece titled Things I wished I had known when I first started the TF blog, which might be useful for early days bloggers. Promoting and interacting across the spectrum of Social Media is time-consuming – yes, rewarding, even – and everyday I juggle Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. The next big thing is bound to be just around the corner, so it is really important to keep a wary eye out.
How much time does it take up?
Gosh, lots! I am winding down my other job as a couple counsellor and psychosexual therapist to concentrate more on this. It takes up a huge amount of time, potentially limitless… therefore being disciplined about down-time is really important.
What are your reading habits like?
I have one paper book on the go and I also have one book on the Kindle App, which I read on my phone. It means I don’t have to carry heavier books around when I am on the go, and the new generation of phones are that much bigger, which means reading is easier.
What state is your TBR (To Be Read) pile in?
It’s teetering for sure. We have a small group of trusted reviewers who help us out. We always have a pile that is larger than we can manage, which can be quite stressful at times. It is a bit like the myth of Sisyphus, a figure in Greek mythology, who was condemned to repeat forever the same task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. We make headway in our reading only to see the TBR pile grow once again!
What do you drink while reading?
If I read, I tend to just pick up a book and get on with it and I don’t really associate having a drink with reading. On holiday, it’s very different. A long drink, a smoothie, a mocktail or a very long gin and tonic, a glass of chilled white wine, it just depends ….
Where’s your favourite place to read?
Definitely, I am most comfortable with my feet up. The ideal place is a sun lounger. But given that isn’t accessible every day then it would be on the bed or sofa. But actually, I am pretty flexible. I can read in short bursts here, there and everywhere.
What book would you recommend, that gets little attention, that you haven’t really seen talked about? And why, what is it about this book that you love?
There are many books we have come across that deserve so much more attention. Here are just a few…
The Ashes of Berlin by Luke McCallin (Berlin)
Amazing insights into the city just after WW2
The Ice-Cream Makers by Ernest Van der Kwast (Dolomites)
A delightful story of family and ice-cream, what’s not to like?
The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)
“It’s the best thing I’ve read years” … that says it all
Sealskin by Su Bristow is one to look out for (Hebrides)
Extraordinarily well-written with such an interesting storyline
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these. It’s been a pleasure having you.
And thank you so much for having me!!
You can find all previous book blogger posts, HERE.
If you’re a book blogger and want to take part then do let me know.