Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ON BOOKS ~ Where Else Can You Hear About Nietzsche & Gere..?

Today in the virtual Book Expo. of America experience, aka Armchair BEA, we are tasked with interviewing other Armchair BEA bloggers. I like to think of it as a good old fashioned Meet & Greet. Now, mind you, if I was at the actual BEA conference in NYC and bumped into Stephanie of Laughing Stars for the first time at a face to face networking event, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to research her blog and come up with all of these questions. It would have gone more like....where are you from, what's your niche, why do you blog. But since Armchair BEA lets me poke around and discover what she's all about first, you end up with a networking conversation that covers everything from Nietzsche to Richard Gere:

Hi Molly! Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog.

Welcome Stephanie!  Lets start with a bookish question and one that I am curious about for all book bloggers.  Do you find that ARC's dictate your reading schedule or do you have a way of mixing them into your existing TBR pile?

I am not one of those bloggers who has a steady stream of ARCs coming into the house, but it's amazing how quickly the books I DO get for review are taking over my reading time. Lately I've found that books I accept for review, or that I borrow from traveling ARC tours, dictate most of my reading time. Although I love reviewing ARCs, and I am honored when I'm given a book for review, it's time to rethink my priorities. Are other book bloggers struggling with this?

I noticed that you reference you have worked in journalism.  What is your journalism background and how has it translated to your blog?

My journalism background is limited to a brief stint as a reporter and staff writer for a small town newspaper. I was right out of college -- it was the year George Bush was elected (the dad, not the son) -- so that reveals my age. :-) I quickly found I was not detail oriented enough to be a good reporter; I left after six months.

While I was there, I spent a lot of time in court, covering a local murder trial and other assorted cases. Watching all these people come before the judge and seeing the mess they'd made of their lives, I found I didn't want to just sit there and take notes. I wanted to try to help -- to be part of the solution. So I went to graduate school to become a counselor.

I don't think my journalism background is reflected in my blog, but it did make me a better writer. I learned to be more focused and concise in my writing, an area in which I am continually trying to improve.

Motherhood is a big inspirational point for you. What ways do you use that to inspire others?

Motherhood is definitely the ruling passion in my life. I don't know that I am an inspiration to others, but I do enjoy blogging about literature and other educational resources for kids, homeschooling, and how children learn. I'm kind of an evangelist for delayed academics -- not pushing formal learning too early -- and teaching and guiding children in a way that honors each child's learning style. Sometimes I meet parents with similar philosophies who tell me they've found some of my blog posts inspiring. Similarly, I glean a lot of inspiration and encouragement from other blogging parents and teachers.

You have experience working with the disadvantaged.  Do you believe that pain and struggle are empowering?

That's a tough question. It's tempting to believe that, as Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." I suspect all of us have had to suffer things that seemed too horrible to endure, and we want to believe that pain wasn't for naught. But honestly, I don't know.

I do believe that many people have gleaned strength from their suffering, drawing on what it most essential in the core of themselves. I've been inspired by Viktor Frankl, a psychotherapist whose philosophy was largely formed from having lived in a Nazi concentration camp. He saw that often the people who survived were those who had an intense sense of purpose for their lives. “Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how.'” He went on to help others with their search for meaning.

Your blog isn't just about books - it covers movies too.  Are you willing to admit which movie is your guiltiest pleasure?

Hmmm ... for some reason I'm stuck on that question. When I was in high school, my best friend and I went to see An Officer and a Gentleman many times in the theater. We thought Richard Gere was insanely gorgeous, and that movie had the hottest cinematic sex scene we'd seen to date. (Keep in mind, we'd been reared in an era before VCRs and Cable T.V., so we were easily impressed :-P) Then we discovered Body Heat, which was even hotter and dirtier. Nirvana!

Recently, though I've never found gratuitous violence in movies entertaining, I watched both Pulp Fiction and Burn After Reading multiple times, laughing out loud even as I was cringing at the blood splatter. It's amazing the things you discover about yourself in midlife!

Thanks for taking the time to share so much about yourself Stephanie!  I too was impacted strongly by Mr. Gere's performance in that movie.  So much so that I played "Up Where We Belong" ad nauseum on the piano instead of my assigned lessons.  Thanks to Armchair BEA, I have found another blogger out there with plenty to talk about.  Visit Stephanie's blog to read her interview with another Armchair BEA participant.  And if you want to read an interview with moi, visit Kate's blog, The Neverending Shelf, to see what kinds of things she got me to share.


Florinda said...

Great interview - it was great getting to know a little about Stephanie, whose blog is new to me. I know what she means about ARCs taking over your reading, though.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Love the interview! And now of course I can't get "Up Where We Belong" out of my head, but there are worse things that can happen....

April said...

Great interview! So much fun getting to know fellow bloggers better!!!

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

Loved this interview. Excellent questions, Molly. It's nice to get to know a new friend in addition to discovering a new blog. I like her philosophy on education. I'm going over to check out her blog now.

Valerie said...

interesting interview! I liked reading how Stephanie's life path has changed over time.

Kathleen said...

I love this opportunity to be introduced to some bloggers that are new to me. I'm glad you were able to participate.

Ashley Ladd said...

Good job Molly and Stephanie. I wish I'd thought to ask Kathleen about the ARC's when I interviewed her. I'll have to ask her now.

I reviewed a few years ago and although I enjoyed reading, it got to be too much with writing and the day job.

Gwen said...

Really good questions and such honest and enlightening answers. Kudos!

Kathleen said...

Ashley and all, I have limited the ARCs that I accepted in the past but am starting to accept more now. I still tend to read more from my shelves or from my library.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Molly, you are quite the brilliant interviewer, you know that? Great questions! To answer Stephanie, YES, I have issues with accepting too many review copies and having them rule my life. I am consciously trying to stop accepting them so I can read what I have, but I still get sucked in. And yes, my BFF and I saw Gere in that movie countless times. I had a boyfriend in the Navy at the time, so there you go. No I am off to hear what you have to say about yourself Molly!

Michelle said...

Nietzsche and sex scenes with Richard Gere...now THAT makes a great interview! Thank you for helping us get to know Stephanie a bit more!

And yes, ARCs and review copies have a tendency to take over your life if you let them.