Friday, June 1, 2012

Guest Reader Interview: Twelve Questions with Marc Mullinex

For your pleasure, and with my dismay, today Inside the Pod at the Reader Roundtable we have Marc Mullinex. I was first introduced to Marc by complete accident. A long story short, it was all due to a tweet gone wrong and a result of my poor mastery of all things tech. He's British. And he can't help it -- for he was born that way. For almost two years, via social media, myself and the other Peas have bantered with and been assaulted by his dry wit and snark. He's a character for sure... and I had very little to do with the runaway train that ended up this blog post. I give you... MarcUpdates.

Marc: Well, hello there! Thanks for having me round. I must say the Blogʼs looking very shiny. Ooh, cookies... uh... I’m starting to feel tire...

(Marc wakes up with a bright light shining in his face.)

Marc: “Uh... what’s happening? Mickey?”

M: “Silence silly Brit! Answer the questions and we, the Ninja Peas, might let you out in one piece!”

Marc: “Uh... o.k.”

M: Question one. With so many books to read, why do you choose the books you do?

Marc: Mood. Mood plays a major part in what I want to read. If I’m being overwhelmed by the mundane, then I want something fantastic to lift me out it. If I’m down, I want something that will make me laugh, which is when I turn to Pratchett. Sometimes I just want some comfort reading, thatʼs when I turn to old favorites and sometimes itʼs plain old curiosity.

M: How has the eBook revolution changed the way you read and how you buy books?

Marc: How has it changed? Well, its made traveling a lot easier. In the past any time I went anywhere I’d have a suitcase of books. Not these days. For the most part the majority of the books I buy are e-books, but I try to go with the most economical option. Often that means you can find me hunting in thrift stores and online second hand bookstores.

M: List the five books that stick with you and tell why they do.

Marc: Um... Five books that stick with me. It varies a lot, but I’d say Her Majesty’s Wizard by Christopher Stasheff, And Eternity by Piers Anthony, Love Bites by Lynsay Sands, Guards! Guards! By Terry Pratchett and The Belgariad By David Eddings. Her Majesty’s Wizard because it deals with the world swap trope really well, And Eternity because it provides a fantastic unifying theory of evolution and creationism, Love Bites because it’s a really fun take on the traditional vampires. Guards! Guards! because it helps with that most maligned of fantasy tropes, The City Guard, the poor guys that the barbarian hero usually dispatched quicker then ale and The Belgariad because it’s one of the most enjoyable epic fantasies I’ve ever read.

M: Some people read, some people don't -- why do you think you ended up becoming a reader?

Marc: I was encouraged from an early age to read, I started with British comics like The Beano And The Dandy, moved on to 2000AD and then moved into books and kept going. I had trouble reading as a kid, but my mum spent hours with me with flash cards helping to teach me in defiance of what the school had said.

M: What makes a book disappointing to you?

Marc: Hm... I think if it’s tired, worn out, riddled with clichés and repetition, that can really do me in. There are a series of books out there, where we are repeatedly told that so-and-so carries X, Y and Z and that substance A reminds them of person B. Enough already, we get it. We got it the first five times. Repeating it every other chapter book after book for five books is just annoying. Another thing that gets me is bad pacing and weak endings. If the pace isn’t at least reasonably consistent, I’m going to get bored. If I get bored, I’m not going to finish. Weak endings. If your book doesn’t so much as finish as wind down, leaving me unsatisfied, then the chances are I won’t buy the next one. Oh, and this is a biggie. If you’ve written a dozen books in a series, don’t finish one on a cliffhanger. That’s a cheap trick, you’re better than that.

M: If you see yourself as a genre specific reader, what about that genre keeps you coming back and why do you feel the others don't attract you?

Marc: Bit of a tough one this. I read a few genres, but they tend to overlap. Your traditional whodunits don’t generally have a whole lot of action, it’s all about the deduction. Your paranormal romances don’t always have a lot of deduction or action. No fiction based genre as a whole fails to completely attract me, but I do like my stuff to be removed from reality. For example, I’m not going to read a fictional book about someone’s life during WW2 and their family and all that. I need an element of the fantastic, be it spaceships, vampires or wizards with amusingly long beards.

M: Does the Internet (Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads), book reviews (blogs, Amazon, and B&N), or any media buzz influence your desire to read a book? How or how not?

Marc: Ha! If they did, then I should have read Twilight a dozen times by now. Reviews can help especially by someone that I know has similar tastes and opinions to me. However, too much social media can turn me right off a book. Authors of Twitter heed me! Spamming everyone to buy your book 30 times a day? Not a good idea!

M: What makes you pick up a book or author you've never read before? And do you judge a book by its cover?

Marc: At the risk of sounding incredibly shallow, cover art goes one hell of a long way towards my choice. Other then that, I’ll go by the title or the description, if it sounds interesting, I’ll give it a shot. Sometimes, yes, I do judge a book by its cover. I know I have a preference of style when it comes to covers. Often the cover can be the tipping point on whether I’ll buy a book or go to the library. Awesome cover doesn’t always mean awesome book, but as the French say “The first bite is with the eye.” Meaning, if it doesn’t look good no one’s going to taste it to see.

M:Favorite Protagonist of all time. Why?

Marc: Batman. Because he’s Batman.(grins and ducks out of Mickeyʼs reach)While I do have a deep and possibly unhealthy love of Batman, I think I might be tempted to go with Ben Aaronovitchʼs Constable Peter Grant. He’s a fun character that is very down to earth and is doing his damnedest to deal with being dropped into a crazy world he wasn’t aware of. Sometimes he does better than others. I like that more than those that smoothly take it in their stride. Failing him, I’d have to go with Mercury Smith, I think he’s gr—Ow! Ow! Stop hitting me, Mickey, I get it! I get it! O.K., apparently, I’m not allowed to talk about that.

M: Have there been books you didn't finish reading? Explain yourself.

Marc: There’s been quite a few books I haven’t finished over time. Lord Of The Rings was almost one of them. As I said earlier, if the pacing is off or the material fails to hold my interest or the book just keeps repeating itself ad nauseum then the chances are I’m not going to finish it. Alternatively, if I see a series going in a direction that I don’t care for, i.e, it changes from kick butt to nigh on constant paranormal sex... yeah, that’s an auto DNF.

M: Favorite villain of all time. Explain yourself. Marc: Favourite villain. This might technically be cheating, but I’m going to go with Jack the Ripper, no one really knows who he was, and he’s been written about so much in various fiction I think he’s outstripped his bloody origins. If that’s not allowed, I’ve got to go with the classic nemesis, the archetype of villainy, the professor of crime, Dr. James Moriarty. He’s everything you could want. Villainous, completely amoral, willing to do anything he has to achieve his end, no matter how many bodies pile up. As long as he gets what he wants that is all that matters to him.

M: What does reading give you in your life that nothing else can?

Marc: Space. It gives me the space to tune out the rest of the world and my own thoughts and just drop into another, often, simpler (but not always nicer!) world.

Marc: O.k., I’ve answered your questions now? Can I go? Why are you bringing that black hood over? What are you dommphe maple mhhmmff

(Marc wakes up several hours later, with his t-shirt on back to front, sitting on a roadside in Missouri with a voucher for a free happy meal that expired in 1986.)

Marc Mullinex (AKA MarcUpdates) lives in the United Kingdom. He plays with toy soldiers and pretends to write. He has a better collection of books then his local library (in some subjects). He’s grumpy, cantankerous, and highly opinionated. The Peas discovered and were discovered by him via Twitter and he has a talent for engaging them in snarky banter at any given moment through out the day.

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