Monday, February 16, 2015

Reader Interview: Reader-Teacher Carolyn

Reader interviews are where readers share how and what they read...

Bio: I am a retired American, living in eastern Romania. I moved here in 2009 to be with my spiritually adopted family and I volunteer teach Conversational American English to children and adults. I haed a grown son and 2 grandchildren in America. My educational background is math, science, and anthropology, and I have a Bachelor of Science degree and I did quite a bit of graduate work. I am passionate about the English language and do some scifi and fantasy writing. I have written professionally for website content, and I edit books for publication. My hobbies are Science Fiction anything of course, Mensa, computers, B-Movies (the stinkier the better), 1930s movies, cooking, hard rock music, and I was a trained cellist. I never stop reading and studying, and my current challenge is learning Romanian.

How often do you read? 

I have been reading science fiction steadily for at least 62 years, and I never stop reading – I have been accused of being a compulsive reader. I started with comics when I could only look at the pictures. I recall lying on my bed at age 5, wilting on a hot Houston summer afternoon, devouring Uncle Scrooge, Superman, Plastic Man, Katie Keen, The Flash. I remember vividly my first adult level scifi, checked out of the library when I was 11 years old – “The Wheels of If” by L. Sprague de Camp. I didn't understand a bit of it, but it cracked my mind open to a whole new world, and I was hooked. 

How fast do you read? 

I am a speed reader. I usually have several books going at the same time. I can complete a fairly good-sized novel in a day.

Favorite authors? 

Number one forever is Ray Bradbury, whom I was blessed to meet, and I took that opportunity to tell him how he formed and changed my life. He was genuinely humble and gracious and we had a delightful conversation, which is a very precious memory. All the authors from the Golden Age of scifi are special loves: Asimov, Larry Niven, Michael Moorcock, Robert Sliverberg, Phillip Jose Farmer, Frederick Pohl, Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Clifford Simak, Harlan Ellison...I could go on extensively. Robert Forward and Greg Bear are favorite newer authors, for their pure hard scifi. 

What are your preferred genres to read for fun? 

I read about 90% science fiction and of that I prefer true hard scifi. I do read some fantasy around vampires. I love huge stories with the Universe as the setting.

What genres will you NOT read, or dislike reading? 

I just don't read non scifi: murder mysteries, political intrigue, politics, court drama, thieves, romance, “literature,” or anything depicting torture and real-life violence.  I was cured of what is termed “literature” in public school by being force fed Dickens, Dostoevsky, Faulkner. Hemingway, you know them...they may be the greats, but they are to me, dull and ponderous. I tried recently to take up Dickens again...all “grown up” as I am now, and I was not able to get past the first chapter of “A Tale of Two Cities.“

What influences your choice of book to read for fun?

Author and the hard scifi genre are where I go first. I will always read a favorite author, and I enjoy re-reading the classics, but I eagerly search for new authors. With Amazon's “Look Inside,” you can get a taste of new writers. I love paperbacks the best, but here in Romania, English language scifi has to be ordered and costs a premium. So I love my Kindle! But I always treasure a big, fat paperback because I know I will have a long time of reading adventure ahead, can scribble in it, and dogear the pages.  I listen to classic scifi audio at Loyal Books on my PC when I am working. 

What's the best book you've ever read?

That's a tough one, because several come to mind. But if I were forced to choose one,  I would say “The Wheels Of If,” not because it's “best,” which is really impossible to judge given the wealth of great novels, but because of the impact it had on the path I chose. 

What's the worst book you've ever read?

“Pet Cemetery” Apologies to Stephen King fans! I admire and bow to his talent and prolific production. But for me, he too often abused his characters, too disturbing after I had come to love them. Children and dogs are sacred and I couldn't abide what happened to those characters

What elements make a good story? 

Big settings populated with credible, rich characters, who have realistic, believable interactions and responses to each other and to events, all set against the huge backdrop of science fiction. 

What makes you roll your eyes or groan in a story? 

Unrealistic characterization, gore, and gratuitous sex.

Ever watch movies based on books, or read a book because it's already been made into a movie? 

Yes, I will always give a movie a chance, based on a book I enjoyed, and vice versa. A great example is the novel “Alien,” written after the movie came out, by Allen Dean Foster.

Where do you like to read the most? 

Curled up on the sofa, or late at night, snug in bed. 

If you'd like to share your reading preferences, email them to Troglodad AT gmail DOT com.

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