I know you don't really care about learning more about me, but I thought I would share this interview between my editor (Dan Walker) and myself. This took place over AIM on January 6, 2010. If you're not interested in learning more about me, feel free to skip it, regular posting resumes tomorrow. If there are additional questions you wish to ask, I will be happy to answer them in the comment section. Interview edited for spelling errors, flow, and clarity.
Dan Walker: I just want to start off by asking you to introduce yourself to us. We already know a lot about you from reading your blog, but this needs some kind of a beginning. Maybe this post is someone's first
time here or something, who knows.
LibsLIB: My name is Amy Campbell, I've lived all over the country between my mother being in the Air Force and then attending Antioch College where I participated in the co-op program. My family was and continues to be fairly dysfunctional whenever we're in the same room together, but we seem to function pretty well separately. I have a background in history and received my Masters degree in Library Science in August
2009 from Kent State University, where I met my fiance who is a constant pain in my ass and the light of my life.
DW: Why did you decide to start blogging, and to start this blog in particular?
LibsLIB: I started the blog up in March 2010. By that time I had already been unemployed for about seven months and I felt this might be a good distraction for me. At the very least it would get me more involved
in professional development in the form of reader's advisory, which among other things is a librarian or other informed person making reading recommendations. The idea for this particular blog had actually been floating around in my head for several years. I've always related reading to my personal life and how it can enrich it or trigger memories or deepen my thinking about certain topics. I was curious to see if other people did this as well, or if it would improve their reading experiences if they started to do this.
So I began by sharing my personal reading experiences and thoughts with reading and seeing if anyone was interested in sharing their own, or at least listening to mine.
DW: Is there anything in particular in your background, personal or professional, that you think gives you unique insight into the subject of books and reading?
LibsLIB: Well, everyone brings their own particular insight to reading, from what they choose to read in the first place to what it makes them feel or think about, and that can change from moment to moment based on when and where they read the book. I think given my lifelong experiences as a reader, a historian, and a librarian I may be able to put literature into a more involved context than someone who has less experience in these backgrounds, but then their insights may be more thoughtful just because it's the first time they've been exposed to a certain reading experience or concept. It's really a matter of personal taste and opinion, which is why I like having guest bloggers to give a different view point every now and then.
DW: Tell me about your guest bloggers: Who are they? Where did you find them? How important are their posts to you, and to your project?
LibsLIB: At the moment my guest bloggers mostly consist of family and friends. There's Dan Walker who is my future husband and also my editor, although he sometimes lets things slip. You get what you pay for I guess. He and I almost never agree on literature, so it's interesting to see some of his reflections. He prefers to write under a pseudonym, while some of my other guest bloggers just use initials.
That gets us to Kyle B. Kyle is actually a mutual friend, with a background in journalism, which I thought would work well with the personal essay nature of the blog.
Then there's Dayna Ingram, who I met at Antioch College during my undergraduate program. She's actually gone on to become a writer and so it's great to get that perspective. She mostly works in fiction and has a couple of self-published novels. I love her posts because they are usually off the wall and we have a similar sense of humor.
Marybeth Cieplinski is also a writer and mutual friend of my fiance's. Although Marybeth's background is mostly in fan-fiction (X-Files), she also has some really unique insights, being a person who has gained much wisdom in her years of child rearing. I like that I'm able to get her perspective as a mother, writer, and as
a non-traditional student. It's hard to express how proud and happy I am for her for receiving her Bachelor's degree just this year.
DW: Sounds like a great bunch of people! So let's talk blog content. You read a lot of children's and YA fiction, it seems. Tell us about that. Do you find it odd at all?
LibsLIB: I wouldn't say I read a lot of it. I think if you look back over my blog I read a pretty eclectic bunch of books. I certainly don't find it at all odd. I think a lot of people still enjoy stories from their childhood and are trying to capture the feel of it, not to mention there are just some great stories being written for children and YA. I know when I was growing up we didn't have nearly as many choices in
literature as we do now. If adults are benefiting from this as well I see absolutely nothing wrong with it, but then I think everyone should read anything and everything they can get their hands on.
DW: You certainly do read a broad variety of books. Would you think of yourself as young at heart, or fun loving? I only ask because of the occasional toilet humor, and here I am referring specifically to Pooping on Mars.
LibsLIB: Probably more fun loving than young at heart. I like to think of myself as a curmudgeonly old lady in training. You have to understand I was raised on Looney Toons and Mel Brooks, that's going to make for
a strange sense of humor.
DW: Sorry, that picture just made an impression on me. "Fun loving" fits, I think. You also talk a lot about the darker side of things, I notice. I recall a mention or two about your soul being black, for instance.
LibsLIB: That goes more with my twisted sense of humor. I can't remember that particular reference, but whenever people ask me how I take my coffee, my response is usually, "Black like my soul." I just think it's funny and it usually takes people back a bit before they realize I'm having them on. In the meantime, watching their faces as they figure out what to do gives me an inner sense of glee.
DW: Haha! So what about zombies and vampires? You apparently like both, and you've griped about vampires a lot, especially in regards to Twilight. Do the supernatural monster genres hold a special place in your life?
LibsLIB: Not so much the monsters themselves as the recognizable bits of humanity within the monsters. It's not what's different that makes them so scary, it's what makes them like us, because if they can be monsters and feel things like lust (Dracula), loneliness (Frankenstein), etc. then what kind of monsterlike behavior are we capable of? With zombies it's a bit more direct because we have a deeply embedded distaste for the dead because...well, they're just not sanitary to be around. The idea of a dead corpse walking around and mucking up the air alone ought to scare the bejesus out of a sane person. Having them bite you on top of that? I wouldn't even want a living person biting me.
DW: And when they start sparkling, you get angry.
LibsLIB: I'm actually not so angry about the sparkling. It's stupid and it's silly and it's a bastardization of the genre, but when it comes down to it, I have a problem with the romanticizing of dangerous relationships. These are not the kinds of relationships we want young people to idealize and set as their standards for romantic love, because they will either never be achieved or if they are it will be with someone who is controlling, moody, and "mysterious." To me mysterious is just another word for not knowing anything about the person you plan to spend forever with. I don't see how that can possibly be a positive thing to teach our young people. Besides, Count Chocula is more intimidating than the sparkly freaks Meyer
DW: He is also more delicious. If I may extrapolate, you're concerned about the effects of media on young people.
LibsLIB: I am, especially since this used to be a genre in which we have some really strong female role models. Buffy the Vampire slayer is the obvious front runner here, but then you also have fantasy and
sci-fi writers who were making real progress in producing headstrong females who were also allowed to have love lives and be good role models, and I feel [Twilight] just threw us back into the dark ages.
It's like the revival of the "get back in the kitchen" joke, except it's not really much of a joke is it?
DW: Just for reference, can you give another example of good female role models in fantasy or sci-fi?
LibsLIB: More recently I'd say Katniss from the Hunger Games Trilogy. Despite all the bull-hockey about Team Peeta/Team Gale, which was all fan-frenzy anyway, Katniss all along said, "No, not with the world the way it is now. Marriage means children and I won't have my children subjected to the Hunger Games." For this reason I very much wanted everyone who was excited about who Katniss would end up with in the third book to omg shut the hell up. But even Mina Harker was a stronger character than Bella Swan, Harker at least had her own personality and started to explore her sexuality in relation to her strange attraction to Dracula. Another example is Lauren Olamina from my favorite book Parable of the Sower. Her world is falling apart around her and she seems to be the only one to recognize it. Her parents tell her not to go around scaring people, so instead she begins to prepare for the inevitable. Although she can't save everyone because they have their heads in the sand, she is able to save herself and some others, and rebuilds a community based on the principle that everyone has a special skill set or knowledge to
DW: It's just a shame that these characters aren't in the million-selling, movie-making series.
LibsLIB: I wouldn't be surprised to see the Hunger Games turned into movies, but honestly I'm okay with keeping them in literature where they can tell us their story directly rather than having it focused through the
lens of what would likely be a male director.
DW: Let's switch gears. Rupert the Magical Pony. Tell us about him.
LibsLIB: Rupert is a magical pony and he lives in a magical pony field and he goes on magical pony adventures and it usually ends poorly for him.
DW: How'd you come up with him, and I mean him specifically? Why a magical pony, why such a tendency to die at the end of the stories?
LibsLIB: Ponies are kind of naturally ridiculous: they have all the looks of a horse, which is a majestic and useful animal, but somehow when it got translated to a pony it's just kinda like, "Yeah...what are we gonna
do about you?" As far as his actual creation it took a lot of watching of bad movies and 80's cartoons. And I like to think his tendency to die is kind of mocking writers who "drop bombs" as the ending of their stories. Also, killing magical ponies is hilarious.
DW: I can't argue with the results. What, aside from death, is Rupert's future?
LibsLIB: I have no idea. I've gotten really good responses to it. I'd like to see Rupert stories published or maybe turned into a season long TV show. The stories I worked on during NaNoWriMo still have a lot of
work that need to be done before I'd even consider sending them to an agent. I'm not even sure I could find someone willing to publish them, which is a shame because I think Rupert has a lot to teach us.
DW: We can all learn a lot from a cheerfully oblivious talking pony. I wanted to wind down with a big question: Where, in your opinion, does your blog fit in with the rest of the literary blogosphere?
LibsLIB: It doesn't really. It's kind of the ugly baby. But I don't think there's anything wrong with having a blog dedicated to self-reflection in reading and I think it will makes us all more thoughtful and
intelligent and open to new ideas.
DW: If you weren't blogging, what would you be doing?
LibsLIB: I'd still probably be reading a lot. As it is I watch a lot of movies on Netflix, so I'd probably do more of that. Mostly I'd be doing much of the same things I'm doing now; I would just be more miserable
because I would feel less productive about it. I mean, it's great having an audience and I love getting feedback, but to be honest I keep the blog because I like doing it.
DW: I think that's what's most important. Where do you see yourself and your blog in the next few years?
LibsLIB: I will probably drop the daily format at some point. I can't reasonably keep up with that. I imagine it will depend on what kind of job I have and how much time I have to read. I'm trying not to look too far into the future because right now it's like a big empty blank space and I have no idea how to fill it. There are really just too many uncertainties for me to answer that question.
DW: Well, I think we all wish you the best. Any last words you'd like to say to your readers?
LibsLIB: That is a terrible closer, and I'm sorry my fiance/editor/interviewer is such a tool. But otherwise, keep reading.
[Editor's note: I am not a tool.]