Monday, June 11, 2012

SDB Interviews: Caleb of 20four12

The student has become the master.

Caleb, of the book review blog 20four12, lists me as his blogging mentor. However, he has surpassed me in followers and comments.

Here is his "serious" blogger photo—he loves this picture of himself and I think it makes him look like a drag.
Caleb is my husband of almost six years, but that's only part of why I am featuring him on So Dang Brilliant. I am proud of his dedication to blogging and his ability to write about his reading! 
From his "About" page, here is a fun fact about him that I didn't know until recently:


I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to pull off being famous, but someday it will happen. It might be for something I’ve done in the professional realm, or maybe for something I write in the future, but I’m determined that before I die I will be “known” for something.

I tend to think of Caleb as the fun guy seen below. He's a cool dude.

1. Which Downton Abbey character is your blog most like? Why?

I like to think 20four12 is most like Mr. Bates. I also want to make it clear that I'm both ashamed and embarrassed for myself that I know enough about Downton Abbey to compare my blog to one of its characters. That show is irritatingly good and I never had any intention of watching it, but alas, that didn't happen.

Mr. Bates is one of those guys who sticks to his routine and then has small moments of humor and intrigue that sort of come out of nowhere. That's what I'm striving for the most with 20four12: consistency with the occasional off-beat/off-track post that sort of takes you by surprise. I'm not sure if I'm quite there yet, but I'm getting closer.

2. Tell us about your reading journey. Definitely make it interesting and don't forget to talk about your Star Wars book collection.

How to make my reading journey interesting... let's see....

I learned to read when I was around 4 years old, and it didn't take long for me to get the hang of it and start reading a lot of stuff on my own. Reading is a pretty big deal in my family, and my parents made a very big effort to make sure none of us kids were ever wanting for something to read next. We went to the library sometimes twice a week during the summer months, and the book fairs at school always provided tons of new books for us. Christmas and birthdays were always occasions I could bank on getting at least four or five new books I wanted. Even the Easter bunny had a tendency to leave books in our Easter baskets. There was even a standing rule when I still lived at home (especially during grades 5-12) that we were supposed to read for at least 30 minutes prior to going to bed each night.

If you were to ask my parents what one of the most frustrating things about bedtime was for them, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to find their answer to be trying to get any of us to stop reading by flashlight late into the night as teenagers. We all devoured books, me especially. After a while, I think mom and dad just figured it wasn't worth it and started letting us read as late as we wanted. Think about it—if your kid was trying to avoid bedtime because he wanted to read a book, what would you do? I intend to just let my kids keep on reading when they get to that point. So many teenagers in the world today don't like to read or hardly know how to read because they were never taught to love it. That's one thing I'll always be most grateful to my parents for: teaching me to love reading.

As for my Star Wars Expanded Universe collection, that started as a result of spending a lot of time visiting doctors and other specialists between the 5th and 8th grades. My dad figured I would need some books during a particular stay at a clinic in Arizona, so we went to a store on the way and I happened to grab every Star Wars book they had on the shelf. By the time I was finished at the clinic, I was hooked and quickly made my parents buy me copies of every book that had already been released as well as all of them that got released in the future. Prior to getting married, I was in possession of every single book in the main Star Wars Expanded Universe novel canon and I had every single one of them at my apartment. It was something like 70 books, many of which were hardcover. 

Once children entered the picture, I had to box them up and hide them away in closets around the apartment and eventually I had to do the previously unthinkable: get rid of them. I refused to do so until I had confirmed that they were all available in some sort of ebook format though, and when I became the proud owner of a Kindle I finally was able to let them go. It was hard though—I absolutely love those books.

Fast forward to the present. I read everything on my Kindle and almost everything I read belongs to the science fiction or fantasy genres. Those genres are sort of my thing, because they provide the best chance of escaping into another world while reading.
3. Blogging has been a long-time goal for you. What has made it so important to you and why have you decided to make it a priority now?

Writing a blog hadn't really crossed my mind until I got married. Once I sort of figured out what blogging was all about, I kind of became obsessed with figuring out how to do it myself. The trouble was that I never had anything really interesting to say and after about a dozen posts I would just leave my blogs behind. I gave up on it for a long time. Then, my lovely wife sort of figured things out and demonstrated that it could be done if I just put my mind to it, I started thinking about trying it again.

Why was writing a blog important to me? There really isn't one specific reason, but wanting to write something played a big part in it, so did the chance to share my opinions (which I have an awful lot of it seems).

It took a little while for me to find my focus, but now that I have (science fiction and fantasy books) things seem to be doing pretty well. I just needed to turn blogging into a habit.

4. Which books have you featured that you would whole-heartedly recommend? Are there any books that the world should steer clear of, as to avoid their terrible badness?

All of my recommendations wind up coming from a science fiction and fantasy background. It's what I read, and it's what I enjoy. If you are into the whole science fiction and fantasy thing I strongly recommend anything by Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, and Terry Brooks. I've never read any of their work that I was disappointed with. I also very strongly encourage people to read works by Timothy Zahn, specifically Icarus Hunt (my favorite book).  

As far as books I've managed to review on 20four12 to this point, I would recommend Kraken by China MiƩville and Cinder by Marissa Meyer (review forthcoming).

Now, let's talk about books that I don't like. I'll be honest, it takes a fair amount of effort for books to turn me against them, but there are a couple that have done so. Sticking with just books I've read this past year, I can say that if anyone tells me they like or want to read the Chaos Walking books by Patrick Ness, they might find my reaction dangerous to their health. I. Hate. Those. Books. My hatred for them runs deep and hot. They were absolutely horrible, and I still hate myself for actually reading all three of them in hopes that the story would redeem itself at some point.

I also really don't recommend The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning, because it wasn't anything like I was expecting it to be and it wound up making absolutely no sense most of the time. It's a prime example that not everything you buy from the 99-cent Kindle Daily Deal is going to turn out to be a winner.

5. You happen to be associated with this blog in a very specific way. What are some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of So Dang Brilliant?

Well, given that So Dang Brilliant is written almost entirely while I'm at the office I'm not sure about most of the behind-the-scene secrets, but I do know some fun facts I guess.

Fun Fact #1: I am Holly's husband. 

Fun Fact #2: While I am a web developer by way of occupation, I don't do much of any work on So Dang Brilliant in that regard—I leave it to my best friend. I feel like it keeps things separated better that way, but I don't know why.

Fun Fact #3: Most posts for So Dang Brilliant are written with Holly's laptop, propped up on an arm of the couch while our children devour some sort of cereal and watch morning cartoons.

Fun Fact #4: Some of the details in the I've Got Mad Love series on So Dang Brilliant are probably not entirely correct. Our versions of the story differs at points. 

Fun Fact #5: I think Holly kills woodland creatures every time she hosts a giveaway and nobody enters, but I have no actual proof. ;P She really, really, really likes giving things away.

Bonus Fun Fact: Holly is awesome at making out, especially the kissing part.

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