Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBAW: New Treasure - Interview: Erica of The Olive Reader

One of my favorite features of BBAW is the Interview Swap, especially when it's done well.  I was assigned to interview Erica of The Olive Reader, the blog for the Harper Perennial imprint at Harper Collins (the olive refers to the imprint's logo).  Erica is a marketing manager and blogger extraordinaire.  I hope that you caught Erica's stint on That's How I Blog! on September 8th because it was a great chance to get to know her.  I've asked her some bookish questions -- though she still managed to answer Chipotle to one of them!  Enjoy!

Of the last ten books you've read, which one did you like best?

This is a tough question because I’ve had a really good run lately—especially good for me considering a bunch of them were books I’ll be promoting this winter! So I’m going to have to give a multi-part answer. For being unlike anything else I’ve read and yet hitting on lots of things I love (haunted houses plus family stories), Blake Butler’s There Is No Year (out this April). For bringing me to tears multiple times, both from the actual story as well as the beauty of the writing, Tana French’s Faithful Place (out now). For sheer solid, I-liked-everything-about-this-book-ness, Jessica Anya Blau’s Drinking Closer to Home (out in January.)

Which author(s) are you the biggest evangelist for (besides job-related ones ... unless you really love them regardless)?

I do really love some of them! I try not to play favorites, at least not in any public forums, but there are definitely some I force on all my friends. And there are some, like Bryan Charles (Hold Onto Me Tightly As If I Knew the Way, an amazing coming of age story) that are Harper Perennial authors but who I evangelized for way before it was my job. (There’s a reason why my signed copy of that book calls me Bryan’s #1 fan.) But in terms of non-work-related authors, I’ve forced Tana French and In the Woods onto more people than I can count. And I will preach the gospel of Kathleen Finneran’s The Tender Land (a memoir of a woman whose younger brother committed suicide) till the day I die. Seriously, please email me if you’re reading this and want to know more about any of those three books.

Which book from your shelves would you be most likely to pull out and re-read on a rainy day?

I never re-read! Well, almost never. I re-read a few books recently when I had read them many months before and then did blog talk radio interviews with the authors. But otherwise, I have such an endless to-be-read pile that it feels like too much of a luxury. Even when I’ve re-read a book, it’s usually been a classic or something from my childhood/young adulthood. So I’d have to say if I were going to re-read, it would be a Christopher Pike novel. I will re-read all of them, someday.

Do you still own any books from when you were a kid?  If you do, tell us about them.  If you don't, why not?

See above re: Christopher Pike! I have almost all his books. I grew up in a small apartment in Brooklyn, so keeping all my childhood books wasn’t really feasible. As a kid, I kept bags of them in my grandmother’s basement. When she died when I was in college, we had to clear it out and my mom limited me to one bag’s worth or so. So out went my massive sweet valley high, baby-sitters club, and other collections. I kept all the Christopher Pike and a few other favorites, and I’ve actually got to get out to my mom’s house sometime soon to go through what’s left, so we’ll see what other surprises I’ll find!

If you were limited to only reading short stories or chunksters (600+ pages) for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Short stories all the way! Ideally I’d be limited to books of around 250-300 pages, but I’d much rather read shorter works than longer. I love that feeling of finishing something in one or two sittings, and that’s just never going to happen with a huge book. And I’m always suspicious—did it REALLY have to be that big—even before I open one.

What is one cover-art element that makes you most likely to pick up a book at a shop

Either something really graphic and eye-catching or a straight-on face shot of a girl. Really I’ll pick up almost anything that looks cool or that I’ve vaguely heard of, because I’m a cover copy junkie (I used to write it for a living) and I love reading it. I don’t often pick up books where the cover features only part of a woman’s body and not her face. It’s my own little pet peeve. I know many people don’t like to have the cover tell them too much about what the character looks like, but I’m the opposite.

Do you have a good local library?  Do you use it regularly?

My closest library is currently under renovation. I’m not too far from the main Brooklyn Public Library branch, which is a beautiful place to visit and explore, but I have to admit I don’t go much. I get a lot of books at work, and a lot of books through just being in publishing (knowing people at other houses, etc), and a lot of books from swapping with people, so when I really want a book and I can’t get it in any of those ways it’s really a huge treat for me to go to the bookstore and buy it brand-new.

Which author would you choose to write a fictional account of your life (realistic or not)?

Oh this is a tough one! I’m torn between Simon Van Booy, who would describe my life so beautifully that it would make even me appreciate it more, and Lionel Shriver, who would be tough on me (or the character of me).

Which is your favorite book-based film (any genre)?

I’m not a huge fan of book-based films. If I’ve read the book already, the movie rarely lives up to my expectations. If I haven’t, then when I do read the book I can’t stop thinking about the movie. So for that reason, I’m going to go with Twilight. Neither the book nor the movie are favorites of mine, but I was able to enjoy them both on their own merits.

What is another love in your life besides books?

Cats! Chipotle! Running! My boyfriend! TV! At various times I’ve had blogs centered on three out of five of those things. In all seriousness, while I wholeheartedly love all those things, I’d say my other main “love” is writing.

I've had a great time getting to know Erica and I hope that you head right over to The Olive Reader to check out some of Erica's witty and fun posts.  She even gives away books now and then so there's really nothing to lose!  She's also on Twitter as @harperperennial.

Pleased to make your acquaintance,

In a random act of unnecessary disclosure, I will tell you that Harper Collins is under the same parent company as the company where my husband works but I'm doubting the BBAW folks knew that so, well, whatever!


  1. Having just finished Tana French's "In The Woods," I'll second that! I thought it was AMAZING and so incredibly well done. (But if you need all loose ends tied up ... beware!) I'm going to read the rest of her books as soon as I can my grubby little paws on them .... good thing my birthday is coming up!

    Love the question about what author would you have write your life story! I think Lionel Shriveer is an awesome choice ... though I do agree she would present a warts and all view.

    Fun interview!

  2. Great questions and answers! Erica's enthusiasm for books really comes through. And I'm also a huge fan of Tana French!

  3. Great interview and it was nice to meet you both!

    Re-reading books from teenaged years--I never thought of that. Wonder if those Christopher Pike and RL Stine books would be just as scary now? :)

  4. Lovely interview! I haven't read Bryan Charles' Hold Onto Me Tightly As If I Knew the Way, but I've been convinced that I need to give it a try. If you're that passionate about it, I have high hopes that I could be, too. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I'd definitely choose chunksters: I love the relaxing feeling of being able to really disappear in a book and know it won't finish too early! :) I love short stories too, though, so it'd be a hard choice.

  6. Jenners - I'm going to try and get to In the Woods in the next couple of weeks. I can't stand not being in on it any longer!

    Eva - I would choose chunksters too. There's always something new to find and they could last you forever!

  7. I think how easy it is to get to your nearest(currently open) library is one factor in whether I go or not! I can definitely see how many books you own already would determine library usage, too!

  8. Definitely, Valerie! I also think parents tend to use the library more because kids need an infinite supply of new stimulation.