Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Meet the Panelists : Nettle from The Puck in the Midden

Only 3 days until the Cybils Awards are announced!  To get you excited, I'm featuring a Fantasy & Science Fiction panelist (or two) every day until the awards are announced.  For our third installment of Meet the Panelists, I'd like you to meet Nettle from The Puck in the Midden .  Nettle was so much fun to work with because she always brought tons of insight and liveliness to our email exchanges.  To give a nod to her blog's namesake, the world of Cybils paneling (is paneling a word??) would have been a very gray place without her.

When did you start blogging and why?
I've been blogging for nearly eight years now (I seriously can't believe it's been that long) but most of that time has been a much more personal sort of blog.  I've been book blogging for about two years, though.  I started because I read so much that I wanted a way to keep track of what I read and how I felt about it--and it became a really interesting conversation about YA and kidlit and what makes a good book.
What was your favorite part about being a Cybils panelist?
I'd be lying if I didn't say the free books are wonderful :D.  But seriously, my real favorite part was getting to discuss the books that I was reading and loving in real time with my fellow panelists.  I really lucked out with a group of six other interesting, opinionated and fun book bloggers--my favorite days were the ones where we were having animated email conversations back and forth, discussing the books that got us the most excited.  Especially when we disagreed.
I also really loved discovering some books that I probably never would have read otherwise.  Rachel Neumeier's The City in the Lake, Lauren Mechling's Dream Girl, Ellen Booraem's The Unnameables--just a few of the books that surprised and delighted me.  There were all sorts of books that I discovered because of the Cybils.
Any advice for future panelists?
Be sure you can devote lots and lots and lots of time to reading before signing up for this.  In the past, I have done NaNoWriMo every year, and I was still planning on doing it this year--up until the second days of November when I realized that I was trying to do two insane projects in one month: write 50,000 words of a novel AND read as many of 160 books as I could in two months.  It was literally keeping me up at night worrying about how I could manage both (not to mention my job and real life, and little things like that!)  So I made the decision to put my beloved NaNo aside for this year and to devote my energies to reading as much as I can.
I don't regret that decision for a second.  But I would have been better off if I had planned it a little better going in.
What books are you looking forward to this year?
One of the books I was most looking forward to--Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner--just hit the shelves, and it totally lived up to my expectations.  The other book I'm excited for is Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  (Are you noticing a theme?  I'm a sucker for any kind of post-apocalyptic or dystopic fiction.)  I am also hugely psyched for Sarah Beth Durst's new book Ice, based on the East of the Sun, West of the Moon fairy tale, and the sequel to Patrick Ness's heartbreaking Knife of Never Letting Go.  And of course, Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Why do you blog about teen books?
The majority of my reading material is teen and middle-grade fiction, so of course that's what I write about.  I find that these days especially are the golden age of YA fiction.  There's so much available right now, so much that's stellar and well-written and just really original and groundbreaking.  I'm really enjoying watching talented writers stretch and expand the boundaries of the genre.
If you were a Cybils judge, which category would you like to judge?
This is an easy one for me.  Fantasy and Science Fiction for sure.  I'd be more than happy to judge YA Fiction or Middle Grade Fiction too, but FSF has always been my first love, and two and a half months reading nothing but has only proven to me that this genre is my first home.
Where is your favorite place to read?
On the train!  I have an hour commute to and from work every day, and that's prime reading time for me.
Having read so many science fiction and fantasy books, do you have any suggestions for authors in those genres?
Less advice and more request: more post-apocalyptic fiction, please!  I love books that destroy the world, and books that take place in the aftermath of the destruction, and books that try to rebuild the world.  Oh, and zombies.  I think there will always be room for more excellent, original works of fiction with zombies.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and Cybils wisdom with us, Nettle!

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