Today I’d like to do a something a little different. On occasion I run into authors and in doing so like to do interviews about them. This time I’ve run into a blogger by the name of Peter Younghusband. His blog is dedicated solely to Christian fiction. Bloggers provide an important function in that they help to promote authors through their blog to their readers and sometimes provide reviews. I met Peter while browsing through Amazon’s Shelfari. When I saw his profile what impressed me was the sheer volume of novels he had read. One need only visit his blog or check out his presence on Shelfari or Goodreads to see what I mean. Today’s blog is going to be a bit long, but there is much to takeaway from Peter’s experience, and those that enjoy blogging, reading christian fiction and or authors will take something away from today’s interview.
Peter gave me a generous review when I solicited him about my own work sevral months ago, and after exchanging emails, and dialogue I just felt that he was someone that people should hear more about. If you enjoy Christian speculative fiction. Peter simply put is a man who can recommend a book. Having said that welcome Peter. Lets get started!
So tell us about your blog. Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?
My blog is called Peter Younghusband’s Christian Fiction Review. Address is www.christianfictionreviewguru.blogspot.com.au.
I started it when an author, Steve Goodwin (http://www.stevegoodwin.org/) contacted to say thanks for a very comprehensive review of his first book. He had investigated my other reviews on Amazon and suggested that I should start a blog as he believed my reviews, being longer and more comprehensive would encourage authors and readers alike. It is targeted towards anyone who enjoys the genres of:
spiritual warfare involving angels and demons,
edgy speculative Christian fiction
horror from a Biblical point of view
Christian special ops, military
Nephilim related (Genesis 6:4)
Christian science fiction or fantasy
Christian time travel
What were some of the biggest challenges in getting it off the ground?
Getting used to HTML! My initial introduction to setting up the blog from was from Steve Goodwin whom I mentioned above who is also a software programmer and he was talking me through this set up over Facebook chat. I got so frustrated that I told him to forget it. It was only talking to another Christian at work about books, reviewing and blogging that he encouraged me to give it another go. So I did and this time round, I understand the HTML and got it off the ground.
What advice would you give new bloggers?
Do you homework first. Read about the format you are thinking about, whether Google Blogger or WordPress or any other format. Do you want to use a free service or paid? Check out their features. This will help you decide what is best for your blog. Don’
t give up. Seek advice from friends, colleagues that may know about blogging and the different formats or programs such as Google blogger or WordPress, search the Net, buy a book on blogging (and /or HTML), ask other bloggers. Blogging does not have to be rocket science! Keep your content relevant and appropriate.
Tell us about your journey of faith. How did you become a Christian?
I was brought up Catholic. Very sheltered upbringing due to having much older parents than my peers. When I started my Registered Nurse training at 19 years, I did not cope with life being away from home. The other male and female student nurses were involved in smoking, drinking, partying, swearing, recreational drugs all of which I had no exposure to growing up. It was not long before I was engaged in some of those activities just to fit in and it went against every part of me. I was not happy. We had a student join our second year and he was the only one whom I felt comfortable and safe with. He started witnessing to me about God and getting out of this destructive lifestyle. I spent my holidays that year on his parents farm and by the time I returned I had accepted Jesus and been born again. However, there was no follow up from a church when I started my studies again and I fell back to my old ways. Another Christian nurse I worked with invited me to his church and at the altar call I rededicated my life to God. I stayed at this church and when I left the hospital a few years later to start my career as an Occupational Health Nurse, I met my wife who was my boss at the time! That was in 1987 and we have been married since and now have two daughters, 22 and 19 respectively. We now attend a Presbyterian Church.
Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?
My first favourite author was Roger Elwood whose book Dwellers (1990, now out of print) which introduced me to the subject of the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:4. This also introduced me reading Christian fiction. HIs other books, Angelwalk, Fallen Angel and Darien introduced me to angels and demons. I then read the first two novels of Frakn Peretti that introduced me to spiritual warfare. Other favourite authors are Sigmund Brouwer, Jess Hanna, Steve Goodwin, Tim Downs, Alton Gansky, Ted Dekker, Bill Myers, Randy Alcorn, Jerry B Jenkins, Guy Stanton III, Ian Acheson, Graham Carter. Mike Dellosso, Mark Carver, David Alderman, Joseph Max Lewis, Dante Forstson, Cary Green, Clifton Voshen, Gary Rodenius, Timothy Tron, Bryan M Litfin, John Lyman, Robin Parrish, Joanna Penn, Tom Pawlik, Martin Roth, Joel C Rosenberg, Michael J Webb, James Somers,
Oh, and I have come across this new author who happens to have the same name as yourself!! LOL
I have already mentioned some of the genres I love to read and these authors all write in these.
Are there any other ventures similar to your blog you might be looking at?
I have been invited to be on an author’s Radio show to discuss my blog and anything Christian fiction! I would not mind doing the same in the future. Interviewing authors and reviewers. It has also been suggested that I try video reviewing, but I would need to invest in the appropriate equipment for this; the same for the radio show. But food for thought for the future.
When did you start blogging?
As I mentioned above, it was my second attempt that got the blog up an running and this was in October 2013.
What’s some of the best experiences you have had in your blogging experience?
When a new author who does not have any reviews or very few contacts me and states my review was a great encouragement and confirmed to them that they had made the right decision to become an author. Or that they say that my review captured what they wanted the reader to get out of the story. When they ask you for your permission to use your review on their website or in any promotional activities for their book. Also, when they ask you to become a beta reader for future books. One author states that my blog is the place for him to go to for his next novel to read. Having an author request a review from a recommendation from an author you have reviewed. Word of mouth is a great advertiser!!
Also, when fellow readers buy the book you have reviewed based mainly on your review and they also state that if they want to find a good book, they will come to the blog and check out the blog archives.
Any negative experiences you would like to avoid?
Having to write a review that is not positive or uplifting, but does reflect the problems with the book/author and you have to be honest, and deciding what is the best action: publish to the blog for all the world to see knowing this could upset the author, especially if it is a new author, or contact the author out of the public eye. Despite most authors wanting you to be honest and will be ok receiving negative feedback even on a blog or elsewhere, it is never easy. This is most unavoidable. An honest reviewer is an author’s greatest asset.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Apart from the Bible, fiction genres of spiritual warfare or any Christian fiction no matter what genre, that educates, uplifts, and honors God. Some examples are Methusela’s Table by Gary Rodenius and Bruecke To Heaven by Timothy Tron, The Warrior Kind series by Guy Stanton III, the Chiveis Trilogy by Bryan M Litfin, The Road To Hell and Adverse Possession by Jess Hanna. All debut authors and all have had a huge impact on me.
What book are you reading now?
The Seal of the King by Ralph Smith, debut author, first in a trilogy. Christian fantasy, spiritual warfare. This was free on Amazon on March 29 and I was very much attracted to this based on it being fantasy, spiritual warfare and majority of reviews 4/5 or 5/5 stars. Later that day I received contact from the author requesting me to review his book! He had google searched “Christian fiction review” and my blog name came up! We were both surprised at how this came to happen on the same day and realised it was not a coincidence! I had about 5 books in the queue to review before getting to this. Ralph has been very patient!
Are there any new bloggers/authors that have grasped your interest?
Yourself, and Dante Fortson as both bloggers and authors. Gary Rodenius and Timothy Tron as new authors.
Have you thought about writing a novel yourself?
I have thought about writing a novel and it has been suggested by family, friends, fellow readers and some of the authors I have chatted with. I have not ruled this out and I guess it needs to be in God’s timing. I know now is not the right time but I know it would be good to think about what I would like to do.
Do you have any advice for other bloggers and writers?
Keep your blog uncluttered. I have seen a few that are so cluttered with adverts, banners from other sites they belong to or support and other widgets/gadgets or backgrounds that it can be hard to navigate the site and see what you have come to see. I find this very frustrating and I usually don’t stay long, return or subscribe/follow. Keep everything you add appropriate and relevant to the purpose of your blog.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Writers spend months researching writing, developing their characters, plot and everything else necessary to complete the novel ready for us to read and enjoy, be informed, educated or inspired. The only feedback they receive to show whether they have achieved their aims and successfully executed their talent and passion is reader feedback. Readers are a writers best asset in this regard. I would encourage every reader to write a review to show how much they enjoyed or did not enjoy the writer’s work. It can be our way to say thanks for a great novel and affirmation of a great or promising talent or that the author needs to improve their craft. Honesty is the key here. If you want some guidelines on how to write a review go here. A review also encourages readers to choose quality books, increase their exposure to new genres, new authors and promotes an author and their work to readers who may not be convinced of its description on the back of the book or on a book website such as Amazon.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your blog to life
Even before I started the blog, if I felt it necessary, I would research the author by going to their website either their author or book website, their Amazon author page, their blog or any other internet site connected with them as author. I would read the previous reviews of their books. I would contact the author for further information on events or concepts that intrigue me or are causing me to stumble reading the book and enjoying it or I just want more information. See the last two posts in my blog for examples of this, Methuselah’s Table and Bruecke To Heaven.
That is me; I am not saying or suggesting that anyone else needs to do this to be a reviewer. Most reviewers just stay within the confines of the content of the book for their review and that is fine and on a basic level all an author requires and wants.
Are you part of any associations, blogging or otherwise? If not any plans to be?
I am on the Judging Panel for The Crossover Alliance Anthology;a collection of short written pieces that represent edgy Christian speculative fiction. The Crossover Alliance exists to bring attention to literary works that merge Christian themes, speculative fiction, and real-world content.I subscribe to and/or follow the following blogs:
Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers:
A group of readers and writers who enjoy edgy fiction, and in particular edgy Christian fiction.
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Steve Goodwin: Author, Programmer
Australiasian Christian Writers:
Around the World of Inspired Fiction
Mike Dellosso: Wide Eyed Fiction
David N Alderman: Author of Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction
Well, there you have it, Donovan! Thanks for this experience! I appreciate it.
It’s been my pleasure Peter, thanks for coming by and sharing with my readers!
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