By Terra Whiteman
Posted September 7, 2011
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Bonnie Sparks is the head book blogger over at Bookish Ardour, one of the more popular book blogging websites in the writing and reading community. She spends countless hours reading and reviewing small press and indie authors, and featuring them on her site for curious and perspective readers.
As you may recall, Bonnie also wrote a rather enlightening guest post last month on 1889 Labs, pertaining to strength vs. intellect in protagonists of fictional stories. And, since Miss Sparks spends a large chunk of her personal time supporting the indie fiction community, I think it’s time to return the favor.
This week I had a chat with Bonnie Sparks about her life and passion for literature.
TW: Tell us about yourself. Who are you? Where are you?
BS: I’m a writer and book reviewer based in Australia, in the process of working on my first novel, and an advocate for LGBT causes and raising awareness for lesser-known illnesses.
TW: Tell us about your book blog, ‘Bookish Ardour’.
BS: Bookish Ardour is mainly a speculative fiction book blog I began in 2009. I use the term mainly because speculative fiction is what I read and reviewed predominately, but we also review classic literature, LGBT friendly fiction, non-fiction on occasion, graphic novels, and poetry.
BA was first created as a means for me to post about the books I read as well as ramble about other bookish subjects. I then began reviewing on a regular basis and accepting requests from authors. In the last couple of months I’ve been slowly turning BA into a team effort in order to concentrate more on my writing. I’m still looking for more members for the team, but so far it’s working out really well.
TW: Judging from your book blog, you are extremely passionate about literature. What brought on this undying love for books?
BS: I know for me books are not only a wonderful source of entertainment, but also open windows to many divergent worlds and perspectives. People can learn a great deal from reading and it doesn’t matter if books are non-fiction or fiction, we’re able to learn from both.
Part of my childhood was a little too serious and real for a young mind to cope with so stories were a great way to have a break from reality, as they are for a lot of people, and I became quite the escapist. On the other hand, in some areas of my childhood, I was sheltered to a degree and reading was another way of learning about different elements to the world. At times I still am an escapist for those reasons these days, but I believe my love of books is tied into being a writer and storyteller as well. At least I find it helps with writing.
TW: Who are your favorite authors of all time?
BS: H.G. Wells and Anne Rice are the top favourites of all time. I’ve been a fan of Anne Rice since I was 14 and never wavered. H.G. Wells on the other hand is an author I found later and I love his work more for his ideas rather than his writing. Patrick Rothfuss, Anthony Burgess, Stephen King, Tobsha Learner, Bram Stoker, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley are definitely up there as well.
TW: Other than reading, what other hobbies do you have?
BS: Gaming. I go through gamer geek phases when I need a break from books. I also enjoy photography, which I’m getting back into, and dabbling in other artistic areas. Creating something people can use, support forums for example, and working on projects every so often. I currently run my own book club as well and help others to set up their own.
TW: As you know, the book world is changing. For the first time ever, e-books are beginning to outsell print. What are your thoughts on the e-book vs. print topic?
BS: I read eBooks already and it’s definitely a medium I’m contemplating for my own novels, but at the same time a small part of me protests against them. In how the world is moving with this digital age making stories not only more accessible, but also possibly attractive to people who can’t be bothered to pick up a paperback, is fantastic. If digitising stories can get people, who wouldn’t read otherwise, reading than who are we to fault it? What’s more there’s the added bonus of saving trees, which is brilliant, and the amount of space eBooks free up.
The reason a small part of me protests against eBooks is because, like a lot of other bibliophiles out there, I adore books for their physical form as well as what they contain. There is nothing akin to having that book in your hands, feeling the paper, the smell you can instantly recognise, and I admit I love the aesthetics of books sitting in a bookcase.
I’ve spent plenty of time in bookstores and libraries over the years and have very fond memories of doing so. They’re both places I’m comfortable with on top of representing what books are to me; a collection of knowledge and imagination. I would be quite sad if they were to become non-existent.
At the same time, I don’t consider stores and print dying out as something to really worry about. I like to believe there will always be those die-hard fans of print out there, I don’t see why both mediums can’t exist side by side, and a story is not about its appearance. While I’m able to understand those readers out there who are passionately against the popularity of books, I believe that fight it is a waste of time, and we need to adapt.
TW: Aside from reading, do you write? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
BS: Yes I do. I’m currently in the middle of writing a dystopian novel, which I’ve been working on since late last year. I began it during NaNoWriMo and I think it’s safe to say that playing hours of Fallout just before influenced me, but I’ve loved dystopia for years so maybe not. Unfortunately my health has gotten in the way of continuing that story, but I’m now working on getting back on track with it and hope to finish by the end of this year.
I’m also working on a few short story collections and have other writing projects on the backburner, all of which are speculative fiction. I started out writing horror, but I’ve branched out and don’t wish to stick to one genre under the speculative fiction umbrella.
TW: Finally, what do you think books contribute to the human world? What purpose do they serve personally, culturally and societally?
BS: I wonder what books don’t contribute? Enjoyment is only the tip of the ice burg. There’s also the element of escapism, which I personally feel is healthy to an extent because we all need a form of time out every now and then. There’s the ability to educate, incite passion, broaden a person’s mind, and I believe feeding your imagination can help you in your daily life, whether it’s coming up with a solution to a problem, or attempting to see all sides to a story.
On a broader level, ignorance is something that is crippling society; it has been since human kind came into existence. People need a way to emotionally connect and stories have the power to do so while helping to open up a person’s mind. For instance, I already knew about the Holocaust when I read The Diary of Anne Frank in my teens, but when you’re not experiencing the event yourself you’re not always able to understand the extent of how horrifying it is for someone, nor what they’re thinking at the time. Granted reading about it is not similar to being there and never will be, but I believe reading a person’s thoughts and feelings can give another both an insight of what others go through and help one realise we’re all individuals with a shared makeup.
Reading is another way of educating and call me idealistic, but I trust books as a way to help remove ignorance.
Bonnie Sparks is the admin, editor, and a reviewer at Bookish Ardour in between being a struggling writer working on her first novel. You can find Bonnie on Twitter (@Bonnie_Sparks), her personal/writing blog, GoodReads, and Facebook.
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