CHHR: Please give a brief introduction.
My name is Karly and I live in Vancouver, Canada. I’m new to the online book community but I’ve been enjoying myself so far. I’ve also been attempting to write horror and thriller fiction for the last four years. I don’t have anything published yet, but never say never.
CHHR: When did you start reviewing horror books?
I started reviewing book formally a little over a month ago. I’m very fresh to the scene and I’m still learning some of the do’s and don’ts.
CHHR: What social media platform(s) do you prefer? Why?
I think there’s value in all social media platforms as a business tool, but I personally enjoy using Instagram and Twitter. I started my book reviewing with a #bookstagram account first, which has been incredibly friendly and inviting. Instagram also allows me to start conversations with people based on visuals, such as a pretty stack of books or book related accessories. There is an issue with Instagram’s algorithm and I know many artists and influencers have also complained about this. Hopefully there will be a solution soon, because I know some content isn’t reaching the amount of people it used to. Twitter is great because it’s so recent and live. I can have conversations with people in real time about trending new releases or funny book-related content. There’s also an opportunity to connect more personally with authors and publishing companies on Twitter.
CHHR: Do you like print or eBooks? Or both?
Again, I think there’s value in both. I personally prefer printed books because I love the smell and the feel of a real book in my hands. Plus, there’s something special about seeing your own collection on a shelf and admiring how they look. Physical books can also be signed by authors and have special edition covers. I understand that eBooks are useful when travelling or for people who don’t want to clutter their space with physical books. There is also usually points made about eco-friendly capabilities. Obviously printing books isn’t good for the environment, but neither is mass-producing new technology. I would like to see more work done in that area for both industries.
CHHR: What does your ideal reading space look like?
My ideal reading space is a plush reclining chair that has an extendable footrest. Preferably somewhere quiet and soundproofed. There’s something incredibly satisfying about curling up in a recliner with a good book. Add a soft blanket, a hot cup of tea, and a light drizzle outside to make it perfect.
CHHR: What advice would you give your fellow horror book reviewers?
I’m not sure what advice I can give, being so new to the scene. Maybe to newcomers I would say that it’s not as scary as it looks. Everyone I have interacted with so far has been incredibly welcoming and kind. I’ve learned a lot from following high profile accounts and reviewers, but I make sure that the people I’m learning from are more than just a business machine. It’s good to stay personable and communicate with others in the book community.
CHHR: Do you dog ear or bookmark?
Never dog ear. Blasphemy. I always use a bookmark, scrap of paper, or write the number down somewhere.
CHHR: What is your favorite horror book? Why?
That’s a hard question to answer. I’ve read a lot of great horror books that left me speechless, but I wouldn’t place them in a “favorite” category. Or maybe all of them are favorites. I think I would say Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. It was the first adult horror novel I read, and it came from my dad’s personal collection. I still have his copy of the book on my shelf. Skeleton Crew is full of King’s best short stories – in my opinion – many of which have left me scared and mystified. It was also the first Stephen King novel I read, which led me down a path of Stephen King mania and collecting every book of his I could get my hands on.
CHHR: What is your least favorite horror book? Why?
My least favorite horror book is a lot easier to answer. I would like to preface this answer by saying that I’m not a prude and I don’t think sex in horror is bad. BUT. Richard Laymon seems to surpass sprinkling and just pour the whole bottle on. Laymon’s novel The Woods Are Dark was a torture porn bonanza. I had heard so many good comments about the book, but when I read it I had a hard time getting past the rape and pillaging. I have read some of Laymon’s other novels and they had the same elements, but The Woods Are Dark was particularly heavy handed.
CHHR: What is one thing that bothers you about your site?
That it’s non-existent! I currently use Instagram, Twitter, and GoodReads in order to review books but I have not set up a personal website yet. Why? I’d like to have my own site soon, but for the time being I’m trying to focus on how to write a good review before I commit to a domain and site maintenance.
CHHR: How do you keep up with the books you read?
I admire the frequency with which other book reviewers seem to keep up on new releases, constantly posting new reviews, and diving right into the next book. My style is much slower and mellow. Because of this, I tend to have less books to keep up with and I try to review only books I really want to read. I have an app that tracks my personal collection called MyLibrary which has a “read” and “unread” selection. Plus, I keep track of the reviews I still have to write by making a list on my computer. It also helps to make notes as you read, so if you can’t get to the review for a while you can still rely on your notes.
CHHR: Do you use Goodreads?
I do use GoodReads. I’m a new reviewing member to the site, but I’ve used it for years to track my books and look at new reading suggestions. I think it’s a great tool for reviewers to find like-minded people, compare and contrast reviews, and for writers to be able to assess their work from a huge variety of individuals. I especially enjoy reading the reviews that differ from mine drastically.
CHHR: How do you feel about Amazon cracking down on reviews?
I think that there can be issues with receiving an honest review in exchange for a product, but that I haven’t seen a lot of that happen personally in the book community. I know a lot of great reviewers who seem to be honest with their responses, even if they are reviewing an arc for their input. I hope it makes the system more honest, but I wonder if it might discourage people from using Amazon reviews.
CHHR: What makes a great horror book?
A great horror book is a combination of the real and the surreal. It combines the real-life horrors we face with the impossible and unnatural. All good fiction requires great plot and well thought out characters, but I think a great horror book relies on those even more. A monster can be scary on its own, but when it’s attacking characters we love and relate to then suddenly the horror we feel becomes visceral. There’s still room for the campy and the over-the-top, which is why I love slashers so much, but a really great horror novel goes into the darkest parts of our minds and twists our perceptions. It has to sink it’s claws into your heart and refuse to let go even after the last page.
CHHR: Who is your favorite horror author?
Stephen King is one of my favorites for the main reason that he is an excellent writer. I don’t always find his work scary or addictive, but you can’t deny that he is very good at writing, and that’s an important skill to have first and foremost. I’m also a huge fan of Dan Simmons and R. L. Stine. The later mainly because I grew up on Goosebumps and then Fear Street novels. Mr. Stine has found a way to make horror accessible for all ages and he makes it incredibly fun to read. Chuck Palahniuk is also high up there, for his outrageous ideas and metaphorical body horror.