I’m continuing my interview series with Julie from Bookaroo-Ju. She approaches her reviews with the sharp eye of an author, for she’s penned a number of PNR/UF novels that you can explore here. If you’re looking for a fun, honest, yet critical eye that praises novels but isn’t afraid to call them on their short comings, than Bookaroo-Ju is a must visit site.

1. It used to be that we were admonished not to judge a book by its cover, yet these days most novels sport gorgeous artwork and design. With so much eye candy to choose from, can you nominate your three recent favorites, and explain what in your opinion makes for an excellent cover so that it stands out from the pack?

I agree that a book shouldn’t be judged solely on its cover, and I, in fact, rarely used to take covers into consideration when buying—but then most of my choices would revolve around recommendations from other readers I trust. However, I think covers are evolving. They’re becoming more interesting, more eye-catching, more risqué in some cases even, and I find myself checking them out more and more. And yes, I have even bought a book based on its cover. So, here are my top three (it was very hard to narrow it down, btw).

  1. Figured I may as well get the most embarrassing one out of the way first as it was chosen for totally shallow reasons. So my first ‘judged by its cover’ book was: The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton. Check it out. Need I say more? 😉
  2. Next up, I have a second ‘purchased coz I love the cover’: Partials. Love the colours. Love the fact we can’t see the character’s face (because I like to make up my own mind how they look). Love the way it seems to portray this one female versus an entire city (which in effect it is when you read what’s inside). Love how it gives off a dystopian feel as well as a sense of foreboding thanks to the sky above, the evident wind, the long path stretched ahead of her … Yeah, I liked this one a LOT!
  3. And thirdly … now, admittedly, this one was a tough cookie, because I hummed from The Selection (coz I love the colours and it’s just so pretty whilst being slightly creepy all at the same time), to Monument 14 (because I only have to look at that cover and I want to know what’s happening/gonna happen to those peeps on the front), to Throne of Glass (coz that is one kick-a$$ cover—the UK one, anyhoo), but I eventually settled on: Anna Dressed in Blood. Why? Well, because the splash of colour across the greyscale background is pure awesomeness, the image holds intrigue and creepiness and mystery and 100% presentiment, as well as the artwork being simply beautiful …. Dude! I don’t even care what the story’s about. I just want that cover on my shelf. 🙂 

Phil: I agree. I purchase most of my books either through recommendations, or because I already know the author. Good covers will arrest my attention, but thus far none has actually made me actually purchase the novel in question. Though of course a striking cover remains in your memory, so that it almost begins to feel familiar when you see it around. I think that main role a cover will play is in setting the tone of a book I have already decided to buy, making me more or less excited about my own decision. I totally agree with Bookaroo-Ju here though in that covers seem to have become savvier and more on the mark of late, something we can all applaud and enjoy!

2. Everybody enjoys different amounts of romance in their novels. Some want plenty of bodice ripping and graphic descriptions, while others are content for the action to take place off-page. Where do you fall on the spectrum? Is a strong romantic element necessary in a novel for it to really hold your interest? Can you nominate a novel that contains an example of your favorite flavor of romance?

I don’t have a particular preference for ‘bodice ripping’ but then neither do I prefer the sex scenes to be off screen, so to speak. I’m not a big fan of erotic romance/erotica, but if I’m reading a romance novel, and the author deemed an intimate scene to be important enough to include, then there’s nothing worse than the characters heading off camera and the reader being left to their own imagination. This bugs me quite a lot. Mostly because an intimate scene that is well written, and specific to the characters, can tell us a lot about the character(s), as well as a lot about their relationship. However, that being said, I read a LOT of young adult fiction lately, which very often doesn’t include intimacy beyond snogging and hip gripping and hair grabbing, etc—and it remaining at this kind of heat level bothers me not one iota. So, I guess, in short: it depends on the story and whether or not the scene has a place in there, whether or not the scene stays true to the character, and whether or not it’s treated with the importance it should be as warranted by the story.

Phil: Excellent point on the potential a love scene has for furthering character development. Also, I couldn’t agree more with the scene needing to be suited to the novel, and am glad to see that Bookaroo-Ju will accept the presence or absence of such a scene as long as it jives with the book’s nature. Great points.

3. Diversity in genre literature has been a contentious topic these past couple of years. Some hold that authors should explore different cultures, races, and sexual orientations, while others believe that authors should ‘stick to what they know’ and not appropriate from other cultures. What do you think? Do you applaud an author for trying something different, even if they don’t get it quite right?

I believe this is a very fine line to tread, to be honest. Especially if an author is wandering into different races, cultures, etc—as well as, in the extremity, if straight women write M/M erotica—which happens a lot. I haven’t read any of the latter mentioned to judge but I do wonder how something like that can be written with authenticity without the author having experienced it—which will always be an impossible act. But then one could argue, in that case, there could never be authenticity in dystopia stories, as none of the authors have experienced a ‘New World’. This is a can of worms I’d rather not open, but I do believe to write true emotion well, you need to have experienced true emotion; just as to write true love well, you need to have experienced true love, and true love comes in many forms for authors to draw their experiences from. But if an author does decide to bite the bullet and write about a culture/orientation/way of life they have absolutely no experience with, they have to be prepared for the negativity they’ll inevitably face if they do get it wrong and those in the know spot it—because readers can get incredibly angry if facts are askew.

Phil: Writing another culture, gender, or race can feel like walking across a minefield. No matter how carefully you do your research, you simply never know where you may place a foot wrong. I agree with Bookaroo-Ju here, in that as an author you simply need to be ready for that negativity when it comes if you decide to take the plunge. Should that prevent you from trying? I don’t think so–after all, the opposite of representing the world as a diverse place is to portray it as segregated, as you only describe people like yourself. Still–it’s a path fraught with danger, and beyond doing all the research you can, you simply have to be ready for negativity.

Thanks again to Julie for participating in this interview feature, and be sure to check out her blog!