Let Me Introduce You To…Voracious Readers #3 (Lisa Howard)

So we’re back to our special series of interviews with voracious readers just like you. To recap, one day I got to thinking about this blog in terms of current trends in publishing and the emergence of independent authors versus the classic big six published authors and wondered where avid readers stand on all these new trends. I had spent so much time concentrating on interviews with other authors and celebrities, I thought it was about time to talk to some of these readers in person.

And the results have been extremely enlightening so far. With our interviews with Jennifer Antle and Aislynn Turnbull, I see that readers are much more open to discovering authors from less traditional sources. At the same time, there are very strict standards that these readers are looking for in their fiction.
So, I wanted to proceed and see what other readers had to say to the same list of ten questions. I’ve been absolutely fascinated with the responses. So today, I wanted to introduce you to voracious reader #3, Lisa Howard. Once again, Lisa is one person who writers and publishers both should be paying attention to. She has read enough books to fill several libraries and she knows what she’s talking about. [Plus, she’s a huge fan of Agent Pendergast…so you know she’s awesome!] So without any further ado, let me introduce you Lisa Howard:
1) If you had to choose your favorite genre of fiction, what would it be? Why do you prefer it over others?
Horror… I have to have my horror!  Really, I like my horror with a side of adventure. Or is that an adventure/ thriller with a side of horror?  Throw in a some adventure, a coupla  cryptids , a megalodon or two and I’m in Hawg heaven. I’ve read and reread The Stand and the Witching Hour. I love Rice’s, The Mummy, admittedly not the normal favorite of hers. Koontz’ Watchers and Seize the Night are two books that are always in the back of my mind on my list of all time favorites.     I am having a little trouble getting on the zombie bandwagon, though, and main stream vampire stories are starting to give me a slight case of indigestion, so they are off my diet for awhile…
2) If you had to choose your LEAST favorite genre of fiction, what would it be? Why do you not prefer it over the others?
Romance novels. Seriously, how many ways can you tell the same happy ending? Now that’s not to say I don’t like the occasional historical romance, but it has to be along the scope of M.M. Kayes’  The Far Pavilions.
3) What is your favorite book (or series of books)? Tell us a little about it. Why does it appeal to you so much? Does your favorite book correlate with your favorite author?
Now, this is where I’m torn. Do I go with  James Clavell’s Shogun series or Steve Alten’s Meg series? Both are awesome and permanently reside on my book shelve. But they are both from different periods in my life, I believe we evolve or devolve, as in my case, as readers. I also find that mood and stress level effect what I read, being the 48 year old mother of a 7 year old tornado girl-child, I need to be able to lay it down often and pick it up often. Okay let see, if I was absolutely pushed to pick my very favorite book, at cost of life, I would have to say it has to be Michener’s Centennial, which doesn’t go along with anything I’ve said and isn’t even close to who my favorite author is…..
4) When you’re considering reading a book by an author you’ve never heard of, what are the primary factors you look for to help you make a decision? Give us a few factors and then rank them in terms of most important to least.
What is written on the dust cover or the back of the book and it has about 25 seconds to grab my attention before I move on. So many books, so little time! Quite often my attention is grabbed by the cover enough to pick it up and give it a try, one that stands out, would have to be The Ocean Dark by Jack Rogan. Lastly, suggestions by others, my oldest daughter told me to read, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien and I quite enjoyed it. But that’s not a common occurrence.
5) Who is your favorite fictional character? What is it about this character that you like so much?
Special Agent Pendergast. He is such unlikely hero. The epitome of an odd duck. I have yet to completely figure out this character, too many hidden secrets! That in itself keeps drawing me back to the series. If there is something else to find out about a character, some mystery or juicy intrigue, just around the corner I can’t give up until I root it all out. I felt like I had learned all I could about Eve Duncan and Alex Cross, so I have bid them good-bye.
On a side note, in a weird way, I was also very fond of Angel!
6) What is your take on the whole Amazon vs. the world thing? By this, I mean, there’s a great deal of buzz about how Amazon is trying to establish a monopoly and corner the entire book industry. They’re probably the biggest book seller. They started their own publishing company. And now they’re trying to get authors to sell their ebooks exclusively through them. How do you feel about this? Does it concern you? Why or why not?
I surrendered to a Kindle at Christmas this year. I never thought I would be able to give up my “real” books, but I love it! On the side of a Kindle owner I’m happy with the accessibility of just about anything I want to read. That being said, I don’t think they should have a monopoly. “Absolute power, corrupts absolutely” I really believe that competition keeps companies, at least, a little honest. They don’t have the fear of somebody under cutting them, they don’t have the fear of somebody else offering us something that they won’t. They have to strive harder if there is something else to gain.
7) How important is a great book cover to you? What are some of your favorite book covers?
Cover art is very important to me. There have been numerous occasions that was the lone reason I picked up a book. Actually, too numerous to count. That’s how I found Steve Alten’s Meg series years ago, I like all of his, but I have to say Hell’s Aquarium is my favorite. The cover on Alter of Eden led me to James Rollins work, which I love. The cover art on Pulse and Instinct stick with me. The Ocean Dark, Temple, Beneath the Dark Ice, Black Rain and Fragment were all read because of the cover art. Of course there have been more than a few cases of don’t judge a book by its cover also. Thankfully, I don’t remember too may of them.
8) Whenever you look at a book, you’ll often see blurbs written by other authors endorsing that particular book. Blurbs like “A rollercoaster thrill ride that will leave you on the edge of your seat.” How seriously do you take these blurbs? Are you more prone to read a book if your favorite author has endorsed it or not? Why?
If the story line and cover art have captured my attention but I’m still not quite sold, I do take the “blurbs” into account. If someone who’s work I really like, endorses the book, then I have been known to take  a leap of faith, which usually has a happy ending. I have also kissed a few frogs…. For me the “blurbs” serve an entirely different purpose, though. I see them as resource of new writers. When I find someone I haven’t heard of or read before, on another authors work, I go investigate. I have found tons of new-to-me writers like this. If I’m not mistaken, one of these  ways  is how I found you. So lets just hang on to the “blurbs“, shall we.
9) We live in an interesting time in regards to books and publishing. Indie authors are becoming just as successful as the big named authors by big named publishers. Have you ever read any books by indie authors? What are your impressions of them? Do you have any favorite indie authors that you like more than the mainstream authors? Why? What appeals to you about them? If you have never read any books by indie authors, what might entice you to do so?
There are good writers out there who haven’t been able to get a publisher to take notice of their work. For them this is a wonderful time! It gives them the opportunity to get their work in front of the public to judge, instead of the almighty publisher, who might have been in a bad mood that day. It also gives them a better chance than with a publisher who rather give a known author a opening for a so-so book instead of taking a risk with the unknown. That being said, I have read my fair share of indie authors over the years….. And there are some first books people just shouldn’t have written. This at least gives them the chance to keep trying until hopefully they get it right. Its never good for a person to give up on their dreams, even if the first one was a nightmare. In all fairness, I do have to say that I have encountered  a few indie writers, who just shouldn’t…..
10) If you could give only ONE piece of advice to authors/publishers out there, what would it be?
If your dealing with a series, Keep it fresh!
Thanks for your awesome answers, Lisa! You have a lot of great insight and I truly appreciate your honest opinions.
And friends, stay tuned…more of these interviews are on their way, plus some surprise author AND TV celebrity interviews are coming up. Be sure to share this blog with your friends and post comments to let me know how you think I’m doing. Thanks!

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