I signed up for the BBAW interview swap and was delighted to be paired with a blogger who I’d never heard of before! I’d like to introduce you to Dana, author of Much Madness is Divinest Sense. Isn’t that a fantastic blog name?
Let’s get started with the interview! I was too chicken to ask a bunch of Would you rather questions, but that’s what was rattling around in my brain as I thought up these questions. 😀
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a full-time English teacher, and I love to talk books with my students. I have three children: two daughters and a son. My son is named for the poet Dylan Thomas. My husband blogs about true crime for CBS and The Village Voice. I enjoy reading all kinds of literature. I am very interested in technology and have been working on a master’s degree in Instructional Technology.
Why did you start blogging?
To be honest, I can’t remember. I used to blog under a pseudonym and actually started that blog in 2001, which is ages ago in Internet terms, I guess. Over time I decided to use my own name and even bought a domain. For a long time, the blog that is today my book blog was a hodge podge of various thoughts. It gradually became focused on books. I also have an education blog, a genealogy blog, and a neglected Harry Potter blog.
I see you’ve been blogging for a long time. What keeps you blogging? How have you seen the book blogging world change in the years you’ve been blogging?
While I have been blogging a long time, my blog didn’t become focused on books until fairly recently in its history, so I don’t feel qualified to discuss changes in the book blogging world specifically, but I have seen changes in blogging over time. For one thing, Twitter has become prevalent, and many bloggers I follow have gradually posted less and less on their blogs and using Twitter more. This trend does not seem commonplace among book bloggers, and I think it’s due to the love of the word. We like to talk more, I guess, and 140 characters doesn’t cut it! I think the main reason I keep blogging is that it’s my way of reflecting and thinking. The bonus is that people sometimes respond to my ideas. I journaled for a long time as a teenager, but since then I’ve had trouble keeping a diary or journal regularly. The blogs help me pause and reflect in a way that doesn’t seem so lonely.
Do you have any secret names for yourself?
I actually can’t think of any. I have had in the past, but I prefer not to be associated with pseudonyms I’ve used in the past.
Have you ever gotten in trouble for reading (at school or work)?
Oh, I’m sure I was told to put the book away many times. I remember reading Gone with the Wind under the desk in 7th grade.
Who’s the coolest author you’ve ever met?
Coolest in terms of just being nice and really caring for his fans—Matthew Pearl. I wrote a note to my students on a blog I have kept for them in the past about his novels The Poe Shadow and The Dante Club in which I recommended students read them. Matthew Pearl sent me a nice e-mail thanking me for the support and inviting me to his appearance in Atlanta. I went, and I correctly answered his trivia question and won a page from his original manuscript of The Dante Club. When Matthew was signing books, I thanked him for the e-mail, and he said, “Oh, you’re Ms. Huff!” I was so touched he remembered. He signed my book and my manuscript page (which is now framed and hanging in my classroom). Later, when he had finished The Last Dickens, he contacted me and asked me if I wanted an advance reader copy. I saw him when he came through Atlanta again for the Dickens tour, and he remembered me still. I know it seems like such a small thing, but he is so gracious and kind, and the fact that he values his fans so much has won me over for life. I will absolutely buy and read every single book he writes.
Coolest in terms of famous would probably be Diana Gabaldon, who listened to me babble about my own writing and was very encouraging.
I haven’t actually met Katherine Howe, who wrote The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, but she’s just like Matthew in terms of connecting with her readers. She often responds to readers on Twitter, and she posted my review of her novel to her Facebook page.
Since this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, do you have some other favorite book bloggers you’d like to mention?
I just love Iliana from Bookgirl’s Nightstand (http://www.bookgirl.net/). She also responds to comments and she leaves encouraging comments on my blog. She reads a lot, and I enjoy her blog. Another favorite is Vic who writes Jane Austen’s World (http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/). Jane Austen is one of my favorites, and I always learn a lot from Vic’s carefully researched and hyperlinked posts. I really enjoy Stefanie of So Many Books (http://somanybooksblog.com/). She has such an engaging style. Finally, I really enjoy Murray Abramovitch of The Literarian (http://www.theliterarian.com/). His posts are always interesting and engaging, and he makes excellent book recommendations.
Have you ever thrown a book across the room?
Yes! I actually threw Anne Rice’s book Memnoch the Devil across the room right after Lestat drank blood from Jesus’s neck. I can put up with a fair amount of sacrilege, and I don’t consider myself to be a Bible-thumper or a conservative Christian at all, but something about that scene so offended my sensibilities both as a reader and a Christian that I hurled the book against the wall. I crossed my arms and fumed for a while, then picked the book up and finished it.
Do you have one book you recommend to EVERYONE?
If people ask me about books I think they absolutely must read, my list always includes The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. That book is so layered and works on so many levels. I learned much more about Africa as a result of reading that book than I ever did in history class. I would have a great deal of difficulty ever picking a favorite book, but this is one book I think everyone should read.
Can you tell us your favorite books of all time (top 3 or 5)?
I have listed all seven Harry Potter books as one book in order to make this work! Aside from Harry Potter, I love The Poisonwood Bible, which I already mentioned, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is, however, very hard to limit my list even to five. Check out my high-rated books on Goodreads if you’d like to see more: http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/923867?sort=rating.
Thank you, Dana, for agreeing to be interviewed and providing such great questions! I encourage you to check out her blog, Much Madness is Divinest Sense, and then I challenge you to not add her to your feed reader. Good luck! 😉