With Azteclady, a longtime romance reader and resident of Romanceland, blogger/reviewer at Karen Knows Best, and thoughtful, funny commenter on this and many other blogs.
1. How long have you been reading romance novels? What got you started?
I’ve been reading romance novels for about three fourths of my life (if you want numbers, some 33 years) and it all started one day when I found an old Vanidades magazine laying about at my grandmother’s house. Already an avid reader, I suddenly found myself sitting there without anything to read—the horror!—and when I saw this ratty tattered magazine, I grabbed like one would a lifeline. It so happens that in it I found the first part of a short romance novel by Caridad Bravo Adams—sadly, I never got to read the end, but I was very intrigued by what little I did read. Shortly after I found a copy of E.M. Hull’s The Sheik… and I’ve never stopped reading romance since.
2. What are your favorite subgenres?
How come this question is harder than it seems? I want to say that romantic suspense is my top favorite, but I think it’s more a question of which are my least favorites (inspirational romance and stuff that is closer to what is commonly called “chick lit” than to romance).
3. You blogged once that when it comes to reviews, you are a strict grader, and you can “think of one or two romance novels that deserve a 10″. Spill it. Which ones?
My all-time favorite romance is LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory—and that is definitely a 10. Silver Lining, by Maggie Osborne, is probably my second favorite, and also a 10 (despite having an issue with the last five or so pages…) The third and fourth ones I remember off the top of my head would be Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon.
4. How long have you been a citizen of Romanceland? What were some of your first visited sites?
Did I mention that these are harder than they seem? Or perhaps it’s just that I’m old, but it boils down to, I can’t quite remember how long it’s been. I know I started reading the now-defunct Suzanne Brockmann Message Board eons ago (I want to say that it was November 2001, but it could have been 2002). From there I followed some regulars to Elizabeth Lowell’s now-defunct forums and eventually visited AAR once or twice. Then one fateful day I stumbled upon the oh so young! Smart Bitches, which lead me to Karen Scott’s old blog, to Wendy the Super Librarian’s blog, to Kristie(J)’s Ramblings on Romance and a number of other places.
5. How have things changed in Romanceland in that time?
Things have changed as much as they remain the same, really. There seem to be many more blogs devoted to romance reviewing these days than there were way back when, but it could easily be that it only seems that way to me because I used to be shy about venturing into the unknown.
It does seem to me, though, that for the most part things are cyclical. Some people I’ve come to love are saying goodbye for good *shedding tear for Barbara*, or taking sabbaticals *waving at Amy*, and others who were absent when I got here are coming back *waving at Maili* And people are… well, people. You have your chatterboxes, your extroverts, your introverts, your busybodies, your warm-fuzzy “can’t we all just get along?” people, your straight shooters, your philosophers (and not just you by the way)
6. How long have you been blogging with Karen Scott, and how did that come about?
Ooooooooooooohhh! Well, it all started a day in February last year. I had written a review of Ann Aguirre’s Grimspace and posted it to what used to be the Lost Forum at ezSucks (now MyMedia-Forums). Karen liked it and asked me if I would like to blog with her. After I hyper-ventilated a little, I rushed to accept and… well, here we are.
7. How do you like blogging with Karen? She seems so… wishy washy. I can never tell what her opinions really are on anything.
Oh I know! It’s sad at times just how mild she is. One feels the need to prod her to speak her mind, you know?
It’s great, actually. We don’t agree on a lot of stuff—I’ll say that we do agree about half the time if that much—so that makes discussions on posts lively Occasionally I’ll ask for Karen’s opinion before posting on something, but the fact is that I’ve never felt that I’m required to submit stuff to her prior for approval to posting. I don’t believe I’m a timid flower, but of the two I’m definitely the wimpy one
8. The KKB blog is like the Rainbow Coalition of Romanceland. Do you think this influences the way you blog at all? And why do you guys hate white people?
Well, we only hate those who hate us first—we are courteous like that
You know, it’s funny but I hadn’t thought about the RCofR aspect until I read the question, but I do see what you mean. I don’t think the audience/readership affects how I blog—at least not consciously, though I can’t say whether there’s a subtle influence at play there or not—except that I do try to be very clear as to what I mean or don’t mean.
Then again, that is not a new thing; way back when, when I first started commenting online (SBMB, the early SBTB, etc.) I would really struggle to be as unambiguous as possible, because while it can be entertaining to watch the train wrecks happen, I don’t relish being embroiled in a misunderstanding that could have been avoided by a bit more careful wording.
Perhaps it comes from the fact that English is not my first language, perhaps it’s just my personality
9. Do you read Spanish language romances? Are they different from English language roms?
*laughing ruefully* Well, see… other than those old Caridad Bravo Adams romances (set always in Spain, by the way) the early romances I read were all Spanish translations of English novels. Harlequin has been publishing categories in Latin America for ages—Deseo, Bianca, Julia and more I’ve forgotten. And the thing was, many of those translations annoyed the hell out of me for different reasons (including the occasional presence of a Latin hero who didn’t resemble any Latin American person I’ve ever met, male or female, or descriptions of places I’ve been to that didn’t resemble anything so much as a stereotypical postcard).
That was almost enough to put me off romance, because there didn’t seem to be any romances written originally in Spanish that I could find. Heaps and loads and piles of other fiction—excellent fiction too—but not romance. Then one fateful day some (holy cow, that long?) seventeen years ago, while living in Caracas, I discovered a few Avon romances in an English-only bookstore. Heaven, sheer and unadulterated. I haven’t looked back.
But to answer your question (at last!) those old Spanish by Caridad Bravo Adams romances were… well, innocent and extremely conservative. They were contemporaries but they resembled nothing as much as they did Barbara Cartland’s regencies. Sweet, syrupy and easy to leave behind.
10. What the hell is ETSY and why are people always Twittering about it? Etsy is fun, handmade, vintage and HUGE. You want it, you can find it there. You make it? You can sell it there!
(But I don’t know why people twitter about it, or anything else: Twitter scares me, I really don’t need another time-suck.)
11. Why did you open an ETSY store? Are you trying to make us broke? Do you intend to laugh all the way to the bank, or only halfway there?
a) ‘Cause I have stuff I’d like to sell.
b) Not really, and I’d be sorry if it happened to anyone. I like you guys!
c) I wouldn’t laugh at all—it’s in bad taste and such a cliché! (now, cackling…)
12. Why do you pose like Mussolini? Are you secretly a fascist?
Oh my God, that literally made me burst out laughing and scared the dog away!
I feel ridiculous posing for pictures under the best of circumstances, but while “modeling” something I’ve made? Ohmygawdkillmeknowplz! *cough*
So I started playing around, being all diva like… and those were the pictures that came out better. Go figure!
13. Why are you named after the classic “big box” magic trick? Are you an illusion? When I interview you, am I talking to myself?
*snort* Well, see, I’m not named after the trick simply because I didn’t even know there was such a thing until a couple of years AFTER I’d chosen my handle.
Here’s the actual story: I’m Mexican, with a lot of European blood (mostly French and Catalán). My native Mexican blood is, family lore has it, from the Mixtecas in the sierra of the Pacific state of Oaxaca. I considered calling myself mixteclady, but I didn’t feel like explaining my nickname every time I posted something—since pretty much no one outside of Mexico would recognize it—so I went for the more widely known Aztecs.
However, I very much like the idea of being an illusion… but if I’m an illusion I cannot meet you, can I?
13b. Ms. Lady, do you have a middle name?
Nope, I don’t—and I’m in fact the only of my siblings (youngest of 5, mind) who doesn’t. I would love to say it’s ‘cause I’m special, but in all honesty I think that by the time I was born they had ran out of family members to name me after.
14. Have you ever thought about starting your own blog? Why or why not? If not, why exactly do you think you are too good for blogging while the rest of us slave away?
• I’ve thought about it, yes, for a few seconds at a time here and there
• Why? So that I can spew whatever I want on whatever topic I want.
• Why not? ‘cause I already do that at Karen’s and elsewhere
• You mean I’m not?????
14b. Where else do you review/blog?
I cross-post my reviews to the library section at MyMedia-Forum and to a scrolling board that sprang from the old SBMB, as well as helping Mad with scheduling and formatting at RR@H Novel Thoughts. And this is exactly the second time I’ve done a ‘guest blog’ kinda thing (first at Will Work for Noodles). Dear Author also hosted my review of Morning Glory and The Good, The Bad and the Unread have a couple of my first reviews.
15. Other than the awesomeness that is RRR, what blogs have you been enjoying especially much lately?
Wendy’s always. Orannia’s Walkabout (love her). Tumperkin always makes me think—I hope she doesn’t go away Christine’s Romantic Life, Kmont’s Lurv à la Mode, Kristie’s Ramblings and many more, including a long list of authors.
16. On a scale of 9.9 to 10, how excited are you to meet me at RWA’10?
On a scale of one to ten, I’m around 15 excited to meet you in Nashville
Awww, back atcha, and thanks, Azteclady!