Friday, April 17, 2015

On Friday, April 17, 2015 by Adria J. Cimino in
Legacy: An Anthology
Today is the official launch day of Legacy: An Anthology, featuring award-winning authors such as Kristopher Jansma and best-selling authors including Regina Calcaterra! A collection of thought-provoking stories each linked to the them of legacy, what we leave behind. The book is available in print and ebook formats.

Author proceeds from sales of Legacy will benefit Paws for Reading, a program that allows children to read aloud to a therapy dog (or cat, or bunny!) in order to improve reading and communication skills.

And now, a special treat right here. As part of the Legacy launch, we are interviewing Allison Hiltz, book blogger extraordinaire and founder of The Book Wheel website. Allison's original #30Authors international blogging event inspired the creation of the anthology and we've worked closely together on the project over the past few months. You'll find more detail about how the project came to be in the book's preface, written by none other than Allison!

Today, we're chatting with Allison about how she chooses books, how they have affected her life and how she as a book blogger can influence a writer's destiny...

Allison Hiltz of The Book Wheel
Q: Has a book ever been “life changing” for you? Which book, and how?

A: Hands down, it’s The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks by Susan Casey. When I was little, I wanted to be a marine biologist and although that career choice obviously faded (along with my dreams of becoming a jockey), my love of the ocean did not. Before Susan Casey’s book came along, I liked sharks in the normal way - they were big, scary, and entirely too cool for school. Then I read this book and was forever changed.

The book is about a lot of things* - sharks, conservation, research - but the undercurrent of the book is the story of a woman who fell down the rabbit hole into obsession with all things sharks and, well, I dove right in after her. By the time I came up for air at the end of the book, I was hooked and have spent the last ten years learning about and educating others (socially, of course) about the perils of the declining shark populations. Shark policy was the subject of my undergraduate senior project, as well as my current graduate policy memorandum (much like a thesis), so it’s safe to say that the book has changed my life.

(*I should note that the book has received some negative attention from those in the marine biology field in the years since this book was released, mostly for Casey’s personal actions detailed in the book. While I certainly look back on certain aspects of the book differently now that I know a lot more about shark conservation and habits, it still changed my life and for that I am grateful).

Q: What are your top three all-time favorite books (excluding the one you speak of in the first question) and why?

A: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - I only recently read this one and can’t believe it took me so long. Owen Meany is someone who just curls up in your heart and never leaves. Ever.

Nice Girls (Still) Don’t Get the Corner Office by Dr. Lois Frankel - This is a great and handy book that talks about all the ways women may sabotage themselves in the workplace. I wish I didn’t need to read this book, but the sad fact is that gender disparities exist and this book is helpful in staying at the top of your game.

???? - Okay, I’m going to be sneaky because I actually talk about one of my all-time favorite books in the anthology and how it has influenced my life as a person and a reader. So I’m going to refrain from sharing that book here in the hopes that it will entice people to go out and buy the book!

Q: Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction? Why?

A: For most of my life I would have answered fiction, but over the past few years I’ve developed a new appreciation for nonfiction. I love to learn and always want to know more, so while I have certainly learned a lot from fiction, I’m enjoying expanding my knowledge base. Plus, it helps me keep my reputation as the one with all of the random facts at social gatherings!

Today, we feel that bloggers are an integral part of the book industry. Is that a big change from when you started blogging about books? Do you think bloggers are getting more credit today than they did just a few years ago?

Absolutely. When I first started blogging, there was an incredibly supportive set of authors that interacted with the book blogging community, but that set has definitely expanded. I think this is partly because of social media, especially Twitter, because it broke down the wall between readers and authors. Authors are no longer elusive hermits who scribble away by candlelight and bloggers aren’t strangers behind a computer screen - we’re all in this together and can see each other as people.

Q: Do you think that bloggers can help influence an author’s success?

A: I do, to an extent. Bloggers are great at shining a light on first-time authors and putting them on the map, but at the end of the day a book is successful because it relies on its own merits. That said, I’m off in my own world thinking about the viability of this as a topic for a PhD, now…

Q: How do you choose what book to read next? Do you read what fellow bloggers recommend, look to the best-sellers list etc. etc.?

A: Oh, the agony of choosing a new book! My process varies - sometimes I know exactly what I’m going to read next and others I can spend hours trying to decide because I have so many great options. That said, I tend to avoid the bestseller lists and split my decision 50/50 between what I want to read and the new picks that trusted bloggers are recommending. If I’m really stuck, I’ll give my husband a one-sentence summary of a few books and tell him to pick one for me.

Q: What has been your favorite aspect of working on this #30Authors/Legacy project?

A: The people! The authors and bloggers participating in this project, as well as those who participated in the original #30Authors event last September, have been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic. Not only have I been introduced to some fantastic new books, I’ve deepened my relationships with people I already admired. If you ask me, there’s no replacement for good books and good friends.

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Legacy is now available on Amazon: Paperback | Kindle