Regular Vampire Wire readers know that I am always going to Kimberly Swan's Darque Reviews for news about exciting paranormal/urban fantasy books and authors. Kimberly's a pro -- her reviews always include summaries and her thoughts about the book. They're refreshingly snark-free and respectful of the authors (leaving those of us who like to snark more room in the field). In other words, her sites are for people who really want to know about books.
Recently Kimberly's expanded her online presence to include a Darque Reviews website and increased her content to carry more author interviews and contests. Frankly, I don't know how she does it all, especially since she's not cluttering up her pages with all sorts of extraneous stuff and excessive flash graphics like some bloggers. (Naked David Boreanaz is not extraneous.)
So I wanted to know more about Kimberly's approach to her reviews and why she's dedicated so much of her time to one genre. Kimberly will be giving away a copy of Lynsay Sands' Immortal Hunter to one person who leaves a comment. Tell us what you want from a review or where you go to find out more about books or just say hi. The contest ends Saturday night and a winner will be chosen at random.
MARTA: Why don’t you tell us a little about your reading background and how you came to create Darque Reviews?
KIMBERLY: I’ve always enjoyed reading, and it seems that the older I got, the more I read. A friend who runs an ebook review site asked me a few years ago if I had ever thought about reviewing, so I tried it out. Then I found myself reviewing for a magazine and a print review site. Eventually I realized that as much as I enjoyed reviewing, I wanted more control over the books I read. That’s how Darque Reviews started.
MARTA: When you started your blog, you were one of the few reviewers who focused on paranormal and urban fantasy fiction. What appealed to you about the genre?
KIMBERLY: More than anything it’s the "What if" factor. I can get lost for a few hours in these books, and for me that’s the most enjoyable part.
MARTA: Some reviewers have become known for their snark (and I love those, except when they’re directed at me, natch), but you’re always treat your reviews seriously. Do you have a policy about this? What happens if you hate a book, or think it’s really badly written?
KIMBERLY: I started out reviewing for other sites, not for myself, so that’s part of the reason why I tend to lean more towards serious.
Most books have some redeeming quality. While a book might not be my cup of tea, it may appeal to other readers. I try to mention the qualities that someone else might appreciate, and still make my point if it’s not a book that I’d recommend to readers who share a taste in books that’s similar to my own.
I average about one or two review books each year that I’ve agreed to read, but find that I can’t finish it because it’s just that bad. I won’t review a book I can’t finish, so with those rare books I notify the author or their publicist and tell them why.
MARTA: How many books do you read in a week? What other things do you like to read?
KIMBERLY: On average I read five books a week, but sometimes more if some of them are short. If I’m not reading a book for review on Darque Reviews, then it’s usually non-fiction history, something on myths and legends, or a steamy erotic romance.
MARTA: You’ve just started a website in conjunction with your blog. Are you changing the direction of Darque Reviews, or expanding content?
KIMBERLY: I’m not really changing the direction, but it’s definitely expanding with the website. It will be more organized, and hopefully easier for readers to browse through. I’ll be able to use the blog more for updates, guest blogs and giveaways.
MARTA: Who are a few favorite writers who you think should be read by more readers?
KIMBERLY: I know there are many that I’m surprised aren’t mentioned more often, but a few off of the top of my head:
- Casey Daniels – Pepper Martin series
- Jes Battis – OSI series
- Toni Andrews – Mercy Hollings series
- C. E. Murphy – Walker Papers series
MARTA: Writers are notoriously sensitive to criticism. Have you had any unpleasant experiences?
KIMBERLY: As far as reviews go I haven’t really had any unpleasant experiences, thank goodness.
MARTA: What’s your advice for someone who wants to start reviewing?
KIMBERLY: Be sure that you have the time to dedicate to reading/reviewing books, especially if you have a family. You also might want to work with a review site to start with where books are requested through them.
MARTA: Can you give us any predictions about the genre?
KIMBERLY: Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance have been around in some form for a long time, so I think it will continue to expand each year. There are so many ideas just waiting to worm their way into an author’s creative brain, and there’s a large following that are eager for each new book to hit the shelves.
MARTA: If you could take a vacation into one book for a week (or two) what book would it be and what would you do while you were there?
KIMBERLY: Wow, that’s an amazingly difficult question! I’ve tried to think of one that I love where someone isn’t always getting killed. *grin* I’d have to choose A Taste of Darkness by Nina Bangs (from her Mackenzie Vampires series). I’d get a room at the Woo Woo Inn and spend that week or two being entertained by the antics of the "Cosmic Troublemakers": Sparkle Stardust, Ganymede, and Trouble.
Thanks so much for having me on Vampire Wire!
MARTA: Thank you, Kimberly, for finding the time to answer my questions and for having such a terrific site!
If you want to get regular updates on Kimberly's reviews, contests and interviews, you can Twitter her.
Remember to leave a comment if you'd like to enter a contest for Lynsay Sands' Immortal Hunter.