BBAW: An interview with Melissa of Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2012I always enjoy the interview swap portion of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, but this year’s is my favorite of all the interview swaps! So much easier to interestingly interview someone you already know and have blogged alongside for years. So, without further ado, here’s my interview of Melissa of Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books, or @BalletBookworm, as I like to think of her:

Chaucer, front, and Dante look up to see what Melissa is doing with the camera. Photo courtesy.

You work at a bookstore? How does that impact your reading?

I’m not sure anymore. I was always a an omnivore reader — a bit of this and that. I had just finished grad school when I started working at the store so I was catching up on a lot of things I’d meant to read or re-read: classics, award-winners, etc. I’ve come back around to genres that I’d burnt out on in high school — mainly SF and romance novels — and working as a bookseller means that not only do I have a feel for what’s good/popular in a genre, I also work with other book-loving people who offer suggestions. For example, right now we’re having a buy-two-get-one-free sale on DC Comics — I’ve always meant to catch up on graphic novels so a few fellow booksellers gave me suggestions on where to start (I went with Fables, Sandman, and Watchmen — I actually read Watchmen back in junior high and it was sooo over my head that it was suggested I give it a re-read). The best part of being a bookseller, though, is getting to recommend books — that never gets old!

I love that you’re from Iowa (I lived there for 9 or 10 years growing up). Have you been there your whole life? What do you like/dislike about where you live?

I’ve lived here since I was almost 2 years old. My dad took a job at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids so we moved from Ohio (both my little brothers were born in Iowa). I went to college at the University of Iowa, just down the road in Iowa City, and since I work there, too, I’ve never really been too far from home. Which is nice — close enough to see my family often but not so close that they would ever come stay. Living in a college town means that there’s a lot of bustle for most of the year, good coffee shops, lots of different people — so like a larger city — but without all the major problems of urban areas. The UI is a major part of the City of Literature designation recently bestowed on Iowa City by UNESCO so there’s always a reading or a signing going on. It’s the best combination of quiet and busy!

I love living in a college town! I miss it, actually. How do you find time to read (and knit) and blog with all your work / the rest of life?

Sadly, the blogging has suffered a bit of late. Writing up a book is never so much fun as reading it! But I usually get about 20 minutes or so each way from the hospital job (I try to take the bus) to either knit or read (usually read since knitting seems to make the nosiest people want to talk to me, oy), I knit during conference calls, and I usually read when I get home from work. I’m a singleton — who wishes she had more of a life. Le sigh. (If I had more time I would just fill it up by reading more, of course, so I don’t know what I’m sighing about.) I’m actually a pretty fast reader if I’m just reading fiction. I can polish off a 250 page mass-market-sized novel in about two hours (less, if I’m reading on my NOOK since I don’t have to turn the pages).

That sounds pretty fast to me, yep. :) Do you enjoy the same genres in movies and/or television that you are consistently drawn to in books?

Dudes, if it’s an adaptation of a nineteenth-century British novel I am so down for watching that (double points if it’s a BBC miniseries): North and South, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wives and Daughters, and on and on and on! I collect Criterion Collection DVDs — current favorites are M, Topsy-Turvy, and The Third Man — and try to see indie films when they hit the Bijou. Rom-coms like You’ve Got Mail and The Holiday are always favorites. [So let's see ... that's classics, literary fiction, and romance novels (regencies, contemporaries just don't it for me) ...] James Bond movies are some of my favorite action films but the books aren’t favorites of mine (I’ve read them all, and I think they’re fine, but I have an abiding fondness for Sean Connery and Daniel Craig). Criminal Minds is still one of my favorite TV shows (along with the cancelled Numb3rs) but thrillers have never been a big draw for me in books.

Ooh, I really liked Numb3rs, too. What’s the best book you’ve read this year, and why?

Oh, no! It would almost be easier to tell you which ones I didn’t like (seriously, do not read The Husband Hunt by Lynsay Sands — such a disappointment)! [Cheating and looking at my Goodreads stats page for help ...] The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (the first in the Mary Russell series) is one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a long time — very intricate, a mystery for inquisitive people. Devil’s Cub is one of Georgette Heyer’s best works (although it’s best to read These Old Shades first for storyline) — champagne bubbles with solid historical research underneath. The knitter in me has to recommend Clara Parkes’s The Knitter’s Book of Socks because it dovetailed so well with her previous books and provided even more sock patterns to peruse. And since I fell headlong back into Regency romance this year I discovered the wonderful Eloisa James — so many things are woven in with her plots (chess masters for the six Duchesses, Jacobean and Shakespearean drama for the Essex sisters, and her new Fairy Tales series is wonderfully inventive) that I have to recommend them for anyone looking into the genre.

Ha, I totally had to look at my books-read list to answer that question, too. Totally not cheating. I’ve been meaning to read the Mary Russell series for ages! Glad you liked it. And I’ve been drooling over that Clara Parkes book, also. How long have you been blogging, and what’s been your most meaningful blogging experience?

I started SSWB almost exactly six years ago but didn’t really do much with it. I was all over the map — a book review here, a movie/DVD review there, some random news tidbit, then a post whining about life in general. I became more serious about “the Blog” in 2009 — I got pitched my first ever book (The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club) that spring and joined the time-suck-that-is-Twitter — and found a whole community of like-minded readers, bloggers, and generally enthusiastic book people. I probably overdid it that year (oh, the memes, too many memes) but I really found things that resonated with me like BBAW, Dewey’s Readathon, and writing about Banned Books Week. A much-appreciated personal experience came through reading Havi Carel’s book Illness (review) — it was the first book I’d ever requested and reading/reviewing that slim volume led to a very nice email conversation with the author. However, all this blogging and thinking and finding new books to read finally unlocked the place in my brain that used to write — I finally wrote a book! It’s nowhere near done/readable — I’m still working on a seventh draft and trying to iron out a major plot SNAFU — but it’s finally out of my head for the first time since high school.

That’s awesome about getting a book written, Melissa! So excellent. Thanks for being my interview swap partner, it was fun!

And be sure to check out Melissa’s blog for her interview with me — including a photo with me and the not-so-little one.

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10 responses to “BBAW: An interview with Melissa of Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books

  1. Boy is she right – the writing isn’t nearly as fun as the reading. I love college towns too!

  2. I just started reading Eloisa James and her books really are fun.
    I wish writing a review was as easy as reading the book.

  3. I grew up in a college town, so to me that’s normal. :) I didn’t know you worked in a bookstore, Hannah! Have you ever thought of opening your own bookstore?

  4. Hooray for Iowans! Fun interview – thanks!

  5. Fun! Off to check out her blog!

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