I really enjoy a good author interview, and in my short time as a published novelist, I’ve been involved in several (on both sides of the questions). But we authors can be an insular lot (some would say self-centered, aloof, arrogant), and it struck me that it would be interesting to get the views of some readers. I’m going to try and make this a regular feature on the site, so if you are a reader who wants to give the writing world a piece of your mind, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get one set up!
Today’s interview is with Richard Auffrey. Richard has been involved in food and wine writing for over six years. He currently writes a food, wine, sake and spirits blog, The Passionate Foodie (http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com) and also has a sake-dedicated site, Passionate Sake (http://www.passionatesake.com). In addition, he writes a food & wine column for the Stoneham Sun newspaper and has been published in various other periodicals. Richard is a Certified Spanish Wine Educator, a Certified Sake Professional, and a Wine Location Specialist who teaches educational classes, presides over tastings and dinners, as well as consults. He especially enjoys promoting niche wines and beverages, trying to get others to expand their palates. He is also a voracious reader with eclectic tastes.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do for a living? I was spawned in the depths of R’lyeh, suckled by a Deep One. No, that’s not true. Or if it is, I must fully deny it. I am actually a lifelong resident of Massachusetts and currently residing in a suburb north of Boston. I am a licensed attorney (don’t hold that against me) though my current career is as a freelance food/wine writer and educator. That is a far more satisfying career choice. I have been an avid reader since I was very young and my passion for reading has only grown as I have aged.
- Do you have a favorite genre that you like to read? What attracts you to that type of book? I am a fairly eclectic and voracious reader, embracing many genres in both fiction and nonfiction. As for fiction, I am partial to horror, science fiction and fantasy, as I feel these genres offer the most creativity, and that is something that greatly appeals to me. Creating an entire fantasy world or SF universe is not an easy task, and I have great respect for those who do it well. I attended my first science-fiction convention 32 years ago, and continue to attend them. As for nonfiction, I am partial toward history, philosophy and food/wine books. But, I will read most any book if it interests me.
- Is there any genre you would never read? I generally don’t read straight romance novels, the Harlequin romance type, though have no problem if there is a romantic angle in the genres that I do enjoy. If Fabio is on the cover, it is probably not a novel I will enjoy.
- Who is your favorite author? Harlan Ellison, whose work I find thought provoking and entertaining, with plenty of irreverence. He has written so many classic short stories, and been an inspiration in my own writing. But there are a number of other authors who I very much enjoy, those I eagerly await each and every of their new books. Some of these include established authors like Dan Simmons, Mike Resnick, Brian Lumley, Clive Barker, and newer ones like Kevin Hearne, Jonathan Maberry, and Jon Merz.
- What about your favorite book? That is a much tough questioner and I really can’t choose just one such book. There are a small group of books though which I find myself rereading time and time again, which really intrigue and please me. Some of these would include Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison, Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons, Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick, Chung Kuo series by David Wingrove, Mongo mysteries by George Chesbro, Dune by Frank Herbert, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, and Replay by Ken Grimwood.
- What’s the most disappointing book you have ever read? This year, it would be a tie between Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson and Zone One by Colson Whitehead. There was so much hype about these books and neither lived up to a fraction of that hype. Robopocalypse seemed so derivative and trite, and I have read much better books with a similar plot before. Zone One was just boring too me, and I really like a good zombie tale.
- What influences you the most when picking something to read? Cost? Word of mouth? Cover art? Probably the most significant factor is the blurb about the book’s plot. If it sounds interesting to me, then I am likely to pick it up. Though the other factors, from cost to word of mouth, play their role as well. I do know that with the surge in e-books, with so many available for free or only 99 cents, I do purchase more books as it seems such a small risk for such a little amount.
- Have you ever bought a book because of its advertising? Advertising can draw my attention to a book that I had not previously known about, but alone, it won’t get me to buy a book.
- Authors have developed the bad habit of spamming social media sites like Twitter and Facebook (in full disclosure, I am as guilty as anyone). Do you think that kind of thing actually works? Social media is fine for promoting your product or services, but there is also a line where it can become spam. The more times you push your book each day, the greater the chance it will be spam. Plus, the best writers know that social media should also be a two-way communication, a way to connect with their fans and would-be fans. That requires a dialogue with others, and not a one-way promotion of their books. I have unfollowed authors who only promoted their books and didn’t engage anyone.
- Have you ever thought about writing something yourself? If you did try your hand at writing, what sort of story would you want to tell? I have written fiction before, mostly short stories, and several of them can be found through a companion site (http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/p/food-wine-short-stories.html) to my Passionate Foodie website. These five short stories are all food/wine related, and generally have some kind of twist at the end. I am also currently working on revising the first draft of a horror novel, about demonic possession and exorcism. Essentially, the book tries to resolve some of the unanswered questions revolving around Roman Catholic exorcism. My hope is that it becomes the first novel in a five book series.
- Do you prefer paper books or electronic? I have a true love for paper books, and currently own thousands of them, paperbacks to hardcovers, and have two rooms in my home holding all of these books. But I have embraced electronic books as well, as they save me lots of room in my house, and often are cheaper than paper books. But for a true keeper, I generally prefer the paper book. Electronic books have though given greater exposure to many worthy authors.
- What’s your favorite drink, alcoholic or not? Another tough question as I love all sorts of drinks, from iced tea to wine, from vodka to tequila. I love to try new drinks, be they wines made from rare grapes or from less common areas like Lebanon or Georgia (the country). You can learn much more about the alcoholic drinks I like on my blog, The Passionate Foodie. I must mention though I have a strong passion for sake, that compelling Japanese brew.
- What book is next on your list to read? I am currently reading The Emperor’s Knife by Mazarkis Williams and then will move onto Empire State by Adam Christopher.
- You’re the host of a blog called “The Passionate Foodie.” Tell us about that. It is a food, wine, sake, and spirits blog which I have been writing for 4 ½ years. Like me, it is eclectic in the type of posts I write, from Rants to Restaurant Reviews, Histories to Wine Reviews. I especially like writing about less common and unusual items, to get people to expand their palates and minds. I post 5-7 times a week, so it keep me busy writing. One of my most recent additions was a new series: Alcohol, Authors, and Accolades, where I combine a couple of my loves, books and alcohol, to provide my readers with author recommendations and to delve deeper into the minds of these authors.