Friday, November 08, 2013

Meet Lia London - the brain behind a special book blog

While I've been rocking on my barge in the recent storms, I've been thinking about a new angle for my weberviews. I've posted interviews with a number of authors on Watery Ways, but I've noticed recently there's been a big increase in the number of book review blogs on the net, and I wondered what inspired people to start focusing on this aspect of writing. As a result, and in the coming weeks, I'll be inviting some of these book bloggers to my barge for a chat about what they do and what moves them.

To kick it off, I've recently discovered a special blog called Clean Indie Reads. It was started by Lia London, and as soon as I read it, I got in touch with Lia and asked her if she would come and answer some questions for me about what she means by Clean Reads and Flinch Free Fiction as the heading of the blog calls it. Luckily, she doesn't get seasick, so she agreed to come and sit with me while we roll around in the wind.

Lia London in happy mode

So without further ado, welcome Lia!

VP.  Lia, firstly, I know you are a writer yourself, so how long have you been writing and what is your particular genre?

LL. Well, I've actually been writing for public consumption since grade school (let's just say 35 years ago) where I began with skits for school assemblies and poetry for competitions. In college, I wrote a full-length comic musical that was performed by a local children's theater. Comic or inspirational scripts dominated my writing until about four years ago when I began writing novels. I haven't focused on a single genre, but looking forward to the "to be written" pile, I favor young adult fantasy and Brit-style comedies.

VP. That's special! So what books did you read when you were growing up and what was it you loved about them?

LL. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia and the whole Oz series.  I loved being transported to another world with new ways of doing things and new creatures.  They fired up my imagination and helped me envision magical things all around me.

VP. That explains the love of YA and Brit humour then! How many books have you written, and which is your personal favourite?

LL. I've written four that are published, and have another one due out within a month.  The personal favorite varies depending on the mood because they are all so different.  Today, I'll say it's Magian High.

VP. I'm glad to hear someone else doesn't keep to one style either. Do you have any anecdotes about what made you start writing a particular book?

LL. Yes, actually. The Fargenstropple case came about because I needed to learn how to format books for kindles, but I didn't want to use my debut novel (The Circle of Law) as the test dummy because it was my "baby".  Fargenstropple was actually the product of an experiment in collaborative fiction, like a choose-your-own-ending story with my readers bossing me along.  It served its purpose as a  manuscript to learn formatting, but it also ended up being the book that most makes me giggle.  

VP. That must have been really good fun to do, but then given what you did there, what do you feel is most important when you start a new writing project? Getting it right, or getting it written?

LL. Getting it written.  Even if you go back and change everything.  Writing it helps you know it--in particular, it helps you know your characters, and I've always said the characters need to do the writing for you.  When I've written enough, I trust my characters enough to take over the reins, and they really take me places.

VP. Isn't it amazing how they can do that? I could talk about that for hours, but back to the core reason for asking you here, Lia, tell me what inspired you to start the Clean Indie Reads book blog?

LL. Once I became an indie author, I began reading indie books, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of story-telling I found.  I wanted my friends who were skeptical of self-published books to see what was out there, but I wanted to be able to recommend the books without reservation.  Since I know I'm not the only one who doesn't appreciate overly graphic images being implanted in my brain, I set out to highlight the awesome books that wouldn't have that drawback, hence the Flinch Free Fiction.  I featured writers like Elise Stokes, Michelle Isenhoff and Alan Tucker, and it just grew from there.

VP. I think a lot of people I know feel the same way too. As a reviewer, then what do you think is important when writing an honest review?

LL. That's a two-parter.  I need to speak to the needs of the potential reader to let them know if this book is a good read within its genre and for its target audience.  It drives me nuts when reviewers rip apart a book that was clearly never intended for them in the first place.  I also want to let the writer know what specifically made me enjoy the book.  If an author writes a crapola book, and I don't even finish the book, then I don't write a review.  I won't review anything that I haven't finished cover to cover.

VP. That's important isn't it? I know authors submit books to CIR to be presented on the blog with a 'weberview' but do publishers or distributors ever ask you to review books for them?

LL. Not yet.  I would love that job!  Do you know where I can apply?

VP. Aha, maybe you'll need to read some of the next weberviews here on the barge to get the answer to that one! One more question, Lia, in this digital age, do you mostly read paperbacks or e-books these days?

LL. I actually only recently broke down and bought a kindle because so many indie books were only available in e-book form.  Right now, I mostly read e-books because  they're cheaper.  However, if I love an e-book, and it's available in paperback, I buy the paperback for my shelves.  It's like a seal of honor when a book makes it to my shelves because it means it's a keeper to be treated with respect.  Books are like gold in my house.

VP. Oh yes, I've started doing that too! And lastly, before we go out for a walk round the harbour, what do you do in your free time when you aren't writing and blogging? 

LL. That's a trick question, isn't it?  The writing and blogging is what fills my free time.  It brings me great joy to keep my mind active and interact with the awesome people who come to my site and participate in Clean Indie Reads.  But... the answer you probably want is that I practice Taekwondo and read (though never at the same time). 

VP. Haha, I'd love to see that! Okay Lia, we'd best get off here before we're both seasick! It's a stormy day out there.

LL. Thanks Val. This was a great opportunity and I hope some of your readers will come and visit my blog. They can find the links to the blog and her FB pages here:
@LiaLondon1 #CR4U

When the rocking got too much


  1. What a great interview - thank you both, I hope you enjoyed your stroll round the harbour.

  2. Thank you, Jo! It was a bit wet and windy, but I think Lia enjoyed it :-)

  3. Terrific interview Val. I really like Lia's approach to reviewing books: "It drives me nuts when reviewers rip apart a book that was clearly never intended for them in the first place".
    I've read so many of those. Look forward to more interviews!

  4. Thanks, Lynn! I so totally agree, and Lia, thank you for coming! I enjoyed it too!

  5. Lia's a dynamo with more energy than a certain pink bunny we all know. CIR is a great resource for finding terrific reads!

  6. Great interview, incredible setting, and wonderful, honest opinions on the indie publishing arena, writing and reviews.

    FYI, Lia, the day I stumbled upon CIR I felt as if I'd come home. Thank you! :)

  7. Thank you very much for commenting , Alan and Anne! I hope Lia will drop back in again if she has time!

  8. Great interview! Pleasure to meet you Lia. Hope you're not still rocking, Val.

  9. LOL. Just a sec. I'm still giggling over your picture. ;) What can I say, Miz Lia London, other than YOU ROCK! Thank you for starting #CR4U and asking me to take part. You're an amazing person and writer, and I'm utterly in awe of how much you juggle. Did you mention you also homeschool in the interview? I don't think you did.

  10. Thanks, Carol! The rocking is less, but it's still windy out there!

    Elize, that's funny! Yes, Lia rocks and is rocking on my boat. Welcome to my watery world :-) I don't think Lia mentioned the home schooling….

  11. love the new idea Val, great way to meet new people (and you never know what valuable info you can pick up, and God knows we need a lot of that!)

  12. Thanks for doing this interview. I really like the idea of reviewing "clean" reads.

  13. Thanks, Jay! It's also a lovely way to get to know the people we interact with. I'll need to get you two on here one of these days. A writing partnership of sisters is also something special!

    Many thanks Kristien! I think it's something special as well!

  14. Great interview..and a great idea. Hope it takes off!! We need more ''fair'' reviewers!!

  15. Thank you wonder Carol!! Nice new initiative isn't it? CIR has only been going as a blog for about 6 months and they've already had 150k views…gulp. I've only managed 50k in 6 years!

  16. "I loved the Chronicles of Narnia and the whole Oz series. I loved being transported to another world with new ways of doing things and new creatures. They fired up my imagination and helped me envision magical things all around me." ~~~ I love this, these were my favorites growing up.
    Really great interview Val, nice to meet Lia London. :)

  17. Lia and i were good friends back in the days of primary school in St.Andrews, Scotland. We kept in touch for many years but unfortunately lost contact. It is really great to see Lia as an established author. I would be very grateful if you could help me get back in contact with her.
    Anna Edgar

  18. Sorry, you can e-mail me through my gmail thanks

    Anna Edgar

  19. Hi Anne, I'm afraid I don't see a gmail address for you, but you can get in touch with Lia through the Clean Indie Reads blog: She also has a Facebook page and runs the Clean Indie Reads Facebook page. I'm afraid I don't have her as a personal contact on Facebook, but the blog would be a good place to start!


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