In my continuing saga of guilting fellow readers into answering my questions, wonderful Keira Soleore took time out of her holidays to send me her answers. Keira and I have been in the same Romancelandia circles for many years. We have often ended up in tweep deep twitter threads discussing romance fiction, our respective weathers and our cities. But the two of us have always had another little side reading thing going on – in years past, we often discussed reading recommendations for younger kids, especially those (darned) learner readers. I love that Keira lists her picture book and kids book reviews alongside her romance reviews on her blog – I wish that more bloggers did this!
My Twitter @KeiraSoleore
My blog http://keirasoleore.blogspot.com
My site http://www.keirasoleore.com
Can you describe yourself?
I’m an amateur student of medieval books and manuscripts, taking online classes from universities, such as Stanford, Cambridge, and Harvard. I review books for All About Romance, and I’m a book editor. In addition, I’m also a writer, reader, singer, sun saluter, beach-lay-abouter, a lapsed engineer, a Midwesterner turned West Coaster, a fledgling political activist — basically an all-around good egg. If I had the choice, I’d love to be found visiting England in the summer and Hawaii the rest of the year. Alas, I’m stuck in rainy, cold, gray (but green!) Seattle year round. If I were to be reborn as an animal, I hope to be an elephant or a mountain gorilla.
What is your main reading medium (books, blogs, games, news, etc) and how much time do you spend reading a week?
I spend way, way, way more time online than I should. It’s a constant refrain on the soundtrack of my life. Twitter and personal Facebook run my life with two almost mutually exclusive friend circles. I have learned so much, participated in so many new and different things, and discovered sustaining passions thanks to these two media.
My blog reading has declined tremendously over the years. I was introduced to Romancelandia in 2006 by the SquawkRadio and Risky Regencies blogs and Candice Hern’s and Eloisa James’s message boards. I continue to read Risky Regencies and the close third, Word Wenches, to this day. My best blog follows these days are Oxford don Mary Beard’s Times Literary Supplement blog, Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog, and Dalhousie professor Rohan Maitzen’s Novel Readings blog.
However, I remain a reader at heart. My first copies of books that I still have in my personal library date from when I was eight years old. They are ancient copies of Enid Blyton stories by the beloved British children’s author. To banish the influence of “those” books, my mother impressed improving books upon me, which have become sustaining loves: Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Three Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo, Scarlet Pimpernel, Tale of Two Cities, and so many more.
I still prefer to read in print. I cannot retain a complex story in my mind if I read in digital. Something about the ephemeral nature of the medium leads to a transient memory of the events in the story. I like to hold a physical book in my hand, flip through pages to find stuff, stick post-it notes in it, and write marginalia, (and smell the book – ahem!).
What or who is your joyful reading (guilty or otherwise) pleasure?
Romance reading used to be a guilty pleasure. Now? I read it high and proud. Traditional Regency romances, Heyer, and Austen currently hit my sweet spot. The minute I start such a story, I sink into a comfortable coze — ah, I know this, it speaks to me, it will not abandon me. Romances are my solace in these troubled political times, so much so, that I’m reading much more Romance this year as compared with previous years.
Do you have a favourite storyline or plot? And do you have one you will not read?
I’m not a fan of paranormals or the very hot trends. I’m pretty much a vanilla reader, mainly historicals and some contemporaries. My favorite storyline is the Marriage of Convenience coupled with Protagonist Competence. A close second favorite is friends to lovers. This is true of Regency/Georgian, Medieval, and American Westerns time periods.
I’m a huge fan of tender romance and a slow build-up of relationship awareness. I’m not a fan of insta-lust/love, however, there are skilled authors who can make me like anything. I’m very pleased with where the genre is going with diversity — it can do much, much better, but I’m glad the conversation is heading that way.
Why do you/don’t you use a public library?
I LOVE MY LIBRARY!!! I usually spend 1-2 days there, after I’ve dropped the kids off and before I need to pick up the kids, reviewing, editing, and writing. I have a special desk there that I love, next to a huge wall of windows and with a convenient electric outlet for my laptop charger. My library frowns upon loud talking or eating — Hurrah! — and my only oral accompaniment to my library activities is a bottle of water. I borrow most of the books I read, other than the ones I receive as ARCs.
Do you RUI*. If so, what?
I hardly ever drink these days — may be a couple of times a month, if that, and it’s always when I’m out to dinner or a party. So the reading is free from the influence of alcohol. However, these days, my reading might be under the influence of Tylenol — I’m being plagued by headaches.
Do you have a favourite reading spot?
I do most of my reading lying down in bed after the kids have gone to bed. It’s uninterrupted time when I can relax and allow my mind to stop worrying about the minutiae and just roam the world of make-believe. It’s such bliss. However, my books also travel with me all day long if there’s ever a time when I need to be waiting for something. I do plenty of reading then, too (if I can resist Twitter on my phone).
Never, ever, ever. I get in there, do my business, and get out of there. I can’t imagine sitting there reading. And now, you have me wondering which of the library books currently on my nightstand have been in other people’s toilets. I hope those people washed their hands.
Romance fiction of the Happily Ever After (not the love tragedy) kind – are you a Lover or a Hater and why?
It’s not Romance if there’s no HEA/HFN at the end of it. To me, that is the definition of genre Romance; anything else is a love story. While, for general, women’s, or children’s fiction, I don’t expect a HEA, I like stories which end on an uptick in positivity. I don’t like stories that are all negative, with no hope for humanity. I believe that people basically seek happiness in life no matter what gets thrown at them, and I like fiction that reflects that.
What would you give up reading for**?
Nothing! Reading brings me my greatest pleasure in life. It has been my constant partner in tough times, in lean times, and in joyful moments. I would not be the person I am today without books, and I cannot imagine wanting to know the future me who doesn’t read.
Can a romance/crime/super/etc hero be the driver of a hatchback?
Absolutely. I don’t judge a friend by their wheels, why would I judge a hero by his? Besides, a hatchback says that he’s comfortable being a family man AND being a hardy sporty guy (skiing, snowboarding, cycling, and mountain climbing). ::swoon::