The Shallows are back! Having taken a slightly longer hiatus than I planned, I am splashing back into the shallows with a post that I have anticipated for a long time – today, Miss Bates Reads Romance is answering my questions. I first met Miss Bates over on Twitter in 2013 and I am going to be effusive. The two of us clicked immediately. We both love romance fiction. Neither of us are fans of smexxy books. We both love Patrick Leigh Fermor. We are both Greek but with that cynicism and deep love of our heritage that makes it a sensitive area to navigate. We are both Orthodox, and Miss Bates has rekindled my long dormant interest in our shared belief, and I am especially thankful for her introducing me to the wry Sister Vassa. Just a few months ago, we finally met in person, and all I can say is that she was more wonderful than her wonderful online self. She is the friend, that had we met at school, we would have been κολως και βρακη (bum in undies or bosom buddies). We just absolutely clicked. I absolutely adore her. And one day, the two of us will write a romance with a proper dancing Greek hero/λεβεντη. But in the meantime, I will share her wit and wisdom……
Miss Bates Reads Romance
Can you describe yourself?
Miss Bates of the romance review blog, Miss Bates Reads Romance, works in education and spends her day tutoring, teaching, advising, and mentoring. By night and by summer, Miss B. reads, reads, reads, and blogs about her favourite genre: romance! She got her blogging moniker from a colleague as she sat musing a blog name. The colleague exclaimed, “Miss Bates!” and MBRR was born. It fit, as MissB is known to talk up a storm and lives with her long-suffering, precocious mum.
Miss Bates also loves a good cozy, woo-woo gothic, and any hybrid thereof, always with a good dose of romance. Though she’s been quiet about it so far, she reads a lot of non-fiction, mainly history, politics, and current events. Lately, she’s thinking of branching out to write about non-romance reading on her blog.
With Vassiliki, she shares a love of their common Greek heritage, with its penchant for story-telling and rhetorical flourish, romance reading and critique, twirly Greek dancing, and the state of education in their former British colonies.
What is your main reading medium (books, blogs, games, news, etc) and how much time do you spend reading a week?
Oh gosh, if I’m not reading in one form or another, then I’m probably asleep! I read for work and pleasure. My main medium is Kindle romance-reading, but I read paper books too. When I read non-fiction, in particular, which I enjoy second to romance-reading, I read physical copies. Presently, I’m reading Patrick Leigh Fermor’s A Time To Keep Silence, a beautiful little meditation on monastic life. I have his two great travel books to read next, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and Water.
I don’t read as many romance blogs as I used to, but I still adore and anticipate Wendy’s The Misadventures of Super Librarian, and, of course, never miss a “Shallows” post. But the days of daily navigation to romance review blogs are gone and I miss them horribly. I’ve connected with romance readers on Twitter and that holds me in good stead.
What or who is your joyful reading (guilty or otherwise) pleasure?
I think all reading is joyful and pleasurable when conducted for one’s enjoyment. I do a lot of research reading for work and I enjoy that too because I’m engaged. I think engagement is the joy and pleasure reading offers, the meeting of two minds, writer and reader.
Do you have a favourite storyline or plot? And do you have one you will not read?
I guess it depends on what genre I’m reading. My main fiction reading is romance, so I do have trope-ish preferences and dislikes. I will read anything friends-to-lovers in contemporary and historical cross-class, though rarely done well, is a favourite. For cross-class, Rose Lerner is masterful, In For A Penny, Sweet Disorder, and True Pretences are all wow roms. This may stem from my great LOVE for Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
I won’t read HFN, it’s simply dissatisfying and I don’t give a fig for verisimilitude in romance. Even a hint of infidelity is the kiss of romance death … and yet, I never say never in rom-reading because an ace rom-writer convinces me otherwise. For example, Mary Balogh’s Counterfeit Betrothal is a favourite and has infidelity as the source of the married couple’s estrangement.
I also adore hist-fic with romantic elements and a good dose of mystery, especially of the ghostly, or gothic variety. I love Susanna Kearsley and C. S. Harris, who, I think, have written some of the best of this hybrid-genre. I’ve been listening to Davina Porter’s narration of Harris’s Regency-set Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries-with-a-strong-dose-of-rom and they are brilliant, the marriage of books and narration are as good as listening to Juliet Stevenson’s narration of Austen’s Emma, another audiobook favourite.
Why do you/don’t you use a public library?
I don’t use a public library, though university libraries are some of my favourite places in the world. I studied and wrote in libraries, fell in love, flirted, and read Derrida for the first time. So many wonderful library-memories. I also have great fondness for my elementary school library where I spent many happy hours and also borrowed books for home. Our local public children’s library served the same purpose over the summer. I don’t use a library presently. When I emerged from grad-school poverty, I promised myself the one indulgence I would gift myself was the desire to buy books.
Do you RUI*. If so, what?
I always read in the evenings and have a glass of wine with dinner, but its effects are non-existent on reading, at least for me.
Do you have a favourite reading spot?
I have two favourite readings spots, I like to read on my comfy couches and in bed.
Not really, not per se. However, I do read during my nightly bathtub soak. Always paper, of course; don’t want to drop the Kindle in the bath-water. Presently, I’m reading Eva Ibbotson’s The Company Of Swans and it’s gloriously good.
Romance fiction of the Happily Ever After (not the love tragedy) kind – are you a Lover or a Hater and why?
I am most definitely a lover. Romance fiction is the bulk of my fiction reading.
What would you give up reading for**?
On a practical personal level, NOTHING!
Can a romance/crime/super/etc hero be the driver of a hatchback?
A hero’s car isn’t what makes him a hero. (I guess a beta might drive a hatchback …) A description I’ve noted in contemporary romance: when a hero drives a less than billionaire-alpha vehicle, the author makes a point of telling the reader, or the heroine notices, that the car is neat and well-kept. Because the romance genre’s lodestar is virtue; care, cleanliness, order, a certain fastidiousness distinguish the beta-hero’s car. If a hero drives a hatchback, his clean fishing, running, dog’s, etc., gear would be neatly arranged in the hatch! And the heroine would be pleased.