Interview with Blogger Brandilyn Carpenter

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Brandilyn Carpenter runs the Prism Book Alliance alongside 16 other lovers of m/m books. Together they host a site where there are great reviews and the occasional giveaway. If you’re looking for a great place to see reviews of m/m books, check out this blog.

I would like to thank Jamie Lake for inviting the Prism Book Alliance team to talk today.  I hope you enjoy what we have to say 🙂 

Tell us about you and your blog. Where can we find it?

The where is easy: http://www.prismbookalliance.com

Our tagline is “Celebrating diversity through literature.” We are a review blog that focuses on GLBTQ literature. We will consider for review any title, new or old, that features one or more main characters that would fall on the GLBTQ spectrum. While reviews are, at the core, our main focus, we also want to promote GLBTQ literature in any way we can including hosting authors for guest spots and discussing the relevant issues.  Currently I would estimate that M/M and Gay Fiction accounts for 95% or more of our reviews.

We have 17 reviewers who review anywhere from once every few months to once or twice a day.  We cover most sub-genres and tropes within M/M Romance and Gay fiction. The prism team is:

Brandilyn – That is me

Adriana

Beverley 

Caroline

Christine

Feliz

Josie Goodreads

LeatherSkater – Our resident smart ass 😉 

Leisa

Lirtle Grafton

Madame Aus – coming soon

Optimist *King’s Wench* 

Paisley

PizzyGirl

Shelby

Teresa

Ulysses

How often do you post m/m reviews?

As a site, we post, on average, 30-40 m/m and LGBTQ reviews a week Monday – Saturday. 

Brandilyn: My goal is 6 a week, sometimes I have more, sometimes I have fewer.

Josie: 1 a week

Feliz: 1-3 a month

PizzyGirl: I post as often as RL will allow. My goal is 5 each week if I have the reading material and the time. 

Ulysses: Two or three times a week, depending on how much I’ve read.

Leisa: Lately I’ve been a bit slower than usual since “real life” has interfered with my reviewing, but I usually post reviews weekly.

Beverley: How often I post reviews depends on several things: 

Availability of titles I would like to review, there is no point in my picking a Regency novel, as I don’t generally enjoy them and we have reviewers who do.

Real Life issues. Pesky Real life gets in the way of reading sometimes, which will slow down the number I review.

Writing commitments as an author myself, under a pen name, I sometimes have to listen to the muse.

Oh and whether they are novellas or long novels!

Having said that it ranges between 8 – 17 per month although I think I’m flagging this month lol.

Christine: I have averaged about 6 reviews per month since I started with PBA in February.

Why are you passionate about reading and reviewing m/m books?

Brandilyn: In short, I love this genre and I think it is an incredibly important genre with the ability to open people’s eyes and make them change the way they see the world. I fully believe what Dreamspinner Press author Andrew Grey said at RainbowCon 2014, the literature leads the way. It isn’t a coincidence that the rise in the acceptance of GLBTQ fiction has paralleled the acceptance of GLBTQ in society and the fight for equality.  The other answer is I love and am fascinated the dynamics in a male/male relationship (and I am not talking about what goes on between the sheets, up against the wall, in the shower.. etc).  My final answer is that something about the genre just fits for me.  I have found some really great friends through this genre that I hope will be part of my life for years to come.

Josie: I love the romance element of two characters in love who are equal, something you don’t see in het romance. As both characters are men there is no pre existing roles that are defined, both characters can be whatever the author wants them to be. 

Feliz: I’ve fallen in love with the genre ever since I first stumbled upon it. But there are so many books coming out every week; I sometimes have a hard time deciding what to read next, and I’ve got neither time nor money for books that I end up DNF’ing. So I use blogs to hep me decide, and I fugured, hey there must be other people out there with the same problems, why not lend a hand myself?  AND if I come across a book that I really really like, I want to shout it from the rooftops. Getting caught up in a fantastic story is such a pure joy, I want to share the experience – after all, a great book is a treat that is totally moral, legal and doesn’t make you fat ;-))

PizzyGirl: I believe this world is stuck in the stone ages in some respects. Society as a whole is not accepting of those things they are unaware or afraid of. By reading and reviewing LGBTQ books, I can do my part to  make more people aware of this culture and show that it is not abnormal, it is just unknown. Once it becomes more widely known, the world will see that everyone is equal no matter who they love. 

Ulysses: As a late-middle-aged gay man, I’ve felt invisible forever in terms of mainstream presses. I’m also a romantic, so m/m fiction scratches both my itches…to see a world where gay men live and love, and thereby feel less invisible.

Leisa: I just love M/M books, and I am so impressed with the caliper of authors in the genre and the quality of many of the books. I feel that by providing honest reviews, I am supporting the genre and hopefully elevating the truly great authors and books by encouraging readers to buy and read their work.

Beverley: I am passionate about LGBTQIA etc fiction because there are so many really good writers in this genre who never make the ‘big bucks’ because mainstream readers either won’t go near ‘the gay stuff’ or because they simply don’t know about it, as gay fiction is sidelined. I also think that whilst reading about subjects with gay characters is considered ‘outside’ the norm acceptance of gay people in society will also remain outside the norm too which is where intolerance and bullying lies. I love reading gay fiction in all forms because it adds a dimension that a lot of het popular titles have lost – namely originality. I also wish to help promote UK writers as we’re not as good as our US cousins in promotion but we write bloody well!  

Christine: I cut my teeth on het romance when I was in 6th grade during the mid 70’s.  To say that there have been astronomical changes in the romance genre since then would be an understatement, particularly when it comes to m/m stories. I kind of stumbled upon this genre while reading a menage book several years ago, and it struck me as so very different than the het romance I had been reading.  There was something even more beautiful and powerful when two men were celebrating their attraction and love for one another.  Since that first foray into the genre, I have met authors, fellow readers, and passionate reviewers like myself who love to acknowledge the beauty of m/m romance and the LGBTQ community as a whole.  I have never met a more accepting, nonjudgmental, and supportive group of people than I have in this community, and I am proud to be an ally in celebrating those within it and the relationships they embrace.  Love is love.  It’s universal and the most positive force I can imagine.  Stories that honor and exalt the diversity of loving relationships and raise awareness of their validity deserve to be shared and praised, and I feel blessed to be able to do that.

When did you start blogging?

Brandilyn: Personally, I started blogging almost 3 years ago.  I converted to book blogging about 2 years ago and started Prism Book Alliance as we know it today on 1 Jan 2014.  I started expanding the team in November of 2013, however.

Josie: Christmas 2011, when I started reviewing for Mrs Condits. I did post reviews on Goodreads before that, since 2010. 

Feliz: Officially in 2009, with Jessewave’s.

PizzyGirl: I started with Mrs. Condit and Friends in February of 2014. When her blog retired, I moved over to Prism Book Alliance and have been blogging with this new group ever since. 

Ulysses: Do I blog? Oh, Prism. (Brandilyn will have to answer that!)

Leisa:  I’ve been blogging about a year.

Beverley: I was one of the original reviewers who helped Brandilyn create PBA from her original blog so that will be a year in Nov/Dec?

Christine: I started reviewing for PBA in February of this year without having had any prior blogging experience, save for the reviews I had written on Goodreads and Amazon.  So, about seven months! 🙂

Many of my readers love reading m/m blogs but what makes yours unique compared to others?

Brandilyn:  I take this question in so many different directions.  I could say that we talk about the good and the bad, we strive for honesty and practicality in our reviews, and we work to promote the genre in any way we can.  I could say that the diversity of our group makes us great — we all love and loathe different things in the genre.  I could say so much more, but I want to focus on some of the “Extras” we offer.

While we are, at our core, a review site for m/m romance and other LGBT literature, we offer so much more.   Some of our monthly/weekly columns include:

Five Thing Friday – This is just a fun way to get to know all the reviewers at Prism Book Alliance. Each week we tackle a different topic

Sunday Spotlight – Every Sunday one or more of the Prism Book Alliance reviewers will tackle a topic relevant to the genre. It could be serious or fun, current event or a diversion. You never know what we will cover until we cover it.

Outside the Margins – We kicked off this really great column in August that we have chosen to call Outside the Margins. We have asked some of our favorite authors and people to talk to our readers once a month about a topic that is dear to them. We have given them free reign on these, so we never know what they will cover. Our OTM authors include Brandon Witt, Diana Copland, Johnny Williams, Sue Brown, L Dean Pace-Frech, Dorien Grey, JP Barnaby, Christopher Koehler, and RJ Scott.

Josie: Prism has a very diverse set of reviewers, we all like different things. 

Feliz: Prism is neat, the reviews are short and to the point, and there’s so much fun stuff like the Five Things Fridays, Blog tours, interviews, giveaways…also, the reviewer crew is fairly large, so you get a lot of different opinions and voices.

PizzyGirl: I have to admit, that I have not visited any other M/M blogs so I cannot answer this. Maybe I should rectify this 

Leisa:  I think Prism is unique since we have several reviewers with varied backgrounds and interests. I also think we unfailingly offer honest reviews without being unduly mean.

Beverley: I like to think that our blog is trustworthy above all things we tell the truth. I know some blogs will only produce positive reviews and send back work they can’t give high ratings to. I feel that is sycophantic and is unfair to both readers and authors. We never denigrate an author’s work, but if our read was spoiled because of plot holes or gratuitous sex or ideas that simply don’t make sense, then it should be a reviewers job to point these things out so a reader can judge whether that matters to them and an author can take some positive criticism away to work with the next time.

Christine: I love the diversity of our reviewers.  There is a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, and experiences that make our collective group vastly different, I believe.  Because of this, we review books over a wide range of sub genres, and I find the contributions of my colleagues on the site to be incredibly helpful selecting titles for my personal shelves. We each have our own style of presenting our view of a story and are supportive of each other on the site and on a more personal basis.  I feel quite fortunate to have that familial connection with my PBA team.

What are some of the best m/m books that you’ve read all year?

Each month we reward the best of the best with the Prism Recommended Reads so that is a good place to start.  I also put this question to the Prism team to see what they had to say.

Brandilyn: This is such a loaded question. I have read somewhere in the vicinity of 350 books so far this year and 349 of those are m/m or gay fiction.  The titles that keep coming back to me time and again are Tales from Foster High and it’s sequels by John Goode (a YA Contemporary), By That Sin Fell the Angels by Jamie Fessenden, and The Race for Second by Chase Potter.

Josie: I’m currently loving the Thirds series by Charlie Cochet. I loved Return on Investment by Aleksandr Voinov and the Sinners Gin series by Rhys Ford. 

Feliz: Home The Hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield, Damaged Package by SA McAuley, Think of England by KJ Charles, A Threefold Cord by Julie Bozza, The Mnevermind Series by Jordan Castillo Price, and A Matter of When by Eden Winters (not yet released, but yay, I got to beta it and this is shameless promotion!)

PizzyGirl: Wicked Winds by Havan Fellows; The Pulp Friction 2014 series by Laura Harner, Lee Brazil, Havan Fellow, TA Webb; Venomous Mates series by Jackie Nacht; Loving Jayewww.prismbookalliance.com by Renae Kaye, The Broken Road Cafe Series by TA Webb

Ulysses: Harper Fox is always the best. I’ve been discovering male writers of m/m fiction…we’re a growing minority as writers and readers.

Leisa: Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford, Shiny! by Amy Lane, A Better Man by Jaime Reese

Beverley: I think (although I will probably miss out some really great ones…) Tyack and Frayne series by Harper Fox; Memorizing You by Dan Skinner; Torsere Series by Annabelle Jacobs; John and Jackie by TJ Klune; Chasing Sunrise by Lex Chase are just a few!

Christine: Wow!  I have read an amazing selection of great m/m titles so far this year, so I will simply list my favorites without giving a lot of detail:  Queers by AJ Rose; Lavender Rose by Theo Fenraven; Aaron, Painting Fire on the Air, and A Heart for Robbie all by JP Barnaby; Mnevermind 1 & 2 by Jordan Castillo Price; This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet and so so many more.

What would you like to see more of in m/m literature that you don’t see now?

Brandilyn: I know I am going to be crucified for this, but I want to see less sex and more plot.  I love a good sexy time here and there when it serves to move the plot forward, but I find many of the scenes are there just to be there and are included at the expense of plot.

Feliz: I really have a hard time answering this, because there’s already so much diversity out there. Great characters and stories that vibrate with sexual tension without having to resort to lengthy detailed descriptions of the MCs having sex like KJ Charles’ or AJ Rose’s Lovingly woven storylines with just the right mix of humor and heartbreak like Eden Winters’ and SA Mc Auley’s. Quirky, quiet, enthralling plots like Julie Bozza’s. Oh, and good mysteries/ thrillers are always welcome.

PizzyGirl: More average MCs. Many M/M stories focus on perfect physical appearance. I know that this is popular in this culture, but there is so much more. There are many gay men who are not physically perfect and who are insecure about themselves who find love too. I see this growing, but would like to see more of it. 

Ulysses: More gay male writers (no criticism of anyone, really! It’s about seeing m/m as a genre embraced by the gay world more than it is); more complexity in terms of relationship building. Plus, I think I’d like more paranormal/fantasy things. Vampire stories that aren’t about monsters, etc.

Leisa: Delicious stories … stories that are enhanced by the romance between the main characters, but in which the romance isn’t the story itself.

Beverley: I hate to say it but I’d like to see more plot. There is a danger that m/m romance will become all Gay fiction is and that is wrong. Sex is not what defines gay people and it shouldn’t be what defines gay fiction. It is the liminality of gay fiction which gives the interest and the facet I want to see explored not just endless sex scenes. When I say I write gay fiction the most common response I get is a giggle and ‘Do you mean gay porn?’ I would like that reaction to change.

Christine: I would like to see more transgender and gender-fluid characters in m/m literature.  I believe this would bring even more enlightenment and awareness to this beautifully diverse genre.

Do your readers prefer excerpts, interviews, cover reveals or reviews?

To be perfectly honest, they love anything with a giveaway.  We get the most traffic on Interviews and guest posts. 

Where Can Readers Find Out more about Prism Book Alliance?

On the Blog of course: http://www.prismbookalliance.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/prismbookalliance

Twitter: @BrandilynRC

Tumblr: http://brandilynrc.tumblr.com

How can Authors contact Prism Book Alliance to have their book reviewed or to make a guest appearance?

We are already on the review list for many of the major M/M publishers, but are always happy to consider for review individual, series, and backlist titles regardless of publisher.  We are also happy to host authors in the genre new and old. 

We have a handy dandy little contact us form that will take care of all your contact needs: http://www.prismbookalliance.com/contact-us/

It is seriously the easiest, fastest way to get in contact with us 🙂

Be sure to check out our submission guidelines.

Jamie Lake is the author of Bad Boy: Naughty at Night and other m/m gay romance novels.

      

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