Interview with Blogger Warren Collen

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Warren Collen reviews on GGR-Reviews alongside other book lovers. The blog has many reviews, cover reveals, and the occasional guest post. If you like reviews, definitely check out this blog.

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

I am Warren Collen from just north of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am 60 years old and physically disabled. I am into classical music, being outside, and I love to cook. I have been very active in musical theatre, civic opera, and bands and choirs all my life. I played French horn in high school and college, and have played piano all my life. I had lessons for 7 years when I was very young. My voice is where I am most accomplished. I had lessons in college, but by that time, I had been doing solos and ensemble music for so long, the only thing we worked on was my operatic vocal usage.
I enjoy nature very much. I love camping and canoeing. I used to do a lot of hiking and fishing, but haven’t done as much fishing lately, and no hiking, as my hips and knees won’t put up with it any longer.
I worked in restaurants or retail most of my life; Barnes and Noble for 13 years, and all forms of restaurant work, from dishwasher and busser to waiter, and finally manager.
I review books for GGR-Reviews. The link to the blog is http://www.ggr-review.com, and my personal page for all the reviews I have done is http://www.ggr-review.com/warren-collen/. I have done somewhere around 100 reviews, and still going strong.

How often are m/m reviews posted?

My reviews are posted often. I am an avid reader, so when I finish reading and writing a review of a book, I send it to GGR-Reviews where they appear. There is no set amount, so Scott just posts them whenever he has an opening.

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

I have been a reader all my life. I like to be informed, and consider myself well-read. I discovered m/m books many years ago when The Frontrunner by Patricia Nell Warren first came out. After that, I found many others that I enjoyed, including The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and The Lord Won’t Mind series by Gordon Merrick.
I have been really excited lately about the gaining popularity of m/m books, and wanted to become involved in the promotion of the books that have become available and when I found the reviewing position, I jumped at it. I figured as long as I read as much as I do, I might as well put it to some good use, so starting doing my reviews for GGR-R. I want to make it easier for readers to determine what book/s they would like to read to fit their tastes or interests.

When did you start blogging?

I started blogging back in December, I think it was. I had a friend who had seen a post asking for help reviewing m/m books from Scott at GGR-R. That really sounded fun to me, and thought it would give me something to do, so I sent Scott a message. He sent me a book to read and review which I did, sent it back to him, and the rest is history.

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

I like to think that the reason my reviews are accepted so positively is that I am honest and real. After I read the book, I sit back and think about it for a few minutes, then just start typing. I give a short blurb of the book in my own words, tell what I did or didn’t like about the book and why, and then give it a rating that I feel best fits the book. I try not to be negative, because that is helpful to no one. And I believe that if I have negative feelings about a book, I should do my very best to explain exactly why I feel this way, hopefully helping the readers, but also helping the author understand why I feel the way I do.

What would you consider to be some of the best m/m books you have read this year?

The first book that comes to mind with this question is Violence Begets… by PT Denys. What an amazing book. It is a very modern take of Romeo and Juliet in my opinion, but is so heartbreaking that I couldn’t get it out of my mind for a long time. I still talk about it constantly.
Another book is Caged: Love and Treachery on the High Seas by Bey Deckard. I love historical fiction, and this story of pirates and adventure I found to be extremely fun and a great read.
I can’t not mention Charles Raines trilogy, Dicing with Danger, Stranger in Translation, and Falling for Forever. I found these completely different than any books I had read. They are deep, mysterious, and filled with nuance that is just amazing to follow.
I have loved the series that Erin O’Quinn, Rain Carrington, Lynn Kelling, and Jack Pyke have written. Each has something I either like, or brought out something about myself that I didn’t know, like my BDSM fantasies. I had not had them before reading Lynn Kelling and Rain Carrington.
Another series that requires my comment is the Pray the Gay Away series by Sara York. I truly believe that this series will go a long way in helping young people to see that they are not the only ones that go through true hardships, but that they can be overcome by perseverance and help for support groups, friends, or professionals.
The last, but absolutely not the least of the books I have read recently is Death in Venice, CA by Vinton Rafe McCabe. This book is a rewrite of the Thomas Mann book, and is done so well, and is so unexpected that I just couldn’t put it down.
There are many, many others I could mention here. There are so many great books being written now days, and if I tried to name them all, we would be going through my list. I will leave that for your readers to do.
Again, just go to http://www.ggr-review.com/warren-collen/, and you can see all the books that I have reviewed, as well as the rest of the wonderful reviewers we have writing for us.

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

I would love to see more epic stories, historical novels based on real life people. I know there are some, but I think this is one area that has much greater potential. I love books that have been thoroughly researched and you learn something as you read. James Michener was really good at this, and I would like to see this type of heavier novel on the m/m market.
I would also like to see more of the writing that makes you think, instead of just easy reads. Charles Raines is one of the few writers that I have found that really put this into my head. I like psychological thrillers/mysteries that keep you in suspense, keep you guessing, and make you think with the nuances that a brilliant author can utilize in a great book. <
The last thing I have to say may get me in trouble, but I would like to have longer books that finish a story, not short books in a continuing saga that have cliff hangers. I am not fond of these. Part of the reason is that if it takes a year or more for a follow-up, I may not remember it, or have lost interest. I don’t mind series if each book ends that part of the story. Then I can pick up the next as I feel, and know that I don’t have to reread the last one to remember what has happened and what the cliff-hanger was.

Do your readers prefer: excerpts, interview, cover reveals, or reviews?

This question may very well best be answered by Scott who is the owner of GGR-Reviews. My own readers prefer reviews, because that is what I do. It makes me happy, and I think that shows in my writing. I have some very wonderful followers who let me know they like my reviews and appreciate the honesty I use. Most times I find that people agree with me on my review, and this just makes it more rewarding to do. I do know that readers and followers of GGR-R like the interviews and giveaways that we do, and appreciate the cover reveals as they are getting a sneak peek into the books that are coming out.

Thank you very much for asking me to do this Jamie, and for the wonderful questions. I tend to run at the mouth when given the chance, so hope I didn’t bore your readers too much. I hope this gives you a little insight into what I do, and I hope that I have gotten across how much I love doing it. There are so many books out there that look good, and I would love to be able to read them all, but Scott gives me the freedom to choose the ones I want to read usually, so it makes it more fun for me. When I don’t have the choice, it’s usually because the book needs to be read fast for a release date posting or a certain date that where there is a deadline.

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

      

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