Today, I’m delighted to interview passionate M/M blogger and reviewer Cryselle Compton. She loves the M/M genre and you’ll greatly benefit from the insights and resources she shares. If you’re looking for one of the best resources out there on what M/M books you should read, I highly recommend you check her blog!
Tell us about you and your gay romance blog. Where can we read it?
Having a blog at all for me is a triumph of hope over technology: I needed a lot of hand holding at first. I reviewed for a while at Dark Divas, and then went to Jessewave’s. I had to stop blogging for a while because of my health, but I’ve been pretty consistent with the reviews since getting better.
I (my trusty techies, that is) just upgraded the domain recently to make Cryselle’s Bookshelf easier to find, so check www.crysellesbookshelf.com
What got you started as a m/m blogger or reviewer?
I started reviewing m/m romance a couple of years ago when a friend got me started reading it. I’d never read much het romance, since there always seemed to be at least one huge headbanger of a plot point or trope, so I resisted for a while. But I got hooked. Since I’m full of opinions, I had to yack about my new favorite genre, which I did all by myself until Manic Readers connected me with Dark Divas. It grew from there.
Why are you passionate about reading and reviewing m/m books?
Love is love, above all. I just don’t like a lot of the dumb tropes of het romance. M/M doesn’t have the same cultural baggage, or shouldn’t, and I get mad when it gets dragged into a book with two male protags. These are guys. They do things differently than women do.
I read at least four books a week, and two of them are m/m. I know a couple of authors in the genre in RL, who made me aware of the value of reviews. And since I’m full of opinions anyway, I started writing them down.
Many of my readers love reading m/m blogs but what makes yours unique compared to others?
I’ve been reviewing a lot of indie work lately, which showcases voices outside the genre publishers, though I certainly still read their offerings. Also I post a prompt pic every Thursday, hoping that someone has an excerpt or a ficlet to go with it. When someone takes me up on that, I post it with their news and links and covers. A couple of authors were so inspired by the prompts that they wrote stories they could publish.
Define success as a m/m blogger and reviewer.
One of my reviews got quoted in someone’s front matter! Of course I said something positive because it was a great read, but still… Someone at the publisher thought my opinion mattered. Of course, I would like to have more traffic and more interaction on the posts, but who wouldn’t? I have another reviewer coming on board, which is a first too. Feliz, also from Jessewave’s, said she’ll be dropping in with reviews now and then.I’d like to grow the audience, because I think these books have something to add to the world.
What are some of the best m/m books you’ve read this year?
I’ve read some good ones! Spokes, from P.D. Singer, is set in bicycle racing, and has a major conflict that isn’t “pro is in the closet”. The Diversion series (Diversion, Collusion, Corruption, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the upcoming Manipulation) from Eden Winters kept me engrossed in illicit drugs and hot narcotics agents. Double Up from Vanessa North introduced me to wakeboarding and showed how a damaged guy can fall in love again. Dreams by James Erich is YA fantasy, the first in an imaginative trilogy. And Out of the Gate from EM Lynley gave me an actor and a horse trainer falling in love.
What would you like to see more in m/m literature you don’t see now?
I absolutely love books where there’s a fully developed external plot entwined with the romance arc. I love the romance arc, but I really don’t want the whole word count spent on it, as so many books do. Some folks love those, so this is my personal taste. The entwined part is important: it can’t be squashed in there in lumps that don’t connect with the romance.
What advice can you give to aspiring m/m reviewers and bloggers?
It’s easy to regurgitate the plot and call it a review, but that’s a book report and not even 4th grade teachers want to read those. It’s harder to actually figure out what moved you and why. I got a much better handle on reviewing after reading this: http://www.rarelydustybooks.com/2011/03/happy-gay-friday-my-thoughts-on-art-of.html Once you know yourself well enough to know which of the seven elements matter the most to you, you can review with them in mind.
Also: no snark. It’s a book, it’s not an opportunity to show off how mean and witty you can be at someone else’s expense.