Kassia Krozser, cofounder of Medialoper.com, is the blogger over at Booksquare. She’s a member of the Lit-blog Co-op, and often writes for Romancing the Blog and Paperbackreader.net.
Simon Owens: I’ve noticed that your blog seems to focus a lot more on women writers than the average book blog. Do you think that women authors aren’t well represented in the book reviews that come out every year?
Kassia Krozser: I focus on women writers because, obviously, I’m female and my personal bias is toward women writers. As the daughter of a librarian, I was privileged to have a lot of fiction shoved under my bedroom door, and when I look back at the works that spoke to me and — most importantly — stuck with me, they were largely written by women. I also come from the romance community, and, again, it’s been my privilege to work with women who are serious about their writing. As one who has failed miserably to write for Harlequin, I know that what seems so easy on the surface is actually the product of hard work. I take all fiction equally seriously, but, yes, I have a definite bias toward women and their writing. Which leads to your question…
Oh my gosh, yes. For a while there, I was bored and started counting the male to female ratio in the Los Angeles Times Book Review section (it’s my local paper). It was disturbing, both from the perspective books written by women that were reviewed and from the perspective of number of female reviewers. I remember the blow-up last year about women on opinion pages, and there was a lot of discussion about the editors tapping into what they know. I think that happens everywhere, and it’s not necessarily a deliberate move on the part of editors. Luckily, we have a lot of options available to us as readers when it comes to learning about great reads.
I also, yes, believe there’s a serious bias against commercial fiction. I think it’s a shame that good writing is being defined in narrow terms. First off, it dismisses a large portion of the reading audience. Second, it arbitrarily labels certain fiction as “good.” I have an issue with this because publishers slot books based on commercial assessments — it’s hard for hardcore literary types to accept this (heck, it’s hard for me to accept this because I have this crazy notion that talent is talent). Publishers decide how to market books.
Simon Owens: Do you think that the rise of book blogs will allow small presses to flourish more than before?
Kassia Krozser: Absolutely. Shelf space in bookstores is necessarily limited, and in the past, if you didn’t know how to find what you wanted, you wouldn’t. Book blogs are terrific because we (the bloggers) all have our individual obsessions, from translated works to romance novels, and we can focus intently on our favorite writing. In turn, our audiences overlap and expand. The blogosphere is often called incestuious, and I think that’s a great thing. While I might not love everything Blogger X discusses, all it takes is one book for me to share with my audience.
Small presses are using blogs in a good way. They’re approaching us and starting to encourage their writers to reach out to bloggers and their audiences. Developing a relationship with readers is a critical task for authors, and book tours are notoriously expensive. It makes perfect sense to reach out to willing communities via blogs.
Simon Owens:What are some of your favorite small presses that you’ve highlighted on your blog?
Kassia Krozser: I am madly in love with Unbridled. I’ve truly enjoyed everything I’ve read from them — it’s that trust thing again. When they send me a book, I put it on my “Read Now” list. It’s funny because New York publishers are just now getting the idea that they need to be branding themselves, but I’m not seeing a real distinction. Unbridled really stands out because of their openness, their great communications, and excellent books.
Simon Owens: Have you noticed any new major genre trends in publishing over the last few years?
Kassia Krozser: Other than the trend toward erotica? All the major publishing houses are actively seeking erotic imprints. As an industry-watcher, I find it fascinating because they’re following a trend that developed online; erotica has been a huge seller in the e-publishing community, and the New York houses have decided that they want a piece of the action. Of course, when everyone jumps on the bandwagon — see: chicklit — you tend to have oversaturation and a necessary decline in quality. Let’s face it, not everyone can write good erotica. It’s a lot more than sex, you know.
I think there’s also a return to magic in fiction. Books like Jeffrey Ford’s The Girl In The Glass add a slight paranormal aspect that allows the reader to abandon this world we inhabit and walk into something entirely different. For years now, we’ve seen a return to vampires and other non-human beings, but — and maybe this is just what I’m picking up for my own reading — there seems to be more subtle magic happening in fiction. I like that trend (if it is a trend and not just wishful thinking on my part).
Simon Owens: What upcoming book publications are you looking forward to the most?
Kassia Krozser: I am really excited about Carolyn Turgeon’s Rain Village (from, yes, Unbridled). It’s a story about reading, running away to join the circus, and growing up just a little different than everybody else on the block. The story mixes deeply intense emotional issues with a touch of magic — and I think we all need a little magic in our lives.
Simon Owens: What are the five blogs you’d recommend to supplement the reading of your own?
Kassia Krozser: I have so many sites that I read on a daily basis. Here are five, though I will say that my blogroll is a great start…and then you can move on to the blogrolls of everyone I link to…and so on. I’m going to be a bit self-promoting here –
1. Medialoper – This is actually a sister site for Booksquare. I started this site with some friends because Booksquare is deliberately focused on books and publishing, and I am also deeply interested in all aspects of new media. It’s our way of cutting back on the ranting and raving in the backyard, or, rather, moving the ranting and raving to the Internet.
2. Romancing The Blog – The best of the best on the romance genre. Yes, I write for them, too.
3. PaperbackReader – Smart, insightful reviews. The focus is women’s fiction. It is the perfect counter to the LATBR — we have a great team of reviewers.
4. GalleyCat – Like Booksquare, this blog focuses on the publishing industry. Sarah Weinman of Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind and Ron Hogan of Beatrice have made this a must-read for me.
5. if:book – if:book looks at reading and writing from an academic perspective, with a focus on new technology. Sounds dull and dry — I promise you that it is not.
(Related posts: Interview with Myfanwy Collins from Read by Myfanwy, Interview with Wendi Kaufman from The Happy Booker, Interview with Bud Parr from Chekhov’s Mistress, Interview with Traver Kauffman from Rake’s Progress)