Reader interview: Kelsey Bryant, from Texas!
E. Kaiser: Thanks so much for joining us here on E. Kaiser Writes-A-Blog! As a reader, I know there are a lot of personal opinions involved in what you enjoy, and what you hate, and I do love a good opinion. (Especially if it's personal. ;-) )
So, tell us yours!
Kelsey: Thank you so much for putting out the call for interviews! I've never been interviewed before ... it makes me feel ... *special*. ;-)
Oh, good, permission to be opinionated! Sometimes I try to soften my opinions, but it is terribly unfair to expect people to suppress their opinions about the books they read. It's such a personal experience!
E: What's your range of favorite genres? Can you introduce us to the why's of that?
K: My favorite would have to be the classics, followed by non-modernized historical fiction. (You know, where the author writes in a respectful, authentic historical style.) A close third is fantasy that has a real, historical feel. I love history. There's something about leaving behind your day-to-day existence and "traveling" to learn more about the world and what's been important for centuries. It elevates you and teaches you far more about living life than you can learn just by limiting yourself to the present. I enjoy books where I learn information and facts. And, I really like a great escape. : )
Two quotes come to mind: "The heroes of Thermopylae have been an inspiration to humanity for centuries. What squabble around a ballot-box will ever be that?" - L. M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon
(This one I heard from you!) “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” - J. R. R. Tolkien
E: Always glad to help pass along great lines! Glad you liked it too.
Among all the basic threads that just about all stories borrow from, what're your favorite story lines?
K: I looked up a list of basic plots to help me pick out my favorites. I would have to say my favorites are a quest; a riddle or mystery; an underdog who triumphs; a young person who matures in an admirable way; someone who rises in life; and someone who sacrifices him- or herself for a person or a cause. Combine those in various ways, and I would really like that book! Oh, and I enjoy a sweet and honorable romance. Most of all, though, I enjoy the "plot thread" where a person who doesn't seem special - particularly to himself - grows into an incredible individual within the book. He still isn't aware of how he's grown, but everyone else around him is! I love having someone like that to root for!
E: How about your worst pet peeves? Let us have 'em!
K: Ooh, a chance to be really opinionated! If we're talking about storylines, I'd say stories that have a pessimistic worldview - the ones that keep spiraling downward and end worse than they began. Sometimes I want to shake the author and say, "Wake up! Life doesn't have to be like that. Those who are God's children don't have to dwell on unhappy endings!" I also dislike it when a romance is thrown into a story that doesn't need it. I think our culture dwells on romances too much - especially the forbidden ones.
If we're talking about smaller chunks within any given book, please can I bring these culprits to the bar: mean children, cruelty to animals, and the death of a child, young adult, or animal. Okay, those are things that authors sometimes have to include, because, let's face it, they're real life. I can make myself stand them if they contribute to the story.
E: Okay, how about that Thing-You-Can't-Stand-Above-Anything-Else.
K: Ohhh ... the Thing that makes me skip part of the book or close it altogether?! Too much information within a love scene or a pseudo-love scene. Ick. I don't need that.
E: Glancing quickly backward over your reading history, what stands out as the moment that melted your heart, all warm and puddle-y?
K: When, in the first book of the Boxcar Children series, the children set up house in their boxcar! I didn't always love practical things like playing house with my dolls, (I was 50% adventurous tomboy and 50% domestic doll-player) but I really enjoyed reading about people doing it for real. That vicarious enjoyment, like I was doing it myself, was definitely an early-on heart-warming moment!
E: Same thing, what's the first-to-mind scene that fired your emotions?
K: Um, the scene that made me cry so much that I think my eyes were puffy the next morning? Masouda's death in The Brethren by Henry Rider Haggard. I loved that heroic, fiery girl so much, and she was in love with the wise, gentle Godwin D'Arcy, and she sacrificed herself for him, and he didn't realize he loved her, too, until he held her lifeless body in his arms ....
E: ...Made you so mad you couldn't see straight?
K: Grrr ... it was at the end of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Archdeacon Claude Frollo had just succeeded in betraying Esmeralda to the gallows. After all she had been through, after almost escaping, after starting to finally hope again ... Frollo's fate, on the other hand, was satisfying.
E: What is your favorite trait in a character, and why do you love them?
K: I love talking favorite characters! Wait a moment while I bring to mind all my favorite characters and think of why I loved them ... hmm, above all, I probably love intelligence, humility, and un-self-consciousness. Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility), Anne Elliot (Persuasion), and Molly Gibson (Wives and Daughters) really stand out to me. There are lots of other loveable traits, but I think those three traits are necessary for me to latch on to a favorite.
E: What makes you most hate the villain?
K: I find it easier to hate a villain whom I don’t understand, when his motives aren't logical - he just hates, loves to be cruel, and/or doesn't understand the protagonist. (Enter Claude Frollo.)
E: What was your favorite "switch" that caught you completely off guard, but you loved the result!
K: Oh, fun question, but that's a hard one ... I love mysteries, so there are a lot of marvelous switches in those kinds of books, but I don't want to go into any of those in case I give something away - you know, there might just be somebody out there who was just about to read that one mystery I might mention and poof! there goes the suspense. Oh, I know! This can't be dangerous because surely everyone's familiar with this one. The Scarlet Pimpernel - (SPOILER ALERT - if you haven't read this book, don't read the rest of my answer!)
when Sir Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel, whom the bad guys were looking all over for, turned out to be the "Jew" who had supposedly been leading them to the Scarlet Pimpernel. After the bad guys were gone, he revealed himself to Marguerite his wife with, "Zounds! but I'm as weak as a rat!" That surprise still has me tingle sometimes!
E: What small things do you especially like to see included?
K: Mmm ... that sets my mind off in all sorts of cozy, comfort-food directions - I like it when there are big families in a story, and all the children's unique personalities are described; when special houses are described; when children play imaginative games; when smells and taste and food are described; and when the protagonist has times of quiet reflection. There may be others ... but those are obviously important ones because they came to mind first!
E: Thanks for joining us, Kelsey!
K: Thanks for having me! This was so much fun. It makes me want to grab something else off my shelf - say, The Three Musketeers? Middlemarch? Cranford?