I'm happy to be presenting another blogger interview. I've had so much fun doing these and getting to know my fellow bloggers better.
I'm excited today to have
LKBR: Hi Mark. Thank you so much for being here today.
MC: Thanks so much for having me. It’s nice to be here.
LKBR: I know of course you are a big reader now. Did you read a lot when you were a child? If so, what did you like to read?
MC: I’ve always been a big reader. I can remember in elementary school reading and rereading Little Pilgrim’s Progress back to back. As soon as I finished it, I started over again. Ironically enough considering my love of mysteries now, in 3rd grade, I stopped reading my first Hardy Boys book when I got hooked on the Chronicles of Narnia. It wasn’t long before I was hooked on mysteries, however - The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, Trixie Belden – as well as some non-mystery books. Just like now, I do like to mix a few non-mysteries into my mysteries just for a change of pace.
LKBR: Bookstores, on-line shopping, or libraries . . . which is your favorite way to acquire your books?
MC: I’d say it is a mix of on-line and traditional bookstores. Sadly, the only bookstore in my town now is Barnes and Noble, so I like to support them when I get a chance. We used to have other chains in town that have now closed, and I miss them. But I can’t pass up the discounts for the hardcovers offered on-line, so I will order them on-line. I get a couple of bestselling authors from my library and I’ve been listening to more audio books this year, and I’ve been getting those from my library as well.
LKRB: What is one of your favorite reading spots other than your home?
MC: I’ve got a weird reading spot – the front seat of my car. I go there to read on my lunch hour, and that’s when I get a lot of my reading done. Fortunately, there is a garage I can park in at work when it gets hot in the summer, and it never gets super cold here in Southern California during the winter.
LKBR: I know you’re a cozy mystery reader like I am. What other genres do you enjoy?
MC: I’ve started listening to a few non-cozy mysteries in the last couple of years. Yes, still mysteries, however. The other genre I read the most is Middle Grade. I never grew up completely, I guess, and I read a mix of mystery and fantasy in that genre. There are some very creative books coming out for Middle Graders that I just love. Plus I reread some of my favorites from growing up as well.
LKBR: How long have you been a blogger/reviewer?
MC: That’s a complicated question. I started reviewing at Amazon in 2001. I joined another site along the way. However, I started my blog in 2013 when I wanted a place to collect my reviews that was more under my control. I also posted all my review from late 2005 onward there, so it’s a massive collection of what I’ve reviewed for almost a decade now.
LKBR: What inspired you to start your own blog?
MC: The main reason I started blogging was the site I was focusing on appeared to be doing a death spiral, and I wanted to get my reviews saved and work on building a new audience as well. Honestly, I am enjoying having my blog so much that I wish I had started it sooner. And it’s very nice to have that outlet still. Reviewing is such a part of who I am at this point that I am composing reviews all the time in my head now.
LKBR: What is your favorite part, other than the reading, of being a blogger/reviewer?
MC: I’ve always enjoyed sharing what I’ve been enjoying with others. This is a way to connect with people who are actually interested in hearing about it instead of boring family and friends with incessant talk about my latest book. The biggest thrill, however, is when someone tells me they read a book because of my recommendation and loved it.
LKBR: Do you have a set time that your work on your blog? Or is it a matter of you do it when you can?
MC: My blog seems to take up lots of my time, so it’s whenever I can around the rest of my life.
LKBR: When you’re not reading, and working on reviews and your site, what do you like to do?
MC: Thanks to author Sue Ann Jaffarian, I got into mud runs in 2010. I try to do six or seven of those a year, and that means running to keep in shape. I also play a sport called ultimate Frisbee. I also love TV and movies, so if I’m not reading, I’m often watching something.
LKBR: What are three things you would like people to know about you?
MC: 1. While I love mysteries, both books and TV, my favorite TV show of all time is Babylon 5, a wonderful science fiction show.
2. Thanks to the sites where I started reviewing, I review more than books on my blog. I also cover movies, TV shows, music, Christmas ornaments (mostly Hallmark), and whatever else catches my fancy. It helps keep me engaged in reviewing after 14 years since each thing takes a different focus.
3. I run a page on Facebook called First Line Monday. The idea is to share the first line of whatever you are reading each Monday. (Yes, just like the name says.) It’s open to all readers, so please come join the fun. https://www.facebook.com/FirstLineMonday
LKBR: Mark, thank you for great answers!
MC: Thanks for the great questions and thanks once again for having me.
Ah, yes, the Carstairs question.
On a last minute whim, I asked Mark about the Carstairs in his name. This is what he had to say...
Back when I was first getting on line, I was trying to come up with a user name that I could use everywhere on the internet. Mark Baker and the various initial/name combinations just vanish too quickly, so I needed something more unique.
At the time, I was reading the Mrs. Pollifax series, a cozy spy series. Mrs. Pollifax's boss at the CIA is named Carstairs. I decided that was a great user name, and I've been using it for over 15 years now. It really does feel like part of me even though it isn't my name.
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