7 Questions with Darran Stobbart

We asked Darran Stobbart seven questions about being a blogger and his favourite books! Darran is a children's bookseller who runs the very successful ShinraAlpha!

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1) What was your inspiration for writing your blog?
"Well, I'd been a bookseller for a little bit and I thought "hang on, I actually quite like spouting all this passion about books. I wonder if I put it on the internet if anyone will care at all?" I've always enjoyed writing, and I seem to over-analyse things ANYWAY, so it was really just an extension of how I read anyway. Also, I have a lot of feelings and writing them down makes them a damn sight easier."

2) What were the main challenges that you faced when starting your blog and what are the challenges that you continue to face?
"I CAN NEVER MAKE IT LOOK SWISH. That bugged me so much, and it does now. I'm so rubbish at pimping up my blog, I'm always worried it looks bland and DULL. My other big concern is worrying that people even care about what I have to say. I've got virtually no self esteem to speak of, so I'm always anxious that people will like my stupid dumb words out of my stupid dumb brain. When I post a new review, I anxiously check the stats over and over and over, like each hit is a validation on my existence. Or something like that."

3) As a child or teenager did you want to be a book blogger and if so, is it as you expected?
"Man, book blogging didn't exist when I was a kid! I used to write book reviews at primary school, and I even read one out for a Terry Deary Horrible Histories book - I was pretty proud. But no, I'm old enough that the internet was just starting to be a thing when I was ten or eleven, so while it was a pretty big part of my teendom, I didn't think for a moment that I could write a blog about my feelings on books and anyone would check. Back then it was all forums (I joined a LOT of forums) and dinosaurs and like, I dunno... Other stereotypical old stuff. The internet was in black and white back then. As for is it what I expected? It's much more welcoming and supportive and stressful and soul-crushing and fun that I thought."

4) Who are the bloggers and writers that have influenced you?
"Bloggers

- Lucy at Queen of Contemporary, who is an inspiration. If I'd been half as productive at her age as she is, I'd been a super millionaire author by now  

- Laura at SisterSpooky, who was the first blogger to really welcome me to social media and start sharing my reviews. She's a total peach, always lovely and always reviews a great range of adult, YA and MG books.

- Jim at YA Yeah Yeah, whose passion and social drive has really made me feel welcome in the community, especially since I live so far away from London, the hub of all things Bookish (I live in the North of England. It's cold, and there are Whitewalkers)

Writers

- Patrick Ness, who is probably my favourite author (Hi Patrick!), because he's so open and genuine and lovely, and his books make me cry until all the water has left my body and I'm a shrivelled mess of a human being.

- Non Pratt, because she loves music as much as I do, she's always so kind and generous and downright awesome, and she's from the North, so she understands corned beef pasties. Her books are also full of the BEST dialogue.

- James Dawson, because his work in diversity is tireless and vital, working constantly to try and make sure that all YA is as representative of the wonderful diversity in the world as it SHOULD be. Also, he made me realise I could write horror and people might like to read it.

- Phil Earle, who is literally the nicest man in the universe.

- Lisa Williamson for the line "You can edit bad writing, you can't edit a blank page.""

5) What are your favourite blogs / who are your favourite book bloggers?
"The three above! Queen of Contemporary, Sisterspooky and YAYeahYeah are all ace, HannahLoveBook who's a YouTuber who comes to my YA book club, George Lester, SnugglingoftheSofa, PewterWolf, ThePrettyBooks; there's so many great people out there! Search #UKYAChat on Twitter and you'll find some solid diamond legends."

6) What's in your reading pile currently?
"So much stuff. SO MUCH. I would be genuinely ecstatic if I got under three digits on my TBR. I've got Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher, she's amazing, It's About Love by Steve Camden, his debut Tape was total aces. Demon Roads, the latest Derek Landy... I'm hoping for proofs of Asking For It by Louise O'Neill and All of the Above by James Dawson as well. Just finished Unbecoming by Jenny Downham, which deserves a shout for being SUPER AWESOME GREAT."

7) What is your all time favourite book?
"Wow, tough shout. I always default to His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (a trilogy I know, shut up), but then I think I probably should have a Harry Potter in my list, but I don't think I could ever choose. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is probably one of, too. In recent years, Trouble by Non Pratt, The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, Department 19 by Will Hill and Every Day by David Levithan have all featured pretty highly as well. I don't, I like books, okay?!"