1) What was your inspiration for writing your blog?
I've always wanted to write. I just wasn't sure what, or where, or...how! I just knew I had to.
I was between lessons at sixth form college one day, and I was so full of feelings and opinions that I desperately wanted to release somehow, had been for a long time actually...so I sat down at a computer in the Learning Centre and created a blogspot page. I then unloaded all of my teenage angst and observations onto that page, and whoa it felt good. It was so magically therapeutic. I then started doing that unloading quite regularly, and thus the blog was born!
2) What were the main challenges that you faced when starting your blog and what are the challenges that you continue to face?
It didn't occur to me for the longest time that what I was writing – or rather, venting relentlessly – on my little blog was, well, visible to the ENTIRE WORLD. For some reason I never considered the fact that my ramblings were actually out there in hyperspace for all to see. That was until I was eighteen and at uni, when the nasty girl in my lectures called me out on bitching about her in my most recent post...oops.
As soon as I realised this, I adjusted my behaviour accordingly. I started writing less personal word vomit-type things, and more coherent pieces. I would upload bits and bobs from my Creative Writing assignments, shout-out to my talented friends on my course, update my friends and family back home on my new independent student life (the good, the bad and the very drunk and ugly...). I also was slightly afraid to review anything once upon a time, especially after seeing my student peers' reviews of books and films – they seemed so much more professional and logical than mine! I've since found my own groove when it comes to reviewing, though, and it seems to be working so far...!
3) As a child or young teenager did you want to be a book blogger and if so, is it as you expected?
I always loved reading, from a young age. Family friends would come over for coffee dates with my parents, or we'd meet for a day out somewhere, and the friends would always joke 'Hey Grace, where's the book then?!' I would then produce my latest read from my backpack (my favourites were the Adrian Mole series, the Angels Unlimited series, and Harry Potter, obviously).
When I wasn't reading, I was writing. Scribbling in my notebooks and drawing comic strips. I'd write about my favourite reads in my diaries, and then when I started up the blog in 2010 I'd occasionally post a paragraph or two about a book I was enjoying...I didn't come across book blogging until I was at uni. I fell madly in love with it, of course – and since properly establishing myself in the past year as a book blogger my life has changed for the better! I've made some amazing friends, been to incredible book events, and I especially love that tell-tale thud on the doormat once or twice a week when I'm sent a proof copy or two...being a book blogger is nothing like I expected – it's better!
4) Who are the bloggers and writers that have influenced you?
I've always loved Caitlin Moran. Since I was seventeen and sneaked peeks at her articles in The Times magazine on the shelf at the local service station – then when I first read How To Be A Woman and discovered I was, and always had been, a feminist. Caitlin continues to inspire me endlessly, I dream of being her drinking buddy someday.
I also adore Dawn O'Porter, because well, she's just epically cool and her talent is next level.
Fiction-wise, my biggest inspirations are Louise O'Neill, Audrey Niffenegger, Angela Carter...I enjoy a lot of David Levithan's books too...and I've recently developed a mad major crush on Keris Stainton. I'm doing her online young adult writing course, and squirrelling away every tip she gives...!
I really enjoy Matt Haig's writing, especially in Reasons to Stay Alive. That book gave me the courage to be more honest, and more brave.
I could never condense the list of bloggers whom I admire into one little paragraph...I'm discovering new sites and new people every day! But just a couple would be Emma Gannon (Girl Lost In City), Laura Bates (Everyday Sexism), and my friend Louise Jones (@louisejonesetc / hiyalouise.blogspot.co.uk) is also a big inspiration to me.
I can only dream of someday reaching as many people as these bloggers do. And being even just a tenth of how awesome they are.
5) What are your favourite blogs / who are your favourite book bloggers?
It's so hard just picking a few! These guys will always stand out for me...
Kathy B (iamkb.co.uk),
Jess (jessheartsbooks.blogspot.co.uk / safespaceuk.blogspot.co.uk),
Stevie Finegan (youtube.com/SableCaught – yes I know that's cheating really as she is a BookTuber)...
and Jo Stapley (onceuponabookcase.co.uk).
6) What's in your reading pile currently?
As I type this I am en route to London for the launch of Mel Salisbury's second novel The Sleeping Prince at Waterstones Piccadilly (my happy place). So I'll hopefully be reading that beauty soon!
I also have proofs of Kill The Boyband by Goldy Moldavsky and The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood in my TBR, thanks to my lovely friend Amy (acharlottew.com).
I'm always looking for time to finally finish Bad Feminist, by Roxanne Gay. It's the most immense and important read, so I'm taking it in steps. Read one mind-blowing chapter, take a breather for a few days, then read another...and so on. I'm nearly finished!
Ooh, and I was recently sent Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole and that excites me like you would not believe. It's going to the top of my TBR pile!
7) What is your all time favourite book?
Well, this is the most unfair question maybe ever. I can't pick just one!
My fail-safe answer when asked this is usually One Day, by David Nicholls. I read that while on holiday with friends in Majorca a few years back (and finished it one night at 3am, sobbing while downing cocktails and playing Scrabble) and it was what reminded me of my love of fiction. And how badly I want to be an author. Maybe someday...
I also will always adore The Twits, by Roald Dahl.