Monday, 2 March 2009

PATRICIA ALTNER – Patricia’s Vampire Notes






This weeks guest blogger is a blogger i met through a feature i did on my blog and the rest as they say is history. Patricia runs the blog Patricia’s Vampire Notes and it’s always a pleasure visiting her.

Since meeting Patricia, i have learned a little more about a genre that i love and a whole lot about the best vampire books to add to my TBR. This interview was a real eye opener for me – as you never know who the person is behind the blog.

Her blog is clearly a labour of love and the time and effort she puts into it  is evident, by the followers and lurkers who loves nothing more than a guest interview and a contest on her blog.

A big part of the thrill of visiting Patricia’s Vampire Notes, is her reviews. They are clear concise and without being a basher, she tells the reader what to expect from a book – without all the sugar coating or ripping apart that we have been seeing so much of recently.

As always without giving the interview away let’s give it up for Patricia – Patricia Vampire Notes.








- 1- What motivated you to create a book review blog?


I've been a reader all my life. Growing up my mom and I made regular trips to the library. I guess it's no surprise that I became a librarian. One of the best parts of that job was helping readers find books and information. For many years I reviewed fiction for Library Journal. With the advent of the Internet and blogging it seemed natural to start writing about books in the genre that I loved and making this information accessible to others.

I've long had an interest in vampire and paranormal stories, and blogging was a perfect venue. I don't always have time to read and review every book of interest. In that case I will have a post that announces titles. Basically I simply want to get the word out to readers about what is available, and in the process, do my small part to help authors and their works get noticed. Also I did not have to stick with any editorial guidelines except my own - maybe not always a good idea ☺



-2- Tell us about the name of your blog Patricia's Vampire Notes?


I've had this thing for vampire stories since reading Stoker's Dracula and seeing Frank Langella's sexy version on Broadway. My thought was to focus on reviewing fiction about vampires and to post any information on the subject that I thought others like myself would find of interest. Now, of course, I include all paranormal fiction, but Patricia's Vampire Notes was the first name that came to mind and I've stuck with it.  Not very original, I know.



-3- What are some of your on-line habits? (blogs visited, investigative process, email info etc)


Sometimes it feels like the internet is an extension of myself. Most of my work day, if I'm not reading and taking notes, I'm online. There are several sites that I read religiously - most of these concern paranormal reviews, or are blogs by writers of the genre.

I have set up Goggle alerts on a variety of subjects all having to do with vampires or other paranormal creatures. Often Facebook or Twitter points the way to useful info. Many publishers have Twitter IDs and like to mention what's new on their lists. Sometimes I will receive an email from a publisher or author asking if I would like an Advanced Reader Copy of a book. Yes, of course I would!!

Offline I prowl the aisles of bookstores and libraries. Serendipity often works in my favour. I discovered book one of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries on the paperback rack of the library - long before the series became a hit and the basis for True Blood on HBO.

Another vital source for me is the magazine Locus. Anyone interested in SF/F should read it. Locus covers the entire field.


-4- In what genre do you consider yourself to have the most expertise and why?


Vampire fiction for certain. Every time I see a book about the undead I have to buy it, read it, or at least add it to my overflowing TBR pile. In 1998 I published Vampire Readings: An Annotated Bibliography with Scarecrow Press. While working on the book I was shocked to find how many titles were available. Of course by then Ann Rice had helped make the subject more mainstream and publishers couldn't put out enough. I kept reading and annotating and eventually put up a bibliographic site and began blogging on the topic.

Probably the most fun I ever had concerning vampires happened about 5 years ago when a publisher and author tried to keep Sony from releasing Underworld. I was asked to gather information for a law firm working on the case. I was in my element - reading and researching on a subject I loved! Heaven!


-5-. Is there any type of book that you absolutely will not review and why?


For the blog site I want to keep things positive. I recommend books - through my reviews. If I don't enjoy a book but I know that other readers might I will mention it in a list I put together. I need to point out, however, that most of the books I list aren't because I don't like them,  I just haven't had time to read them yet and may still, at some point, review them.

If I come across a book that I find offensive I will not review it nor mention it on the blog. That rarely happens. I can only think of one time. The subject was paedophilia and murder. No, thank you!

One caveat. As I mentioned earlier I write reviews for Library Journal. Then I will read and write about whatever book is sent. If I find it offensive I will say so and tell why. That's when I wear my reviewer hardhat.


-6- What are some of the courtesy's of reviewing for you? (length of review, spoiler, notification, etc)


Absolutely no spoilers! That isn't fair to the reader or the author and should never be part of a review. When writing a review I don't have a particular length in mind. I tell a bit of the story and give my thoughts. That's it. I do like to have an image of the book cover and often will give a link to the author's website.

Honestly I don't always remember to tell the author or the publicist. I suspect, though, that many use Goggle alerts or something similar to find out when a review is published.

I want to note that I am happy to review print or ebooks.


-7- Knowing that you have a following, how do you feel and how do you keep our interest? 


I am absolutely thrilled whenever I discover someone is following my blog. It's great payback for all the time and effort I put in.

The only way I know to keep people's interest is to post items that appeal to me and I hope by extension to my readers. Of course I love it when a reader comments. It's a great way of interacting with readers, and I often get ideas for new material here.


-8- While blogging gives away a piece of our identity - do you feel you have changed (become more adventurous / more aware) since blogging?


I"m basically a shy person but as a blogger I'm more outgoing, which may not be saying much ☺

Meeting authors  readers, and other bloggers in the SF/F genre has been very exciting for me. I enjoy linking with like minded people. Sad to say absolutely none of my friends or family have any interest in fantasy of any kind.


-9-  What are some of the more noticeable positives and negative of the romance genre over the past few years for you?.


I will have to limit my comments to vampire/paranormal romance. When I first began reading vampire romance there seemed to be a lot of the brooding vampire guy who wanted more than anything to rid himself of this unholy condition and become human again. Although this theme was often well done in the hands of excellent writers, the idea became a tad worn after a while. Now men and women can revel in their vampiric or other supernatural powers while searching for and rescuing their soulmate. What this genre romance also did was to allow vampires, werewolves, etc to be on the side of good. Some years ago there was a newsletter called Good Guys Have Fangs - great title.

I will make this general comment about romances. Years ago, when I started reading them, passionate kisses might take place, but mostly sex, if even mentioned, was rather tame. (There were exceptions of course.) Now sex scenes are quite common and little is left to the imagination - and that's fine with me ;)


-10- With technology now walking hand in hand with our beloved print book - do you own an e-reader - 


   A. If no - why not          

For now the only e-reader I have is my computer which isn't the best way to read e-books. One day in the near future I will buy a device. I have my eye on the Kindle, although it is on the expensive side.


B. What do you think of the ereader /ebook craze

Many excellent authors have their works available only as ebooks, and as a reader and blogger I want to be sure that these  writers are recognized. Every day the number of ebooks grows. Amazon has had a big hand in this by offering so many titles electronically.

   C. Do you think it will last

Personally I love "real" books. I enjoy walking into a library or bookstore and revelling in the amount of knowledge represented. (I'm weird that way.)

On the other hand there are so many books and so little space, especially in my house. I imagine I will always prefer a paper copy, but I have to be practical. Ebooks are here to stay.


D. Last book read that you thought - it can't get any better than this - Print.

It's very hard to come up with one title (Print) where I felt it can't get any better than this. For now I'll choose Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert. Dutton, 2007. It is beautifully written.


11- Now to get to the books. Tell me all - the ones that started you off onto the genre, some favourite through the years and looking forward to books.


Two very different books got me excited about the vampire genre - Dracula by Bram Stoker and Interview with the Vampire by Ann Rice.

While researching for Vampire Readings I found some wonderful books that I highly recommend. Here are a few in no particular order:

Fevre Dream by George R R Martin 1982 [recently reprinted in trade paperback]

The Golden by Lucius Shepard 1993

Midnight Blue: The Sonja Blue Collection by Nancy A Collins. 1995 - contains 3 novels: Sunglasses After Dark, In the Blood, Paint It Black.

The Dragon Waiting by John M Ford 1983

The Madness Season by C S Friedman 1990

Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly 1988

'Salem's Lot by Stephen KIng 1975 with several reprints

I'll stop here, but there are many, many more.

I have an enormous To-Be-Read list. There are currently so many terrific writers in the paranormal and urban fantasy genres. To try to name them all would make an impossibly long list. I don't want to leave anyone out so I won't even try. A quick look at the Vampire Notes site would give you a good idea.


-12- Any tips for new and future blogger.


Your blog should be a labour of love. It's a chance to communicate your ideas to others, and it's also a chance to share something of yourself. The latter is still a problem for me, but I think I'm getting better. Getting feedback from readers is so special. The exchange of ideas is very stimulating.

Read blogs in your genre and look at blogs like The Blog Herald, ProBlogger or Liz Strauss. You can pick up some excellent ideas there.

Most importantly - have fun!!


-13- Sneak peek at any future plans for the site or any upcoming events for you, and let us know where else we can find  you on the web.


I have spoken to a web designer about a new look for Vampire Notes. I've even toyed with the idea of a name change. Everything is speculative for the moment.

As for events - I currently have an interview and contest running with Theresa Meyers author of Salvation of the Damned. The contest will run through midnight March 4.

April 14 Paige Tyler will write a guest blog about her newest book Vampire 101.

April 21 Alex Bledsoe author of Blood Grove will be interviewed. There will be a contest as well.

I have a vampire book site which is woefully out of day , unless someone would like to become a volunteer virtual assistant ☺.  It's called Vampire Readings:

The Online Bibliography <> I started this list in 1998 just after the publication of the book. 

I also list books on LibraryThing <> This listing is much more current. Anyone is free to drop by and take a look.


-14- Anything of interest you can tell your reader (while still maintaining your privacy), budding author, animal advocate, any causes you support, etc.



I love to read of course. Although reviewing is mostly in the paranormal field, I enjoy mysteries, science fiction, and  historical fiction, especially the work of Sharon Kaye Penman and Cecelia Holland.

My two special charities are ASPCA and Doctors Without Borders. I signed up with both to automatically give a certain amount every month. If I don't do it this way I'll forget.

Family life consists of a wonderful husband (32 years of wedded bliss), an 18 year old son, one dog, and one cat. We're a small but happy crew.

In the evening if one of my favourite TV shows are on - Supernatural, CSI, Medium, Battlestar Galactica, etc. I'll watch and knit or crochet some simple project. I cannot simply sit without keeping my hands busy.




Many thanks, E. H., for this great opportunity to connect with your readers. If at any time you would like to write for PVN the welcome mat is always out!







4 Speak To Me:

Donna on 2 March 2009 at 19:00 said...

Patricia, Great interview! If you redesign your blog site, don't change the blog name. I think it fits you, IMHO, plus the blog name is what got me to go your blog the first time I visited it.

Patricia Altner on 2 March 2009 at 19:44 said...

Thanks, Fantasy Dreamer

And thanks for weighing in on the possible name change. The web designer had other ideas, but I really want to keep the name!


Marta on 3 March 2009 at 01:43 said...

Hi, Patricia, I'm happy to read this interview and find out more about one of my favorite bloggers/reviewers. You were ahead of the curve on a site dedicated to paranormal fiction reviews. Now there are lots of sites around, but I'm always happy to see your newsletter in my in-box.

Patricia Altner on 3 March 2009 at 15:43 said...

Your nice words mean a lot, Martha.

You've made my day!