Today is The Octogons 1st birthday. I posted my first post, a review of Beloved by Toni Morrison, one year ago. What a lot has happened in the last year.
To mark the occasion and to find out, from the horses mouth, so to speak, exactly what the last year has meant to the author of The Octogon, I have decided to conduct an interview to get the nitty gritty on record.
Here is how the interview went...
What made you start this blog?
It was a friends idea after we went to Hay on Wye last year. I was talking about how I didn't have time to go to a book group any more, and how I spoke to lots of people by e-mail about books. From this the blog idea was born, to collect those friends thoughts together, and if anyone else read the blog it was a bonus.
So your main readership was thought to be your friends?
Yes, I thought that it would mainly just be my friends who would be interested.
Is that the case?
No, my friends call in occasionally, but are reluctant to comment. Most of my readers are other bloggers, or people who run into my blog while searching for information. Many many more people read my blog than I ever thought would and I have made some excellent friendships along the way.
Has your blog evolved in any way?
Mainly through becoming part of a very large and diverse community. Through reading other peoples blogs I have discovered many networking sites and community events that I never would have imagined beforehand.
What is your blogs philosophy?
I wanted a place that people could visit that invoked the feeling we get when we envisage ourselves taking a few luxurious moments to read. It may be on holiday, in a deckchair, or a shady seat in the garden, or an armchair in a quiet corner. I wanted my blog to be a haven, to visit during a busy day that replicated this feeling. I also wanted it to be used as a point of reference, not just for the reviews, but for the useful links on it. I don't know if it achieves this, but that is my aim.
What have you learnt?
Naturally I have developed my blogging skills, and also some technical skills. I have learnt a lot about my fellow bloggers. One of the few things I have observed is the differences between the British blogs and those from across the Atlantic in America and Canada. The Brits tend to have intimate sites where they write for a readership, our neighbours across the pond are much more into community, sharing events. There is much to be gained from both types and diversity is a great advantage.
What have you enjoyed about being a book blogger?
All of it! The community, the new friends, the wealth of information, the recommendations, the sharing of appreciation of books. I also like the fact that it has helped me organise my reading life, given it structure. I get to indulge my passion for reading and my blog brings it all together.
Finally, why The Octogon?
Someone asked me once, if I had a reading group, what would I call it. I figured that about 8 people was an optimum amount to get a group started, and so I'd call it the Octogon. The book group hasn't happened yet, so the blog got the name instead.
Thanks to all of the support I have had, from people I know, and from people who have called in to the blog and left very generous comments. It really has been great fun and has opened up a whole new world.
Review of The Shipping News by Annie Proulx is coming soon...