Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview With Alice Jane of Crazy Red Pen!

Alice Jane Chen of the book blog Crazy Red Pen has been one of my best friends for such a long time.  I discovered the world of blogging through her and was lucky enough to be able to interview her about blogging, books and more!  

1.  Wow, you've been blogging for about three years already!  What has kept you motivated to blog for all this time?

It's more like I've been seriously blogging for around a year. My other two years were spent writing about random stuff. And I mean random... I feel so embarassed about my posts from two or even three years ago... But back to motivation behind blogging. It's really all about time management and doing something that you like. If you like what you're doing enough, you'll set apart enough time to do it. It really doesn't have to be a book blog; it can be anything. 

2.  How would you say your blog has changed over the years?

I think it's gotten a lot more focused. I read YA a lot more way back but my older posts were just short summaries with something along the lines of "written well, I loved it, etc." I was also into making what I call "artsy-fartsy" book pictures to accompany the posts but I don't really have time to do that anymore. Maybe I should bring it back...? It's harder now since some books I read are e-books so it's a lot harder to photograph...

In addition, I think I've found my "voice" so to speak. If you can find your voice (who you are, how you blog, etc.) then blogging becomes so much easier and a lot less burdensome. 

3.  Since you tortured me with this question, I’ll return the favor.  What is your favorite book of all time?  YA?  Classic?

Ugh. Why did I ask you this...? (Laughs) My favorite book of all time is probably Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. That woman is so witty and I love her personality (her personal letters are hilarious). But by saying that, I feel like I'm going to be branded with the label of  "chick-lit" reader. What is that? As Libba Bray once said in an interview, are men branded with the label of a  "dude-lit" reader? 
Anyways, I find the satire in Pride and Prejudice funny. Comedy is always fun to read. 

YA? My tastes vary. At the moment though, I really like Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone, a debut 2012 book (came out in July). The woman who wrote it writes the posts for Spark Life. She seems to be quite funny/comedic. I'd like to chat with her one day....
All time favorite book? I'm going to skip that okay? (laughs)

4.  Recommend one book that you've recently read.  

See question three. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone. I also liked The Buddha in the Attic, a short adult novel about the Japanese American experience in the 1940's. 

5.  What was your favorite book as a child?

Winnie the Pooh! Edward Bear (Mr. Sanders/Winnie the Pooh) is so fat and cute! Hahaha... My parents bought me a 3 ft tall stuffed Pooh Bear when I was younger because I was so obsessed with it. (I still kind of am...)

But I suppose I actually didn't really read the actual stories that were written by A.A Milne, so that doesn't really count. 

But around second grade, I really liked Magic Tree House and A-Z Mysteries. Mysteries are so fun to read. Especially The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. An unrelated sentence to the question though, the BBC series of Sherlock Holmes is really fun to watch. They've modernized the stories but they're fresh and doesn't feel forced. 

6.  If you could be any book character, who would you be and why?

Ugh... This question... I don't really imagine myself as a character when I'm reading, so this is such a hard question. Even if the book is in first person, I still read like I'm a bystander watching. 

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, I guess? She has magical powers but she doesn't have to fight the Dark Lord like Harry does... Plus she's smart! Hahaha...

7.  What's the best part about blogging?  Worst? 

The best? I get to sit and write. Then press publish. No, uhm, really. I get to read wonderfully written books and share my love of books with others who are similar minded. I also get to meet other people, which is fun! :)

The worst? The time management. The behind the scenes work. You read a book for around three hours and then you have to put your love of that book into physical words so other people can understand. But I think that's pretty okay. I've found my voice so it's not that bad. Definitely the juggling of blogging and actual life though. I'm still a student so it's pretty rough. But you try and you get through it. (I'm not being very helpful, am I...?)

8.  I see you also have an interest in fashion.  Why do you like fashion?  Who is your favorite fashion designer and why?  

Fashion! I actually just had a conversation with a RISD student who interned for an up-and-coming Belgian fashion designer based in NY. It was probably the most interesting conversation I've had with anyone. I used to think fashion was really fickle and shallow and I still do sometimes, but you learn to appreciate the crafting, the details in the garments. Some garments are just so simple but so beautiful. 

I'm a huge follower of art in general, so fashion just branched off of that. I'm a purveyor of random fashion trivia (and basically random trivia in general)... I read things and retain them for quite some time. 

I really, really admire Alexander McQueen's work. They're quite interesting and some pieces are definitely not something you'd wear out on the street but they're just so, so detailed. He really carries a theme throughout a season and does it so cleanly. It feels so natural to him. 

9.  You also frequently review manga or discuss them on your blog.  Why do you like them?  How do you think they are different from/similar to the traditional novel?   

I got into manga in middle school when a friend introduced them to me. It was visually appealing and I've read so much since then. I've actually always read comics, even when I was four or five (San Mao, a Chinese comic about a poor beggar boy). It feels natural I suppose to me?
They're similar in the way that they tell a story. However, the flow of comics and the pacing of it is a lot different than a traditional novel. Pacing, I feel like, is a lot harder with comics (I say that because I find it easier to express myself in words than pictures). You have to have a lot of variation in shots and angles to make it seem interesting.
Yen Press (division of Hachette Book Publishing; sister companies to Little Brown and Company) actually makes manga/OEL (Original English Language) versions of popular YA novels such as the books by James Patterson. Some of them are quite good, actually. 

10.  And finally, what advice would you give to new bloggers like me?  Thank you for this interview; I really do appreciate your time! 

Find your passion. That's the most important thing. Don't blog because you think it's cool to blog. Blog because you like to blog. Blog about the things that you like, not the things that you think are "in" right now. You may become popular in the short run, but what's your voice? Don't be chasing after trends, set your own trends. 

Also, make friends. The book blogging community is friendly and closely knit. We're all nice! Ask other bloggers questions. Don't be intimidated by them. You can ask me questions! (Shameless self-promotion). Ask me things on Twitter (@alicejane011) or via email. 

Thank you for interviewing me!

Haha, that was the first interview I've ever done and I'd say it was a success!  Once again, thank you Alice for doing this :)  Don't forget to check out her blog at Crazy Red Pen or you can find her on Twitter (@alicejane011).


  1. OMG. I'm so embarrassed... =.= Hahahaha...

  2. Great interview! I'm also a lover of Pride and Prejudice!
    And I totally agree with the time management thing--sometimes I'll tell myself that I'll just write up a quick blog post and then do other stuff but somehow I end up spending almost two hours just doing blog stuff!


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