Here’s blogger #4, Laura @ TheBookCorps. Is another one of my favorite people. I had so much fun doing this interview and I’ve learned so many fun things about Laura, I can’t wait for you all to get to know her 🙂
Tell me a little bit about yourself!
Hello! My name is Laura and I’ve been blogging at thebookcorps for over two years now! I’m currently completing a Master of Publishing and Communications which I really hope will land me a job in Young Adult book publishing one day. I’m also a writer, and I’m working on a four book YA series about queer witches, set in a matriarchal world!
When I’m not reading or writing, I’m usually daydreaming about my own characters or listening to podcasts. I collect mugs, and Pride and Prejudice books – I currently have 19 copies! I usually find copies in second hand book stores and I like to pick up one when I travel, as well. I have two budgies: Michelangelo and Leonardo. About two years after we got the birds, we found out that Leonardo is actually a female budgie, but I refused to rename her. And I once read The Da Vinci Code in four Health classes in high school, which I like to think is my greatest achievement to date.
Tell me more about your blog (why you started, how you came up with the name, etc).
I first started blogging back in June 2016. I originally created my blog as a way to showcase my passion for books to potential employers as I’m studying publishing, but I seriously underestimated my love of reviewing. My blog, which was originally supposed to be a hobby, very quickly took over all my other passions! Also, it helped that I had found a community of lovely bookworms through my blog – people I consider my close friends (even though we’ve never met!) I usually post and rave about YA books – as it’s my dream to edit YA books one day – but occasionally you’ll find me talking about Romance novels, too, particularly LGBTQ+.
As for my blogging name … I actually have no idea how I came up with it. I remember I created my blog a good four months before I actually published a post, and by the time I went back to WordPress and found a half-made blog already waiting for me, the name was already there. Although ‘corps’ – while referring to the military – also means a group of people engaged in an activity: so ‘book’ and ‘activity’ = thebookcorps? Maybe? Probably not my original line of thinking. I will mention that it is ‘thebookcorps’ not ‘The Book Corps’. Don’t ask me why there’s no spaces, there just isn’t. I don’t know what kind of aesthetic/look I was going for with my blog, but I like to think the eccentricity of it is all me.
I don’t particularly listen to podcasts although I would be interested in trying. What podcasts do you listen to? Do you have a favorite?
Omg, yes, I have many favourites!! At the moment, I’m obsessed with Wolf 359 – it’s about a communications officer named Doug Eiffel who works on a space station out in deep space, where he records his daily interactions with his strict commander, the quirky doctor, and the ship’s AI system, who is also his best friend. The podcast delves into a pretty big conspiracy theory, that is just awesome! I also love The Bright Sessions, where a psychologist called Dr Bright records the sessions with her patients, who all have special powers. This podcast is actually becoming a YA book series, starting next year, I believe!
Also – I’m working on a massive blog post with a whole bunch of recommendations for podcasts, for multiple genres. So keep an eye out on my blog!
(Laura did make a list of recommendations and you can check it out here!)
You mentioned earlier that you have a particular interest in LGBTQ+ romance. Do you feel that the LGBTQ+ community is (at least starting to) get the representation that they deserve? Are there any books that you would recommend for other book lovers looking for that representation?
Yes, I love LGBTQ+ fiction! I think we’re starting to get there, but we still have a long way to go. M/M books are certainly on the rise, but f/f books and books with protagonists from the longer end of the spectrum definitely don’t have enough representation. When it comes to m/m books, a majority of those are written by allocishet white women, so we definitely need a push for more #ownvoices m/m books! But I also think a majority of our efforts should go towards creating and making books with main characters who are queer people of colour, trans, non-binary and genderqueer, pansexual, bisexual, intersex, asexual and aromantic, and get those books into the mainstream.
At the moment, so much of LGBTQ+ fiction is forced into a niche little corner of publishing – and that’s really not good enough. A lot of publishing companies tend to think that if they have one queer book in their list (usually an m/m book written by an allocishet white woman), then they’re publishing diverse books, but thats not the case (this of course happens with books that feature protagonists of colour too). You can’t just have one queer book published and think that’s enough representation!
It’s also important that we uplift #ownvoices authors and ensure that they’re given as much of a chance to publish as allocishet white authors are!! If you want to learn more about the importance of queer fiction, one of my very close friends wrote a post about this issue for a professional blog. Here’s the link: https://grattanstreetpress.com/2018/05/16/the-importance-of-publishing-queer-characters/
Here are a few of my favourite LGBTQ+ novels:
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (f/f romance – bisexual Cuban MC; Black MC; lesbian rep; gay rep) – adult
- Captive Prince series by C.S Pacat (m/m romance – bisexual rep; gay rep; unidentified protagonist of colour) (Check TW for this series!) – adult
- Peter Darling by Austin Chant (m/m romance – trans MC; gay MC) – adult #ownvoices for trans rep
- In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (m/m and m/f romance – bisexual MC) – YA
- Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (f/f romance – bisexual and lesbian MCs) – YA #ownvoices for queer rep
- Abroad duology by Liz Jacobs (m/m and f/f – Russian-American Jewish MC; Black-British MC; bisexual rep; gay rep; side trans, Black, Indian, and lesbian characters too) – New Adult #ownvoices for Russian Jewish and queer rep
Once you get through those books, I’ve got even more recommendations!!
Awesome! Thank you for all of the info and recommendations! I think that will be very appreciated and some of those are on my TBR!!
I love Pride & Prejudice and it’s my favorite classic. How did you get started collecting copies of it?
Pride and Prejudice being my favourite book has a lot to do with my dad. My dad loves the book, but he loves the BBC mini series even more. He used to watch it all the time when I was younger (still does! He watched it again the other day) and I used to sit with him and watch the show and pretty much fell in love with the characters and the story. My dad used to laugh out loud when Mr and Mrs Bennet argued and it wasn’t until I was older that I understood the sarcasm and could laugh too. Then in high school I read the book for the first time and fell even further in love with the story. I’ve reread that book more times than I can count!
As I started traveling years later, I would pick up a copy of P&P in a second-hand bookstore to remind myself of the city I had travelled to. And that’s how I started collecting them! So far I have copies from Rome, London, Hobart, Sydney and Clunes (a book town in country Victoria), and a whole bunch from second-hand bookstores from Melbourne.
You also mentioned that you collect mugs. How did that start and what kind of mugs are they?
Yes! That’s between me and my sister! It started off as a joke – finding cute or funny mugs – and has since turned into something serious. We now, for reasons we’re not completely sure, have a massive collection of weird, random mugs (half of which we don’t even drink from!) My favourite is one I bought that says ‘Alexander Hamilton is bi’ and my sister’s favourite is the one we bought from Disneyland Paris that is in the shape of Mickey Mouse and has an ‘R’ on it. This mug collecting business is serious stuff – even our cousin has gotten in on the joke: for Christmas he made us a mug with his creepy smiling face on it .
Omg that is hilarious!
You mentioned that you’re working on a YA series. Is YA the only genre that you write?
Yes I am! Well, trying lol! Actually, for many years I worked on an m/m historical romance series: it’s three books and each book follows a different pairing.
The first is between a Prince and a deserter from the army who fall for one another after the murder of the Queen; the second starts off where the first took place, but set in an Egypt-type country where an exiled Prince returns home to usurp his brother’s throne (sort of working on behalf of the Prince from the first book), and an ex-lover of his helps him; and the third is set 200 years before the events of book 1 and 2, and is about a Prince who is forced to marry his lover’s sister after a distant relation usurp’s his father’s throne and murders the royal family.
The first and third books are loosely inspired by medieval British history and the second is based on Ancient Egyptian culture – my two favourite cultures!
I’ll eventually get around to finishing these books. The first book is half-written, the second still has a couple of plot holes, and the third has all the plot I just have to sit and write it.
That also sounds amazing!
Where does the inspiration for your stories come from? You mentioned the cultures, is there anything else? What made you choose to write about witches in your other series?
Honestly, it’s stuff I’ve always been interested in. I think the best way to come up with an idea for a book is to pick something that you love and work around that. It’s much easier that way. As a kid, I adored Egyptian culture. I had hieroglyphics book and used to write my school work in 5th grade in hieroglyphics, until my teacher told me off. (I have since forgotten hieroglyphs completely.) As I got older, I started looking into my own culture and history – my family is Italian and we’re descended from the Marsi people from Abruzzo, a region of Italy. So I soon fell in love with Ancient Rome and I’ve taken my favourite parts of Roman culture and Egyptian culture and integrated them into my books! My love for British history kind of came out of nowhere. I think I just really like the kings and queens – in fact, I can name all the kings and queens in order! And then I guess my stories kind of came to life through that. That’s obviously not how every writer works, but it’s how I started off.
Now the witches is a really weird story. I remember sitting in bed on my laptop one night and the idea for the world and a very basic plot for the witch story just came to me. I wasn’t doing anything interesting – wasn’t researching witches or anything like that! My brain kind of wandered and I started thinking about a romance between two girls and then it exploded! I started writing out what I was thinking and that’s that. A week later, I went to a friend’s birthday dinner and I was talking to a girl I had met and I discussed the plot of my books with her and she was like, ‘How long have you been working on this?’ and I said, “A week.” And she paused and was like, “You’ve come up with all this in a week?” And I said, “Yes.” I’m aware of how strange this story is, but it’s true. I genuinely have no idea how I came up with my witches series – the others come from my interests, but this one, my brain kind of took control lol.
Writing is weird stuff.
Do you ever think you’d pick up hieroglyphs again?
Thats amazing that you came up with a story on the fly like that. That is seriously impressive
I would love to, to be honest! I was about to take a class at uni that taught hieroglyphs but it didn’t fit into my schedule 😦 I’m hoping there’s an online class available somewhere, that can help me learn!
That’d be so cool! I hope you can find a class. I would have loved to have access to something like that when I was younger.
What is your favorite thing about being a part of the blogging/bookish community?
Definitely the friends I’ve made along the way! When I first started my blog, I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t really think anyone would read or comment on my posts, but before I knew it, I had formed a group of really close blogging friends by following each other on Twitter and Goodreads – we talk almost every day about books, the crappy world around us, and some personal issues. I never thought I’d find such a group of awesome friends, so that’s definitely been my favourite part of being part of the book community. We all support each other’s posts and blogs!
I agree. I met my best friend through blogging!
We’ve reached the end of our interview! Thank you again for doing this, I really appreciate it.