Thursday 24 January 2013

Be My Guest: Jo From Wear The Old Coat

Welcome to my new feature! It even has its own theme tune.

Yep. Totally original. Anyhoo, I wanted to create a feature that focused on how awesome the book blogging community is (as opposed to all the drama of last year), and what better way than to have a new blogger be my guest each week. I'm very happy to have Jo from Wear the Old Coat as my first ever guest. I've been following her blog for so long I can't say exactly how I discovered it, but I love it for Jo's wicked sense of humour and wonderfully written reviews. Some books she's single-handedly added to my wishlist include This is Shyness by Leanne Hall, Adorkable by Sara Manning, A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley and Brown Skin Blue by Belinda Jeffrey. Plus her reviews of books like Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver, and The Lumatere Chronicles and On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta made me want to read the books even more than I already did. She also has awesome features like Under the Covers, about the stories behind the books on her shelf (as well as some guests' books - including mine!), and On Writing, which features amazing interviews with authors, filled with insightful advice about writing. But enough of me waffling. It's time to grill Jo...  

First up, the important stuff - what are we eating and drinking at this party?
OK, I should probably say something really delicious and fancy like… um… something delicious and fancy. But, and this may surprise you so brace yourselves, I don’t actually get invited to that many fancy parties. I actually have a really sweet tooth, so I’m going to bring some Jazzies (I understand you Aussies call them Freckles?) because they’re my favourite sweets in the entire world. And to drink? Pink bubbly because when I’m a Rich and Famous author, that’s all I’ll drink. You can imagine what my books will be like…

What part of the world do you hail from, and what's something not many people would know about that place? 
I’m from a little town about 40 minutes away from Manchester. The song "It’s a Long Way to Tipperary" was written in my hometown by Jack Judge.  

Tell us one random fact about yourself. 
My great granddad had tickets for the Titanic but swapped them at the last minute for tickets on another ship with his friends.
I’m not entirely sure that’s 100% true but it’s one of my favourite things to ask my grandma about, BUT if you want one that definitely is true: I was taught by someone who taught Danny Boyle.

What kind of books do you read, and what is your ultimate favourite?  
I’ve always said if I could get away with reading only contemporary YA books, I would. But I fear I would quickly run out because there is a distinct lack of contemporary books getting published at the moment. I find that they often get overlooked for the more in-your-face books that are perhaps easier to sell, but when you find a good one, one that grabs you by the cardigan and refuses to let go, it’s so worth the wait.
My ultimate favourite? God, that’s such a difficult question. There are different books/series that mean a lot to me because I read them at different stages in my reading life. Harry Potter were the first books that made me excited to read. The Hunger Games were the books that showed me how important it is to read what you want and not what you think you should. But my favourite books, absolute favourite, are His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Those books changed the way I thought stories could and should be told.   

What do you do when you're not reading/blogging?
When I’m not reading or blogging I’m actually writing or working. The former a lot more glamorous than the latter… except not really because I write the best when I’m wearing PJs. Seriously though, I’m always writing and coming up with stories. I started reading YA because I wanted to read books that were aimed at the group of readers that I want to write for… and I guess I started blogging because I wanted to have a place where I could talk about the books I loved and loathed with other like-minded people.
I also love music and there’s nothing better than discovering a new band and song to play on repeat. Oh and I adore watching films, something that has kind of taken a bit of a backseat with all my reading/writing malarkey but I will always be a film geek. In fact, I probably have more DVDs than books….

Describe your blog in three words.
Extremely high brow.
Nah, I’m kidding.
Rambly, fun, different.
What is your favourite thing about your blog/blogging?
I know this is probably the part where I should say that my favourite part of blogging is meeting other like-minded people who love the books I love and encourage my passion for them. And please don’t get me wrong, that is my favourite thing.
But you’ve probably heard the same things from other bloggers so my second favourite thing about blogging is gaining the confidence to voice my opinion on the things I’m passionate about. I wouldn’t say I was necessarily a shy person, but I’m quite a conscious person, if that makes any sense. I’m very conscious that if I keep rabbiting on about Marchetta or Pullman or Collins or Rowling then people will roll their eyes and move away. But with my blog, I have this little part of the internet where I can ramble on as much as I want to about the things I love the most and people who feel the same way (or differently! I’m always up for a discussion!) can stumble upon it and start a discussion.
Unless they’re the ones who find my blog through searches for “Where can I buy an old coat?”… they probably don’t care about Peeta and his burnt bread.
What post or review are you most proud of, and why?
My favourite post(s) I’m proud of is probably my On Writing feature. I started the feature for a completely selfish reason: I’m an aspiring YA writer and I wanted to know all the writing secrets. But as I posted more interviews and posts, it seemed to have turned into something else entirely. And it’s so brilliant to see other aspiring writers, my friends and strangers, all at different stages of their writing journeys reading the interviews and posts and finding them useful. It makes me think that the hard behind-the-scenes work (persuading the authors they want to be interviewed by me, the questions, etc etc) is more than worth it.     

What are your top three favourite book blogs, and why?
Oh good grief, this is a horrible question. Just three? Can I not just direct to the side bar of my blog? That is my ultimate list of book blogs that I love. But seeing as I’m wimping out of narrowing it down to just three, I’ll give you my top three things that will make me love a blog. 1) I love bloggers that don’t take themselves too seriously. Blogging is supposed to be FUN. 2) Bloggers who have an opinion. No reader can love every single book they read, if you don’t like it, I want to know why! You never know, the reason you might dislike it might be the reason I love it! 3) Bloggers who write fascinating and unique posts and not ones that are loosely based on something that was marginally controversial because you want to get more hits.  

Can you think of a time another blogger's review made you actually buy/borrow/read a book?
Oh, I rely on bloggers to recommend at least 75% of the books I read. Recently though, two reviews (well, one is technically a post) that come to mind are Rey from Wordchasing’s  Five Reasons to Read The Montmaray Journals and Heidi from Bunbury in the Stacks’ review of Fire Spell by Laura Amy Schlitz.
What was the last book that made you... 
-Laugh. The book I’m currently reading, Crow Boy, made me laugh but I don’t think it was intentional. It’s about a boy from Manchester (waaaayyy) who goes to Edinburgh and he’s getting bullied because he hasn’t got a coat and one of the bullies is like, “Oh he’s Liam Gallagher, he’s too cool for a coat”. Which is obviously a lie because it’s common knowledge that Liam Gallagher is rather partial to a Parka. OK, maybe that’s just me finding that funny.  
-Cry. I was an absolute wreck after Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta.   
-Throw it across the room in fury. And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky. Urgh, I could barely get past the first chapter because it touched a raw nerve about something that I admit I’m sensitive about. But yeah, it just made me angry.  
-Push it onto others. Recently, I’ve got two people, Maree and Anna, to read Keren David’s When I Was Joe series.  
-Stay up til 2am reading. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – gosh that book is good.  

Would you rather read only five books for the rest of the life, but they're really amazing - or read hundreds/thousands that are all mediocre?
Five books, definitely. I’m a strong advocate of giving up on books if you don’t like them because… well, why would you want to read a crap book when there are so many other books to discover? I’m also a strong advocate of re-reading your favourite books… so yes. Definitely only five books. 
You’re not going to ask me which five, are you?!
OK, time to play Snog, Marry, Avoid, The Marchetta Edition. Who would you snog/marry/avoid out of...
You are a cruel, cruel, horrible woman, Ms Belle
-Finnikin, Froi and Lucian
(Small spoilers for Froi of the Exiles & Quintana of Charyn!) 
OK, I’d avoid the ginger cat (sorry Finn!), I’d…. snog Lucian and I’d marry Froi. Although, actually, maybe I should snog Froi and marry Lucian. I think I would fare better in a fight with Phaedra than Q… and I’m quite fond of my hair on my scalp. I adore Froi and would marry him in a heartbeat but I don’t want to be responsible for splitting him and Q up.
Sorry Phaedra, Fleece Boy is mine.  

-Tom Mackee, Jonah Griggs and Jacob Coote
HA… OK. Sorry Jacob, I’m giving you and your leather jacket a wide berth. Jonah will get snogged silly in the tree house and Mackee’s going to propose at the Sydney International Airport. 
Thank you Jo for being my very first guest!


  1. Argh, I just want to squish you both in a big hug and force you to be my best friends! Love, love, love this post - it's such a great idea, Belle! And Jo, you make me cackle like a drunk hyena. I love youse guys.

    1. *gets involved in the big squishy hug*

      You don't need to force us, Rey. The money you send us will be fine. ;)

  2. Aw, thanks Rey! BIG SQUISHY HUGS!

  3. Where's the "I LIKE" button?!
    I Love this, Belle! Great idea and very cool interview.
    I am new to this blog but I will definitely come back for more posts!

    Little PS: can't take Lucian and Jonah and Tom all for yourself! Nooooo waaaayyyy! No!
    Give me at least a Luci-en to marry or I'll have to go for Perri the Savage and YOU will be the one to tell Tesadora..hehe ;-)


    1. Ha, sorry Nana! No take backs. ;)

      And yes, I'm so glad you found Belle's blog! <3 It (and she) is wonderful!

  4. I love this feature, Belle! It's always great to pay it forward to those people who inspire us! You have definitely put Jo and her amazing blog on my reading radar! Great job, both of you!

    1. :D

      Thanks Nikki! I hope you like my blog!

      ps. Just spent lots of time, moseying through your site. I love it! This is such a great way to discover new bloggers!

  5. Love this feature and the interview questions:) Also, loved peeping at Jo's bookshelves. Jo's voice and her blog are some of my absolute favorites and she always makes me laugh while still providing tons of information and I freaking adore her On Writing series. The interviews always feel like she is talking to a friend. I think she brings out the best in people. You're awesome, Belle. I look forward to reading more of these!

    1. Flann, you're gonna make a girl blush! ;)

      Thanks and you know the feeling's mutual. I can't wait to read more of these posts!

  6. You're both brilliant! I have some serious question envy :)
    I love Jo's blog and her On Writing posts are always a must-read. Goods blogs need to have a strong voice, and you're both sorted on that front :)


  7. Belle and Jo, I loved this! The questions were excellent, and I love getting to know more about Jo. Her tangential posts always make me incredibly happy, and can make a review for a book completely fresh, even if I've seen it reviewed tons of times before. Also, happy to know I can push you to read Fire Spell--BECAUSE IT'S AWESOME. :P

    Just remember, Jo: write drunk, edit sober.

    1. Ha, Heidi, this is why I love you! Thank you so much for your comments, that means a lot to me. Especially making a book that you've read about tons of times feel fresh. <3

      And yeah.. I promise I'll sick to that advice. But.. can't I edit pumped up on Jazzies? I'll take your silence as a yes. ;)

  8. I love that the first thing I saw on Jo's shelves was.... DIE HARD. Hahahaha. I demand a special review of Die Hard on WtOC, Jo!

    Mandee sent me Freckles and they were deliciiiious! Jo, was your great granddad the reason that Jack Dawson was on the Titanic?!

    This is such a great feature, Belle. Love the theme song. :)


    1. Thanks Maggie!

      Confession: I haven't watched Die Hard.

    2. YOU'VE NOT SEEN DIE HARD? God Belle. This post is no longer about me... are you kidding?

      And Maggie... I'll tell you a secret. I'm hoping, one day, I'll write a book about John McClane's teenage years.

      I know you'll be it's biggest fan.

    3. I'm The Worst. I understand if you can't talk to me anymore.

  9. I totally thought I'd already commented! Anywho... I LOVE this feature! This is such a great interview, I just love it all!

    Jo, I love the tone and personality of your blog and this just shone through in this interview! That is definitely one of my favourite things about your blog: your personality (as well as your wonderful reviews!) Also - so jealous of your book/dvd walk in cupboard thing! LOVE IT!

    Belle, likewise - I love your reviews and your new feature!

    Good job guys! <3

    1. Thanks Maree <3 You're so lovely. And yeah, there used to be an alcove/desk kinda thing there but I decided I needed to have more room for books.

      This is why I write all my stuff on my knee on an overheating laptop. ;)

    2. I thought it was just me with the overheating laptop on my knee! Glad I'm not alone in doing possibly permanent damage to my lower half.

    3. Oh my gosh! I do that, too! Until my dad comes in all like, "Hey, that's not good for the laptop." ;P

  10. OMG, I love Jo, too! Great first choice for this! :)

    1. To know Jo is to love Jo ;)

    2. *blushes*

      You sure know how to make a girl blush. ;)

  11. I love this feature! It's a nice idea! :)