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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

SPFBO: Interview with Becky M. (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Today I'm so glad to do a different kind of interview. Today I'm interviewing one of the SPFBO Judges from SPFBO 2021/ SPFBO 7. Becky M is a booktuber situated in the UK and is a lover of Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror, Apocalypse, Dystopia and a big Stephen King fan. This was the first year of her judging in this contest and to add to this, she had possibly one of the toughest groups to judge. I thought it would be great to glean her insights as a debutant and being only the second booktuber judge in the past seven editions. 

So read ahead to get to know Becky and find out what she thinks...

Q] HI Becky, thank you for your time today and welcome to FBC. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started as a booktuber?
Becky: Hi Mihir, thanks for inviting me! I’m in my late 30s and I live in the UK with 2 cats. I’ve always been a reader, as soon as I could pick books up! I remember being introduced to Arthur C Clarke around the age of 12, swiftly followed by Lord Of The Rings and it’s been a line of science fiction and fantasy since then.
I started with a makeup channel on youtube around the start of 2008 which quickly ballooned. That was definitely an interesting time to be on youtube, no one really had any idea of what it was going to become at that point! But it became very stressful and I fell out with the whole industry and quit the channel. I realised I missed and enjoyed the actual process of youtube and after some thought about direction, I created mybooktube channel in 2013, and here we are!
Q] How were you first introduced to indie/self-published books? Which was the first indie title that really made you sit up and take notice?
Becky: I bought my first kindle in about 2011 (the keyboard edition still remains my favourite!) and I went on a spree finding as many free books on amazon as I could. I wasn’t really aware of the difference between trad pub and self pub at that point, I tore through so, so many zombie books!

I’d say it was r/printSF and their hype around We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E Taylor that really taught me the difference. And really hooked me! I subscribed to Kindle Unlimited at that point as well.

Q] When did you first hear about the SPFBOcontest?
Becky: Like many others, r/fantasy! I think the second year was just kicking off when I started reading more about it.

Q] Did Mark approach you about getting involved with SPFBO?
Becky: I had actually applied before, but hadn’t been selected. I saw the post asking for new judges on the SPFBO facebook group for round 7 and almost didn’t respond. Fortunately, I did! Mark contacted me with a yes!
Q] This year was your first year as an SPFBO judge. How was your experience?
Becky: It’s been chaos and adventure in the best way! I got to read books I would never have discovered without SPFBO. I thought I knew what to expect after following the contest for so long, but 30 books is really a lot, especially when doing it yourself. But it’s been an amazing experience. I enjoyed my initial batch of books and finished those sooner than expected. All the judges have been so supportive of this new judge, which really made things easier! Everyone involved in the SPFBO has really been fantastic. 

Q] I must say looking at your group of books, it was possibly one of the heaviest in terms of talent and spectacular covers. How hard was it for you to narrow down your finalist?
Becky: There was a ridiculous amount of talent in my group!
It was difficult but at the same time not! At the end I had 4 books, 2 were really good and 2 were excellent. I went back and forth between the last 2 right up until I recorded my finalist video and in the end, chose the one that felt a bit more special.

I offered the other as a Senlin Safety Net as I felt it deserved the chance.
Q] It’s a very tight race with this year’s finalists and Legacy Of The Brightwash is poised right at the top with 2 scores to go. How would you rate its chances?

Becky: I am really hoping for a top 5 finish. Would be a good way to end my first year as a judge and for Krystle Matar for her debut. This year’s scoring has been so tight that it’s still impossible to call with less than 2 weeks to go.

Q] Will you be coming back for next year? I sincerely hope so
Becky: I am :)

Q] Besides your finalist, were there any other titles that you like to shine a spotlight on?
Becky: Wolfeater was my runner up, a standalone quest through an icy wilderness. Some beautiful scenic writing and amazing characters!
DaughterOf No Worlds was a complete surprise for me. I read it early on in the contest and it’s honestly a cover I would have scrolled past without SPFBO. But the two lead characters would not leave my brain and there were so many interesting things going on with the magic and the setting. I’ve since read the rest of the trilogy and it’s all just fantastic.
Q] What would be your advice for new judges wanting to be a part of this competition?
Becky: The same advice given to me at the start - don’t be afraid to DNF a book, there’s a lot of reading to get through. But also, just enjoy the process! There’s a whole batch of new worlds to explore!

Q] Thanks for your time Becky. I hope next year’s lot will be a little less intense and hopefully not be the group of death. Any parting thoughts for the readers.
Becky: Hahah, I hope so too!
Just want to give a massive thank you to everyone who’s followed this year’s SPFBO! And to everyone who’s picked up one of the books because a review looked interesting, that’s why we do this.

Thanks again Mihir!



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