Dawn Tindle is a prolific reader of books and a wonderful writer. So, naturally she is running one of my favourite book blogs on the internet. Not only beautifully designed, but also immensely rich in content – if you haven’t already stopped by the Book and Brew blog – you need to do so (after you’ve read this interview, of course!). Dawn Tindle launched the blog in 2016 after shadow judging the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. From a background of many years of editorial, copywriting and marketing roles, and qualifications in English and Marketing, Dawn offers her expertise to people looking for assistance with their writing. Please enjoy my interview with the wonderful Dawn Tindle…
When did you begin blogging?
I began in April 2016. I’d been running the Book and Brew book club for just over a year before that but hadn’t done any blogging for the group. We were asked by The Reading Agency to shadow judge the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and I’ve been blogging, social media sharing and taking copious Instagram pics of books since then.
I’m reading a preview of a book called The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. One of the benefits of being a book blogger is that publishers often give you advanced reader copies to review before publication.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
I remember having a small white bookcase filled with Ladybird Classics – tiny, illustrated books of classic fairy and folk tales. I devoured them all and re-read them thousands of times. There was also a laminated alphabet chart at the bottom of the stairs when my sister and I were little, so we practised our letters a lot!
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?
It’s cliched but To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a fantastic book to read in your youth. It’s beautifully written and brings a childhood innocence to some very complex issues, while encouraging the reader to consider the world from perspectives other than their own. Reading it when you’re forming your own identity and ideas about the world is a wonderful experience.
Can you remember when you decided to create your blog – what inspired you into action?
Getting the Baileys gig from The Reading Agency was really the catalyst to setting up the Book and Brew blog. I felt I should have a platform for sharing our experience as shadow judges and so spent a long night one Saturday (I was up until 2am!) trying to figure out WordPress in order to publish something halfway decent.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I worked in a shoe shop one summer when I was at sixth form college. I was 17 so only got paid about £2.50 an hour and had to touch a lot of sweaty feet. Not a great experience!
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
As a book blogger, I read an average of six books a month. That’s pretty good, I think, given I have a busy full-time job, fiance, friends and family to juggle too. I would always love to read more. I really miss taking the train to work (I now drive) as I used to be able to cram in a few more chapters on my commute.
What resources have you found useful while running your blog?
Finding images for a blog is really important. It’s not just about sourcing good-quality, professional pictures but styles that complement your aesthetic. I’ve found Pixabay and Pexels to be brilliant libraries of royalty-free images. Canva is also great if you want to create posters, social media images or headers, logos or other materials to promote your blog or specific projects. It’s easy to use and you can set up templates to use again and again.
I’ve read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier several times as I think it’s a Gothic classic, which is one of my favourite genres. I love Daphne Du Maurier’s writing style and Rebecca led me to lots of her other work so it has a special place in my heart.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
Most recently, I’ve recommended Life After Life by Kate Atkinson to everyone. It’s a beautiful book that makes you think while entertaining you with some funny, heart-wrenching and fascinating narratives. It’s definitely worth checking out.
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring blogger?
The most important thing is to blog about what you love. If you’re not passionate about your subject, you’ll be in trouble. That passion will not only sustain you when things get tough (when you’ve been to work all day but still have to find time to publish a post!) but shine through in the quality and tone of your writing. Readers can tell when you love what you’re doing and your enthusiasm will burst off the screen.
Secondly, I think it’s vital to take blogging tips with a pinch of salt. When I first started, I read loads of advice about how often you should post, what you should include in an article, how you should share it on social media and how to increase followers. What I figured out pretty quickly is that every blog and every blogger is different. Do what works for you and you’ll soon see good results.
What’s your favourite genre of book?
Literary fiction but that covers a huge amount of work. I can’t resist anything Gothic and retellings of fairy tales have intrigued me for as long as I can remember – probably due to reading all of those Ladybird Classics as a child.
What do you think a world without books would be like?
How could you even suggest it?!? Barren, uncreative, soulless, boring. Books encapsulate the world – all of its places, characters, challenges and rewards – and it would be awful without them.
Books educate, entertain and excite us. They have so many uses and so many varieties – they are a treasure trove of imagination. I’ve taken so much solace and comfort from books over my life that I really can’t praise them enough. But I’ll stop now. Or this could go on for a while!
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
I’m currently doing a project called The Full Works where I read the entire back catalogue of an author in a year. I’ve chosen Angela Carter first. She’s an author that’s fascinated me for years and I’m really intrigued to see how her work develops through the years.
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
Definitely not. E-books are convenient but they will never replace the joy of a real book. Research shows that readers are increasingly purchasing pulp fiction as e-books but investing in printed copies of the books they love. There is an emotional as well as financial value to owning books and, as a reader, you want to see, touch, feel and smell the novels you’ve read. And, you can’t get a signed copy of an e-book!
Books about being kind to each other. Understanding differences and appreciating them, not using them to divide, blame or shame. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee comes to mind again. Or perhaps some distopian fiction – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood or 1984 by George Orwell – would remind us of the slippery slope we seem to be on.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. This was the text I had to study for my English Literature GCSE and I loved examining it so much that I decided to do an English degree as a result. I went on to do an English Masters too, and I think this book was really the start of my academic/professional relationship with books.
What’s the worst advice you hear given to young people looking to start their own blog?
That everyone’s going to be interested in what they’re writing about. They won’t be. Modern culture tells us we should live our lives online and share every detail with the world. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone should have a blog. You need to write about something that is of interest to real people, and write it well.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
Probably too many to mention!
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I have a huge list of reviews to get through, which are mainly literary fiction novels. I’m hoping to fit in some more non-fiction as it’s an area I’ve not really read much – travel writing is a big interest of mine so I’d like to focus on that more in the next year.