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Surrealistic Planet

Meet The Blogger: Nick Borelli from Out of this World

In this series of interviews, I’m talking to a bunch of people who are the lifeblood of the #indieauthor. Their hard work and time, their enthusiasm and commitment, enables the #selfpublishing community to thrive. Simply put, if they didn’t review and promote our books, no one would know about us. Which is why I thought it was time to turn the tables and ask them the questions.

My first guest is Nick Borrelli. His site is Out of This World. Nick’s tastes are eclectic, and as his site suggests, focuses on speculative fiction in all its forms. The other factor that cannot be overlooked; he’s a really nice guy. Let’s get to know more about him.

1. Tell us about yourself, Nick.

Hi Phil! First off thanks so much for having me as your inaugural guest, it’s quite the honor and I really appreciate it. My name is Nick Borrelli and I operate the science-fiction and fantasy book blog Out of This World SFF. The blog has been in existence for a little over 5 years now and it is there that I do book reviews, cover reveals, giveaways, and a lot of other interesting and fun bookish content. I currently make my home along the southern coast of New Jersey with my amazing wife, who I’ve been happily married to for 13 years, and our two daughters.

2. What prompted you to start blogging and reviewing?

It all started back in the early 2000’s when I was working as a Bookstore Manager at the now defunct Borders Books. It was such a fantastic place to work because there were a multitude of like-minded people with whom I would get to talk books with on a daily basis. I soon fell in love with the Science-Fiction and Fantasy genres as that was the section I was assigned to maintain. Before I knew it I had read most of the books on the shelves and there wasn’t a new release that I didn’t scoop up immediately. When I ultimately left Borders for a better opportunity as a data analyst at a research library, I found that I no longer had that social outlet to talk about books and frankly I started to get a little restless. So I decided after much thought that I would create my own blog and use that as my vehicle to shout about the books that I had read and loved. It has turned out to be way better than I could have ever hoped and coupled with my pretty prominent presence on Twitter I have met and become friends with so many great members of the book community. It’s almost like I’m back at the bookstore again all those years ago.

3. In a typical week, how much time do you spend reading and blogging?

Probably not as much as a lot of other bloggers because I have two daughters ages 12 and 9 and they keep me extremely busy. This is the prime age for lots of sports and other activities, so I frequently find myself driving them to one thing after another. Now that they are on summer break from school that has slowed down a bit and I do get more time to devote to reading and blogging. On average I’d say I read at least 20 hours a week and devote roughly about 5-6 hours a week to writing up blog content, whether that be reviews, book tour stuff, cover reveals, etc… I’m always working on content for the blog even if I’m not necessarily publishing anything that day/week. So there’s a fair amount of draft writing and editing going on behind the scenes no matter what.

4. I know I said your tastes are eclectic, but do you have a favourite type of book? Or genre? Can we tempt you to list some favourite authors?

As far as genres/subgenres go I’m a total sucker for portal fantasies in particular. I don’t really know why but I’ve always been attracted to stories that take place with one foot in the real world and another in some far-off fantasy land. I also tend to gravitate toward the darker stuff with lots of cool magic/sorcery. Off the top of my head some favorite authors of mine include Tad Williams, Michael R. Fletcher, Joe Abercrombie, Clayton W Snyder, RJ Barker, Martha Wells, Gareth Hanrahan, John Gwynne, Mike Shackle, Ed McDonald, Ben Galley, Krystle Matar, and Justin T. Call. I’m sure I forgot some others but these are a core group of authors who are an absolute “drop everything” for me as far as their books are concerned. They just never disappoint.

5. Reviewing and blogging requires energy and commitment. What sustains you?

I think it all comes down to my joy and love of reading. I know that might sound corny and a little simplistic, but reading is something that I find so much pleasure in and it’s always been a refuge and escape from the everyday nonsense and stress that we all experience. It only stands to reason then that reviewing and blogging would be a natural extension of that. I never for one day have viewed what I do as work. If it ever gets to feeling that way I’d most-likely just pack it in and stop doing it. But I don’t really see that happening, it’s just too much in my blood and I would feel kind of empty without this fun little passionate hobby of mine in my life. It also helps that I have a family that is 100% supportive/understanding and that goes a long way into me being able to continue doing this in my free time.

6. Conversely, what annoys you about this job?

Hmmm, I’d probably say dealing with #booktwitter drama is what annoys me the most. It can get exhausting at times with the same three or four topics being brought up and debated ad nauseum and the weird personal attacks. I try to tune it out as much as I can but it can be really difficult to do, especially when people who are my good friends in the community get pulled into it. I don’t have to tell you that there are a million trolls out there and they aren’t concerned with doing anything other than creating fake engagement for themselves and pumping up their own egos. I have zero time for that.

7. What “ingredients” does a book need to have to really get you excited. I’m not talking generic things like world building or character either. More specific things.

The thing that gets me most excited about a book is if there is a central mystery involved in the plot that is really intriguing and one that I can’t shake from my mind. The best books to me are the ones that have me thinking and borderline obsessing about them even when I’m not reading them. Those are incredibly special books and are few and far between. But when I find one like that I try to savor it as much as possible and I almost slow down my reading pace because I want to be able to enjoy every minute. When an author is especially adept at keeping that mystery tight to the vest yet reveals via little nuggets that tantalize you into guessing what the mystery ultimately is, that is doubly rewarding. So yeah even though I’m reading a science-fiction or fantasy book most of the time, I still want it to have a really cool mystery that needs to be solved in the end. Those are my favorite types of reads to immerse myself in.

8. If Nick Borrelli was a character in a fantasy story, what kind of role would he play? And would he survive to the final page?!

Well I’m definitely not hero material by any stretch but I do enjoy a good song and a stiff drink so I’d probably be that random unassuming tavern guy who yells out a drunken request for the local jongleur/musician to play. But alas I never get to hear the song in its entirety because halfway through a huge brawl erupts and I end up getting unceremoniously hurled over the bar crashing into a pile of sharp cutlery and ale mugs. As I slowly baby crawl my way out the front door bleeding profusely from the forehead, I join the ranks of those insignificant disposable side characters never to be seen and heard from again. So no, I don’t survive past this scene let alone to the final page.

9. You’re going on holiday and you’re going to have lots of time to relax (so without the family!) What five books would you take with you?

Wow, okay so I don’t usually do rereads on vacation so these would have to be brand new books that I haven’t read yet but am super excited about. In that case I would probably take with me TRAITOR OF REDWINTER by Ed McDonald, SAEVUS CORAX DEALS WITH THE DEAD by KJ Parker, SIN AND SORROW by Michael R Fletcher, SMOKER ON THE PORCH by Dom Watson, and THE HUNTERS by David Wragg.

10. You help authors (me included) by providing Cover Reveals. Explain to us why these are important. Do you think the quality of book covers have changed over time?

Cover reveals are my absolute favorite thing to do as a blogger and I wish I got to do more of them honestly. I think it’s important because it not only creates buzz and anticipation for an author’s upcoming new release, but it also gives much deserved recognition to the illustrator as well. We all know how hard these illustrators work and the gorgeous images they create, but so many times they get lost in the mix. So a cover reveal can lead to the possibility of other authors reaching out and giving these uber talented creators some more business. And on the author side of things….it’s FREE ADVERTISING! I mean, where else can you get that these days? I just see it as a great way to celebrate both the book and the artwork that goes along with it. As for me they are just a blast to do and I get really giddy being able to be the first person to show this incredible artwork to the world. I just love everything about them and I wish more authors would utilize us book bloggers, booktubers, bookstagrammers, and booktokers more. It’s such a benefit to everyone involved. As far as the quality of book covers, yes I do believe they have changed and definitely for the better. We are seeing artists pushing the envelope and coming up with such insanely great artwork these days. I feel like my jaw is constantly dropping every time I see a cover reveal announced on Twitter. The quality is just off the charts today and there are so many new and exciting illustrators out there following in the footsteps of the greats like Whelan, Sweet, and Youll.

11. Tell us what qualities matter when you write a book review. Not everyone finds them easy to do so what do you comment on and why?

Mainly I want to be as honest as possible while also being respectful and not making it appear like a personal attack on the author. Because ultimately it’s about why the book as a form of entertainment either did or didn’t work for me. Anything else is irrelevant and doesn’t help a potential reader decide whether or not they want to give it a try. That’s also why even in my not so glowing reviews I always make it a point to mention the things in the book that someone else might enjoy. We all know reading is subjective so just because a book fell flat with me doesn’t mean that another reader won’t love it. So I try to keep that in mind when I approach writing my reviews. Other than that, I believe it’s important to also get across the things about the book that made me go WOW because capturing what excites you with regard to a story is kind of the equivalent of talking to your friends about the awesome scenes in a movie you watched or a great guitar solo in a song that you love. I do this because I love books and the heart of writing reviews, at least for me, is to effectively convey how that particular book made me feel while I was reading it, good or bad.

12. You’ve always been an active supporter of #indieauthors. Why?

I guess it’s because I feel like there’s this unfair stigma attached indie authors for whatever reason and frankly, I hate it. It’s a stigma that assumes that because a book is indie or self-published the quality is somehow inferior. What annoys me most is that we don’t apply this same stigma to any other entertainment medium. Indie music is seen as cutting edge and experimental. Indie movies are looked at as avant garde and are frequently lauded at trendy film festivals. So why are indie authors/books any different? My top 3 reads of 2021 were self-published books and that isn’t me trying to promote self pub just for the sake of it. No, those books completely KICKED ASS! I just think people need to shed all of these preconceptions and more readers should try and open themselves up to reading indie. Not to mention that indie books are really where it’s at when it comes to authors writing what they want to write and not having to concern themselves with what sells or what’s popular. That makes for a much larger variety of diverse reads to choose from. I will always be a huge supporter of self pub and indie and I’m heartened to see that more and more reviewers lately have been adding these titles to their TBRs. SPFBO has much to do with it but I also think the more we all talk about how brilliant these books are the more other people will want to read them. So it’s kind of incumbent on us to continue shouting about them online or wherever. That’s when it truly becomes a snowball effect that I sincerely hope finally breaks down these ridiculous stereotypes.

13. Which superhero would you be? Marvel or DC!

I know that I’m going to be in the minority here but I gotta go DC even though they are getting pounded with the recent films. The Marvel movies are admittedly much better but I’ve kind of got a soft spot for DC. Mainly because the first movie I ever saw in the theater as a kid was the original Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve. From that point on I was kind of hooked on Superman and also the Superfriends cartoon series from the 70’s/80’s which I watched pretty religiously. So I guess you can consider me Team DC.

14. When you read, do you listen to music? If so, what kind?

Very rarely. I’m one of those readers that gets easily distracted if there’s music on in the background. If I do listen to music it has to be pretty mellow with no singing. So think ambient stuff like Brian Eno and Steve Roach or classic instrumental jazz like Miles Davis, Bill Evans, or Charlie Parker. Otherwise it’s just straight up silence for me.

15. Finally, if our readers want to discover more reviewers/bloggers, who would you recommend?

Wow, okay this is tough because I know I’m going to unintentionally leave some really talented and amazing people out! But I will mention some reviewers that I especially admire and think are always doing tremendous work:

· David W and the team at FanFiAddict

· Mihir and the team at Fantasy Book Critic

· Timy and the team at Queen’s Book Asylum

· Jacob at All Stars Were Red

· Celeste at A Literary Escape

· Caitlin at Realms of My Mind

· Michael at Track of Words

I know I left off some really awesome folks but I hope that they will forgive me due to space limitations.

Thanks Nick!

Thanks Phil! This was amazing fun and I had a wonderful time chatting with you. See you on Twitter!


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