Hello and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules! Since we are a book club, you know we had to offer something that included a book shelf. A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories. Here on this “SHELF,” we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask. We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but, no one has dared to cover them. WE get personal! Because when you sit on this “SHELF,” YOU are an open book! Even if I have to pry you open!
Today, we have a very special guest on the SHELF with us, member, ROBERT FEAR. Robert is our “SPOTLIGHT” Author for the month of July and we are celebrating him all month long. This week, he gets to sit on the shelf with me!
NJ: Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf? We’ve made it more comfortable in 2017, in that we want all of our guests to feel at home…that’s if they’re coming from a nice and neat one, and we also wanted the lay out to be a bit safer….you know, we’ve had a few accidents up here on this shelf? So, comfy?
RF: Yes, thanks Nonnie. I’m a little nervous, but thanks for inviting me to be a guest on your new, very comfortable shelf. It’s a real honour!
NJ: Thank you, Mr. FEAR…what a perfect name when you’re sitting up here with me. Let’s start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name?
RF: Robert Fear is my birth name.
NJ: And I love it each time you say it! Tell us where you were born? Do you still live there now? If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?
RF: I was born in a city called Leicester in England. My family left there when I was 11 and moved south to a village in Surrey called South Nutfield. My teenage years were spent growing up there. I now live in a town called Eastbourne on the south coast.
NJ: Married or single, Robert?
NJ: Any kids? What kind?
RF: No, although I have two grown-up nephews and a niece. Also a 5 year-old great-nephew.
NJ: Those will do just fine, too! Aren’t nieces and nephews grand? If you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one (if they had to) would keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one would immediately throw you into a nursing home and only visit you at Christmas?
RF: I will be 62 this year so not old and cranky yet, or I don’t think so! I haven’t really considered the rest of your question, maybe I should.
NJ: I think you should. When your mind starts to leave you, you never know which family member is going to draw that short straw (aka YOU) and what they’ll do with you (or to you) when it happens, so if I were you…I’d start pondering. Any pets? What kind?
RF: We are cat people. Over the years we have looked after a succession of rescue cats and enjoy their company. At the moment we have three: Floyd, Hazell and Jet.
How Nonnie feels about cats…
NJ: Uh, yea. OK, so what’s the food that’s so good to you, you go to bed dreaming about it, and you forego breakfast just to get to it?
RF: I can’t say that I’ve ever felt that way about food to be honest.
NJ: WOW! OK. #Shocking. What’s your favorite color, Robert?
NJ: Yea, I think blue’s kinda boring, but OK. Live and let live. How about your favorite sport. Have one of those?
NJ: Yeeeeeessssss, I can totally see you in a soccer game! So, any favorite TV Shows?
RF: ‘Have I Got News For You’ – it is a satirical panel quiz show on UK television. Very funny!
NJ: You’ll have to tell me more about it after the show. As you can see, I LOVE funny/humor! So, who’s your favorite Actress or Actor?
RF: I think it would have to be Tom Hanks. He is such a versatile actor and I’ve enjoyed many of his films.
NJ: I just hung up the phone with Tom (yes, we’re on a first name basis), and he told me to tell you…
I know, you didn’t know that I knew him. Oh, stop…I see that you’re gushing all over yourself. I know tons of folks. I know folks in high places …
…and low places, too
So, Robert, do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind just letting it all go?
RF: I enjoy walking to stay fit. Eastbourne is a great place for that, with a 4 mile promenade and it’s close to the South Downs National Park as well.
NJ: I love walking and running, too! Your place sounds like heaven! Robert, what’s your biggest pet peeve that makes you want to spit nails? (For the record, NJ does not condone violence, but she does believe in being honest so she admits that there are those times and there are those people, who do cause her to want to spit a few nails in the direction of their foreheads. Hey, just being honest. It’s the only way I roll).
RF: Readers who leave 1 star reviews and get very personal and cruel about the author. I don’t think there is any need for that and it can be very upsetting.
NJ: Robert, here is where you need to become really tuned in to your last name. You see, I have no problem with a reader who has taken the time to read a book, who has spent their hard-earned money on said book, to give that book a 1-star review if they feel that it deserves it. I don’t believe in attacking an author or getting personal in reviews, EVER, it should always be about the book, but I believe in total honesty in reviews and regarding writing, for that matter. So, you might be upset with me one day when I post a 1-star review. But, that’s OK. So, are you neat or messy?
NJ: Yayyyyy! I like you again! Facebook or Twitter?
NJ: We’ve come to realize that the internet is giving way to tons of budding friendships. Who would you say is the one person you’ve connected with the most…your internet BFF or buddy?
RF: This would have to be Frank Kusy, the well-known travel memoir author. Frank has been incredibly supportive and is always there when I need advice. He also introduced me to a Facebook group which has helped me tremendously.
NJ: Who do you favor most: Nonnie Jules or WonderWoman? Be honest.
RF: I thought they were one and the same person!
Oh, shucks…you’re such a flatterer!
NJ: We all know that WonderWoman has her truth lasso and Nonnie has…well, just her truths, in the no-nonsense way she forces us to be honest and tell it like it is, whether it makes others uncomfortable or not. In your opinion, which one does a better job of making the world a better place? You can be honest here, too.
RF: It would have to be WonderWoman Nonnie Jules!
Robert, stop it! You are tickling me pink!
NJ: Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read:
RF: Kevin and I in India by Frank Kusy and That Bear Ate My Pants by Tony James Slater
NJ: OK, can’t say that I’ve heard of either. ONE good INDIE book you’ve read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it…
RF: One of its Legs are Both the Same by Mike Cavanagh
NJ: What was so great about it?
RF: This is probably best summarized by my 5* review:
I had the privilege of being able to beta read this wonderful book. It is a treasure trove of memories, woven together in a vividly descriptive life tapestry.
With the knowledge of a recent diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, Mike Cavanagh shares his innermost feelings, reflecting on his younger years and why he was so ‘different’. Things he knows now make these reflections even more poignant and provide an additional layer to his many weird and wonderful recollections.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is an engrossing memoir and highly recommended.
Yea, uhhhhh, never had that happen here before, you know, someone just ‘reading’ a review like that. For a minute, I thought this was SPOTLIGHT HONORS with John Howell.
So, Robert, after you read books, do you post reviews?
RF: I always mean to and do so more often than not, especially if I know that the author does not have many reviews for the book yet.
NJ: Good for you, but I’m going to need you to do better and go beyond “meaning to.” Let’s get those reviews posted! Robert, what do you think readers should base their reviews on?
RF: Quality and content of the book.
NJ: OK. Are you one of those who are afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?
RF: No, not at all, although all my reviews are 4 or 5 stars for one reason – I tend to be very choosy as to which books I read. If I start reading a book and am not getting on with it, then I would leave it and not review it. My time is too precious!
NJ: OK. Read any poorly written books lately?
RF: No. Well, not beyond the first twenty pages anyway.
NJ: Are you an author? Are you a good one? C’mon, we love honesty here.
RF: I am not a particularly good author. This may come as a bit of a shock as I am in the ‘Author Spotlight’ this month, Nonnie, but I do not see myself as a ‘proper’ author. I am more of a diarist or memoirist. My other skills include proof-reading and editing. It is only with my new book that I am aspiring to become an accomplished author.
NJ: You have the write attitude, Robert, which means you are going to go far…and, as a good/great author! How long have you been writing?
RF: I have had an interest in writing and editing since my early teens. My earliest endeavor was the ‘Library Times’ which I laboriously wrote out by hand and distributed amongst family and school friends. Next came the ‘Crusader Comet’ which lasted for over twenty monthly editions. This was for a local Crusaders group that I attended. As this was in the early 70’s, before word processors, I used a typewriter and produced stencils for use with a duplicator. In the sixth form, when I was 17-18, I studied English Literature for one of my Advanced Level exams. My dream at that time was to become a journalist. I was also appointed as Editor of the school magazine, ‘The Pilgrim’, and I helped produce four editions of this professionally produced periodical. After that my writing lapsed as I took a different career path and then went off on my travels. It was not until 1981 that I embarked on my Asian trip and recorded everything I did in a handwritten diary. This formed the basis of ‘Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia’, which was published in 2013.
NJ: WOW! Interesting. Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?
RF: I like to think I can. What I find difficult to accept is negative and unreasonable criticism.
NJ: That’s good to know, Robert, as so many can’t take any type of critiques regarding their writing. I literally beg for folks to point out any mistakes they find in my writing, because I want to be able to hold my own against the best. You can’t grow unless you learn to listen and take in those things that you may perceive to be negative…take notes and learn so that you can turn them into positives.
Robert, name two books that you’ve written?
RF: The first is an edited version of the diary I referred to previously:
Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia
The second was mostly written by my father when he was alive. I wrote the forward and did most of the editing, while my younger brother, Alastair, wrote the final three chapters:
Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren
NJ: Which one do you think is the best?
RF: They are both very different types of books. Mine is in a diary format and covers the 158 days of my travels around Asia – this style and the drug use throughout is not appreciated by some. My father’s memoirs cover a much longer period and are written very well. They cover various aspects of his being both inside and outside the Exclusive Brethren religious sect, while holding true to his faith in God. I think Exclusive Pedigree is the better book because of its wider appeal and the way it is written. My father was a very good writer and worked as a journalist in his later years.
NJ: I can’t wait to read both! Do you have a blog or website? I love GREAT blogs, so would you say that yours is written well enough for harsh critics like me to enjoy?
RF: My blog site fd81.net has been around for over two years. It is different to most blogs and is very travel-orientated. The earlier sections contain the daily serialization of my diary, during the time it was being prepared for its second edition. Since then I have featured many travel stories and travel highlights that have been entered in the annual competitions. In addition there are guest blogs from fellow travel writers and bloggers. I think you would have to check it out but hopefully you will find it interesting and enjoy reading it.
NJ: Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?
This would definitely be the Facebook group.
Really, Rob? (Where’s my beyhive? Oh, I forgot, I’m not Beyonce so I don’t have a Beyhive to sting him. Darnit! Gotta get me one of those!)
NJ: Robert, I’m a journalist so I’m going to remain professional here. (Mumbling) How were you helped by this group?
RF: It is a very supportive group of authors and readers…
NJ: I changed my mind. I can’t do it…I can’t remain professional and sit thru this!!!!! You answered the question wrong above and so, we don’t want to hear your response! Right, Nonnie-hive?
NJ: *Sigh* Robert, since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you think of the club?
RF: I have only been a member since late last year. Although I felt a little overwhelmed at first, I am slowly getting more and more involved. There are so many great activities and the club is very supportive of members when they actively participate in the club.
NJ: Have you come across any other online entities like it?
RF: No, not really
Guess you forgot about your Facebook group then…
NJ: Would you recommend us to your friends and family?
RF: Yes, definitely.
NJ: What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC? (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)
RF: I wish that I had the time to participate more in all the different programs organized by RRBC. The area I have used the most is the BOOK CLUB SELECTIONS page and I am always interested in the BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions. In addition I check out the #RRBC Twitter hashtag on a daily basis, re-tweeting and liking posts where I can.
NJ: Well, good for you, Robert! Those are great areas to participate in. This shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words for our guests today?
RF: Thank you very much for having me as your guest ON THE SHELF today. It came as a real surprise to be invited and I hope that my answers have been of interest to you and all your guests.
NJ: Thank you so much for hanging out on THE SHELF with us today, Robert! You have definitely entertained us all and made this one memorable interview, right gang?
To my guests, please pick up a copy of one of Robert’s books or both of them.
Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet? Well, here’s your chance! And, since Robert was on the “SHELF” today, tell them he sent you. Make it a great day, my friends…or not. The choice is all yours! We’ll see you next month, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!