Quickfire Questions with Books on the Nightstand

Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness run the excellent podcast Books on the Nightstand. Strictly Writing recently caught up with Ann...

What prompted you and Michael to set up the podcast?

Michael and I both spend a lot of time in our respective cars, and we both were listening to a lot of podcasts. But neither of us could find a book podcast that was conversational in tone -- most were author interviews or lengthy reviews. So we decide to create it ourselves! In our roles as publisher's sales representatives, we do many book talks to readers in bookstores, so the podcast seemed like a natural offshoot of those talks.

Were you surprised by how many people wanted to hear book talk?

Because we did many in-person book talks, I knew that people were interested. What we didn't realize was how many people we didn't know would find us and listen. Our initial thoughts was that we would do the in-person book talks and then the people we met there would be able to listen to us more often through a podcast. In reality, though, very few of our listeners come from in-person meetings; most of our listeners find us some other way.

What do you think a podcast brings that you don’t get from a blog?

The podcast allows us to be more natural and conversational than writing a blog ever could. Also, I think the passion comes through more clearly on audio -- sometimes it is hard to get across in writing just how much I love a book, because most of the adjectives are overused and sound forced.

You and Michael are both publishing professionals...do you ever get a kind of reading fatigue and think, ‘Not another damn manuscript!’

Never! It may sound surprising -- I've been doing this for more than 20 years, but it's still exciting when I get something new to read. What does get tiresome is not being able to finish every book that I want to finish. We have to sample hundreds of books a year, and can't afford the time to read them all to completion. It's not in my nature to abandon a book in the middle, and when I am really enjoying it, it is very frustrating to have to put it down.5.

How many books do you think you read in a week or month?

I read about 2 books a week from beginning to end, and usually read 20-50 pages of 5 or 6 more. I usually have an audiobook going at all times, too.

Tell us your top five books of all time...[sorry, I bet you’re wincing at this one]

Not wincing, but it is very hard to commit. So let's just say that these are my top 5 for now:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
(those are the easy ones ... here's where it gets hard)
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
And a new addition ... Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Have either of you ever had the urge to write a novel?

When I was a kid, I always thought I'd be a writer. Shortly after I started working in publishing, though, I realized how difficult it was and also how driven most successful authors are: I really believe that to be a good writer, a person has to *need* to write. I don't have that burning need -- there are always a million other things I'd rather be doing, so I leave the writing to others.
Are you a slow reader or do you gobble books up quickly?

I used to be a very fast reader, but since having kids I have slowed down considerably. I still turn the pages quickly, but I don't get enough time to actually sit down and read -- but then, I don't suppose many of us get the time to read that we'd like...

Check out the podcast here


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Helen Black said...

As a crime writer and a voracious crime reader, I don't know how you can put down a who dunnit.
Doesn't it bug you like on eof tose songs you can't egt out of your head?
HB x

Roderic Vincent said...

Interesting interview - I always find it reassuring to hear that there are actually people in the world who don't want to write a novel. There are none in this part of London. I will check out the podcast.

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Great to hear about your podcast. Your reading speed leaves me open-mouthed!

Caroline Green said...

Thanks again, Ann for talking to SW. I have to confess to being completely addicted to BOTNS and can thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in books.

Karen said...

Sounds really interesting, I must give this a go.