Friday, November 9, 2012

Blogger Spotlight: Beauty in Ruins

Today, we must thank SSP's Michael West a little, as it was a pair of his short stories that initially brought Bob Milne of Beauty in Ruins into regular contact with SSP. Since then, SSP has been honored to have been on Bob's site with several of its authors on tours, Amazon Free Days, reviews and other activities. Beauty in Ruins is a first class site run by a dedicated guy with both a love for speculative fiction and an openness to independent and small press releases. You can't ask for anything more than that! So proceed forward and visit with the main man at Beauty in Ruins, Bob Milne!

Blogger Spotlight #11:

1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.

I spend my days in the office spinning corporate fictions (press releases, marketing proposals, and internal communications), and my evenings at home spinning literary fictions (short stories, novels, and book reviews). In between, I am the father of two boys, and husband to one of the most patient and understanding women in the world. I often think that the fact that my family can put up with my eccentricities is just proof that truth really is stranger than fiction!

2. What kinds of books do you like to read for pleasure? Any favorites?

I like imaginative tales of places that could never exist and things that could never happen, so I tend to read a lot of epic fantasy, supernatural horror, and science fiction. Stephen King has long been a favourite of mine, and has the distinction of being the first 'adult' author to warp my mind. Somewhere, in one of the many boxes scattered about our house, that old tattered paperback copy of Pet Sematary is just waiting for one of my boys to give it a read.

As much as he often tries my patience with teasers about projects that seem to take forever to see the light of day, I'm not sure there's a more complete storyteller alive today than Clive Barker. His Books of Blood contain some of the best short stories I've ever read, and Imajica is one of those few books I can read again and again, always finding something new to enjoy.

When I'm in the mood for something different, however, I'll also dabble in a techno-thriller (Tom Clancy), an adventure (Clive Cussler), a good thriller (Preston & Child), or any story with a strong element of archaeology or paleontology. I may not be able to make a living hunting for dinosaurs or lost civilizations, but that doesn't mean I can't dream of what might have been.

3. When did you start your blog, and what motivated you to do it?

I've been blogging at Beauty in Ruins for about a year now, but have been posting book reviews to places like Goodreads and Amazon for several years. As for what motivated me, there were really two elements.

The first was simply a desire to add what I felt was some much-needed variety to the book blogging world. I had a few genre-specific blogs I had been following for quite some time, but most of what was out there seemed to be focused on more mainstream or young adult titles. The authors I rushed out to buy on release day, and the books I stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning to finish, just didn't seem to get the exposure I felt they deserved. It was really about giving back, thanking them for their work, and hopefully directing a few new readers their way.

The second was, quite honestly, a desire to network with readers, authors, and publishers. Ever since I realized that being the next Indiana Jones was not a viable career option, I have wanted to be a writer. Over the past year I've learned that the opportunities out there today, thanks to publishers like Seventh Star Press, are almost limitless, and that I am certainly not alone in the pursuit of dreams.

4. How did you come up with the name for your site? Is there a story behind it?

Actually, the name Beauty in Ruins came about more from my photography hobby than reading or reviewing. I've always been fascinated by abandoned historical places, especially those that have a story behind them. Somebody once commented that I really knew how to capture beauty in the ruins in photograph, and the sentiment just kind of stuck with me.

5. What kinds of genres do you cover on your site?

Fantasy, horror, and science fiction are definitely the predominant genres on my blog, mostly because that's what I've been reading (of offered to read). I haven't had the chance to work in as many techno-thriller, adventures, or thrillers as I would like, but they're sitting there on the shelf, just waiting for their turn.

6. What kinds of regular features do you have on your site?

The only 2 memes I regularly participate in are Waiting on Wednesday, which is great for sharing anticipated reads, and Feature & Follow Friday, which has been great for networking and getting to know new bloggers. I also take part in the #TuesDecay theme on Google+, but I haven't been as diligent about cross-posting those photos to my blog as I should be.

7. What is the hardest thing about being a blogger?

Saying 'no' to a review request. I hate having to turn down an author, especially when the book looks interesting, but it's far too easy to become overburdened. When getting through that pile of review titles becomes more of a burden than a pleasure, it's time to practice that 'no' and give myself time to do justice to the books I have waiting.

8. What are your favorite things about being a blogger?

Number one would be discovering new books, and number two would be getting to know new authors. There are so many titles that have come my way over the past year that I never would have known existed, much less been compelled to pick up, had it not been for the introductions made through my blog.

9. If you could give a piece of advice or two to authors looking to work with a blog site, what would you say?

First and foremost, I have to say do your homework. Research the blogs you want to work with, find out what they cover (and don't cover), and make sure you're a good fit. I have a pretty detailed Review Policy posted on my site, and I'm still amazed by how many authors submit books that I've explicitly stated do not appeal to me in any fashion.

Second, don't be afraid to follow-up on a request. It's one thing for a reviewer to have a stack of paperbooks staring at them from the shelf, demanding attention, but it's another thing entirely to have a few e-books buried in their e-reader. Don't be impatient, but don't risk letting yourself get lost in the shuffle.

10. Any last thoughts or things you might want to say to readers who are finding out about your blog for the first time?

I may be strange and eccentric, and our tastes may not always match, but I am passionate about what I read. You're not going to get friendly, non-committal, safe reviews from me. If I love a book, then you're going to know it - and hopefully want to read it! Similarly, while I would rather quietly discard a book I didn't enjoy than waste space telling you about it, I'm not shy about reviewing books that I've absolutely loathed or detested. Also, I don't try to make my reviews fit a certain niche, so don't be surprised to see something come up that you didn't expect - odds are, I didn't expect it either!

Be sure to connect with Bob and Beauty in Ruins at the following links!


  1. Thanks again for the invitation, Stephen!

  2. No problem! Was great having you here!

  3. Interesting interview. Really enjoyed it! This probably doesn't relate much to your site but I wonder if you can do a feature post on the site, ReadWave and perhaps the founders, Rob and Raoul?

    I would be very grateful if you could get back to me on my blog (the link is there if you click my name) or by email: