Hi everyone and welcome back to the third post in my segment of Behind the Blog Of… where I choose a blogger I highly admire and interview them so you can get to know more about the people behind the awesome posts we always adore. This post’s guest is a blogger whose posts I always enjoy reading, and who’s very articulate in his writing. He’s Callum McLaughlin, from the blog Callum McLaughlin!
Tell me about yourself!
Hi! My, name is Callum, and I’m a freelance writer from Scotland. I’ve been blogging in my little corner of the internet for more than five years now – isn’t it crazy how time flies? I love all things bookish, of course, and in fairly typical bookworm style, I’m also very fond of cats, and a nice cup of tea. I can be found on Twitter, WordPress, and Goodreads, and I also just set up a Letterboxd account, so please feel free to add me on any of those.
What other interests or passions do you have other than reading books and writing on your blog?
I like to talk a lot about other interests the blogger has, so I’ll definitely be asking more questions about this particular topic. I love going to the theatre, be it to see plays, ballet, musicals, or otherwise. I also love music, and have a modest collection of vinyl. I don’t travel as much as I’d like to, but I certainly enjoy exploring other countries and cultures.
Being a freelancer, writing is technically my day job, but I also do my own creative writing, with a particular focus on short stories and poetry at the moment.
When it comes to movies, a bit like with books, I love anything that has a gothic, ethereal quality. If a movie can combine a gripping story, with a dark atmosphere, and gorgeous visuals, I’ll be all over it. Some favourites include Annihilation, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Aliens.
Why did you decide to go freelance and how do you balance it between blogging and other hobbies?
I had always known I wanted to write, and when the opportunity to start working with a local magazine came up, I jumped at the chance. Things snowballed from there really, since I used that experience to advertise myself as a freelancer. I love the flexibility and variety that it offers, not to mention the comfort and convenience of working from home.
Balancing things with reading and blogging comes fairly naturally, in that they’re both things I love to do. I think when you’re genuinely interested in something, you simply find the time. Generally, I write during the day, and then read books and write blog posts at night. Catching up with other people’s blogs is something I also love, and I’ll typically do it throughout the day when I’m taking a break or have some time to kill.
What got you into blogging, and why did you choose to make a book blog?
I’ve always loved reading, but few people in my ‘real’ life share my passion, so I started a blog to be able to chat to likeminded people about all things bookish.
What do you love the most about blogging?
The best thing about blogging is definitely the friendships I’ve made. There are so many wonderful people in the bookish community, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them; some of whom I now speak to more than most of my ‘real life’ friends. The other highlight is constantly picking up exciting new book recommendations, though my bank account may disagree!
What do you dislike about it?
Probably the pressure that can start to affect some readers. There’s always someone reading more or better than everyone else, and it’s sad to see people getting stressed out over something they love, simply because they’re comparing themselves to others. There is no right or wrong way to read, and we should all simply do what works for us.
What do you think is the most unique feature you have on your blog that you’re most proud of?
I love the theatre, and last year I started reviewing all the shows I go to see, which I guess is a little rare for a predominantly bookish blog. I also have a few other ongoing series that I enjoy writing posts for, like my book to film comparison posts; my recommendation posts which focus on a particular genre or theme; spotlights on specific authors, illustrators, publishers, editions, etc.; and a series in which I highlight great women in fiction.
War Horse is the most recent show I went to see and it quickly became one of my favourite theatre experiences. It was powerful, captivating, and so beautifully put together.
I really like your great women in fiction section. Any women authors you’d like to highly recommend to us?
I always seem to find myself gravitating more towards female authors. Though not necessarily deliberate, I’m more than okay with that fact! A couple of favourites with the broadest appeal would probably be Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie. If you like things a little darker and stranger, I’d recommend authors like Kirsty Logan and Alice Thompson.
Some of my favourite posts by Callum:
- Book to Film | Bird Box
- Reading Year in Review and 2019 Goals
- Let’s Recommend | YA for Adult Readers
What do you think your blog will be like in 5 years time?
It may sound unambitious, but I can’t imagine there will have been any drastic changes. Here’s hoping I’ll still be prattling away about books.
How often do you write your posts or go blog-hopping? Do you schedule your posts? How much time do you spend writing up your posts?
I don’t have a strict posting schedule. I’d be annoyed if I didn’t post at least once a week, and am happy if I can post two or three times. I schedule some posts, if I want them to go up on a particular day (like a monthly wrap up), or if I know I’m going to be busy or away from home. But some posts will go live as soon as I write them – it all depends really!
As for how long I spend on each post, it can also vary hugely. My wrap ups are pretty long, so they can take ages, and I’ll often write them periodically throughout the month, adding to them as I finish each book. Blogging is something I do for fun, so I try to just go with the flow and not put too much pressure on myself.
Any blogging tips for newbie bloggers?
This might sound obvious, but it’s crucial that you blog about the things you genuinely care about. Not only can your passion for something really shine through your words, which will hopefully encourage readers to stick around, but it’s the only way for your blog to have any kind of longevity. If you chose to blog about what you thought was ‘popular’ instead, you’d soon run out of steam and lose interest.
It’s also worth taking the time to actually read, like, and comment on other blogs. Obviously, we all lead busy lives, and you’re never going to keep up with everyone all the time, but interaction and communication are keys parts of blogging. The best way to feel like part of the community is to get involved in it directly.
Most of all, just have fun, and don’t take it all too seriously! For most people, it’s only ever going to be a hobby, so what’s the point if you aren’t enjoying it?
Any recent favourite reads?
I just read The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, and found it both an exciting, evocative read, and an unsettlingly prescient allegory about intolerance and othering that feels more relevant today than ever before. It’s the second Wyndham novel I’ve read and loved, so he seems well on his way to becoming one of my favourite authors.
The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni is another of my favourites. It’s a stunning look at the savage power of the natural world, and the use of storytelling as a means to cope with trauma. It was my favourite read of last year.
How do you decide what to read next? What is your reading habit?
I do the vast majority of my reading at night (insomnia has it perks, it seems), but I do love whiling away a long train journey with a good book too – and living in the countryside, I do have to sit through a few of those.
Set TBRs don’t seem to work for me, so I’m very much a mood reader. I’ll usually have a rough idea of a few books I’d like to get to sooner rather than later, but I try to avoid forcing myself to pick something up, and just reach for what I fancy in the moment. I’ve found it’s the best way to avoid a dreaded reading slump!
That was all from me and Callum. I had a great time interviewing him with his unique insight, and if you haven’t checked out his blog yet you definitely should, because it’s an amazing high quality blog over there! Anyways, thank you so much Callum for letting me spotlight you for this post!
Until next time, Ayunda