Book Roast is one of the blogosphere’s latest and most entertaining additions. Never heard of them? We asked Chris and her roast-ready crew to introduce her unboxed concept to you.
Q: What, exactly, is Book Roast, and how did the concept evolve?
Chris Eldin: Ahhh…a trip down memory lane. Yet another good reason for a glass of wine. Thanks for that. Okay. The concept began on August 2, 2007, when two unsuspecting authors (Mary Cunningham and Elaine Alexander) agreed to participate in “Author’s Weekend” on my personal writing blog. It was fun, interactive, and off-beat. Plus, authors and their fans were encouraged to eat and drink until the fat lady sang. Nobody ever found the fat lady.
Mary’s and Elaine’s participation made it easier for me to approach other authors. Finding authors to poke fun at became much more fun than editing my manuscript. So I enlisted a team of like-minded individuals to take this concept to the next level. They happily agreed to cut back time with their manuscripts, jobs, and families. Without such teamwork and dedication, the grill wouldn’t be where it is today: smokin’ hot and ready to roast. Authors. Bring ’em on.
Q: What should people expect when they visit your site, and what’s the best way to leap into the fire?
Jason Evans: When folks visit Book Roast, the first thing that lights their fire is a cool take on a new book. We swoop down on the idiosyncrasies of our writers and their stories to stir up some good natured, party conversation with the ultimate purpose of interesting readers not only in the book currently grilled, but also the author as a person. The best way to leap into the fire is to contact Chris Eldin (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get a coveted place on the roasting queue.
Q: Ooh, prizes. What are they, and how do you divvy them out?
Phoenix: We expect our patrons to work for their prizes. No free lunch at Book Roast. That’s why we ask everyone to carefully read an excerpt from the book on the grill then answer 3 questions based on the excerpt. Only they’re not always questions. You may have to come up with a drink recipe for one of the characters or write a haiku about someone’s feet. Sometimes you have to guess the color of an article of clothing mentioned in the excerpt or guess how many of those items the author owns. Justification for answers is highly encouraged. Creativity and humor count. Then it’s up to the author to choose a winner (the Roast Masters know better than to jump into the middle of THAT fire), and the chosen one gets an autographed copy of the book. Reading everyone else’s entries, though, is nearly as delicious as winning.
Q: How do you select roastable authors? And what should an author whose work is picked expect from the Roast?
Shona Snowden: We find almost every author is roastable, although some do need more basting than others.
But seriously, the point of the Book Roast is to provide a varied menu, so you’ll find authors coming up from almost every genre, including biography, romance and children’s literature. Some writers are launching their first book, others are already popular writers, with extensive backlists. We don’t accept self-published books, porn or anything we judge to be offensive to a general audience, and we look at electronic books on a case-by-case basis.
What can an author expect? Well, after we’ve smeared them with spices, wrapped them in foil and skewered them on a fork…oh, sorry. We ask our authors to choose a short extract from their book, to which we add a general introduction and three questions for our readers to answer. The questions are light-hearted and intended to quell nerves and kick off conversation. We find that this breaks the ice and readers then ask more serious questions in the comments trail.
Q: Okay, it’s roast day. Take us through it. What happens?
Stephen Parrish: Roast day actually starts the night before, at about 10:00 p.m. This gives insomniacs, foreigners, and other riffraff an early shot at the contest. We post a short biography of the author and include a link to her book on Amazon; the purpose of the blog is, after all, to promote the author’s book. Then, as described above, we share an excerpt from the book, one the author has chosen herself, and three fun questions loosely based on the excerpt. The grill is then opened for business. Readers guess answers to the three questions in comments, and those answers deemed best by the author (or deemed most entertaining; we couldn’t make things more subjective if we tried) wins an autographed copy of the book. Comments are open to everyone, however, not just contest participants, and often the best part of the experience is chatting in a party-like atmosphere. BYOB. We shut down at 9:00 p.m. and the author selects a “winner.” An hour later . . . it all starts again!
I hear your collective stomach rumbling, dear readers, but all we have here at WU is chocolate. Though BR has finished their roast for the month (Elizabeth Arnold, Jeff Somers, Xujun Eberlein, Sandra Cormier and Nicola Marsh have been picked to the bone), Chris is hosting a “snack” until the next roast begins on August 23rd. So go on–tuck a napkin under your chin and click HERE. Thanks so much for stopping by, Chris, Jason, Phoenix, Shona and Stephen. Roast on!