Happy blog birthday to Canadian music therapist, writer and book reviewer Hilary. Her book blogger website, Songs Wrote My Story, turns two years old this Friday. To celebrate the milestone, Hàlön Chronicles has pulled together a spotlight interview of Hilary and some of her Top 5 favorite bookish things.
Your site is called ‘a little corner in the book blogging world where songs and stories come together.’ For folks who aren’t familiar with your work, will you share with us what this means?
I work as a music therapist during the day, and I’ve seen so many times how music can be used to tell people’s stories, even when they can no longer tell them on their own. So I’ve come to the point where music and stories go hand in hand for me.
In terms of the blog, when I was getting it started, I knew that there was no way that I could have a blog and not have music involved, and that I didn’t just want to talk about the stories found in books. Generally the posts about books and the posts about music are separate things, but I’ll sometimes have songs that go with books or book playlists or something like that.
It is basically a fancy way to say that I like talking about both things.
It’s your book blog birthday. Will you share with us how you got started, and your Top 5 book blogging moments over the last few years?
I got started out of boredom, actually. I’d only discovered a few months earlier than there was an online book community (it somehow never occurred to me, however that worked in my brain), and had been reading some blogs for a while. I’d ended up taking a long weekend off work, and no one else was around to entertain me, so I made one to occupy myself for the few days. And two years later, here we are.
In terms of top five moments…
- The first ever review request I received. It was from Jonathan Ballagh, and his book was amazing.
- When I hit 100 followers, because I couldn’t believe that that many people wanted to hear what I had to say about books.
- The first time I was ever approved for a request from a publisher. It was a Sarah Dessen book, which I started reading when I was twelve and always enjoyed, so it was fantastic to get to read it ahead of release, even if I’m way too old for those books these days (nostalgia is fun though).
- I discovered how to borrow audiobooks through blogging. And that has been an absolute game changer for driving for work.
- This is a bunch of moments rolled into one, but all of the books I would have never heard of or looked twice at otherwise if not for seeing them on other people’s blogs or from recommendations from other bloggers.
And since we’re on Top 5s, let’s share with everyone some of the Top 5s from the books you’ve read.
Top 5 books of all time.
In no particular order, because I can’t do that…
- My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologizes by Frederik Backman
- A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
- The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
- Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
- The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Top 5 friendships.
- Dill, Travis, and Lydia by The Serpent King
- The four girls in Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares
- Susie and Holly from The Lovely Bones
- The whole staff of the restaurant in Pen & Xander
- Annabeth, Percy, and Grover from Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
Top 5 music-related books.
- Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (this is the only book with a music therapist as a character, so it has to make the list)
- This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
- Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
- This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin
- Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Top 5 monsters or villains (because I have an unhealthy love of villains).
- The Forest in Uprooted by Naomi Novik
- Scythe Goddard from Scythe by Neal Shusterman
- The creepy fairy things in The Call by Paedar O’Guilin
- The Monster from A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (because the monster can be important too)
- The things that make people crazy in Bird Box
I like the villains that don’t fall into the typical category of villains, obviously…
Top 5 weirdest or creepiest books.
- A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (I am still haunted by the ending, and I read it months ago)
- Night Film by Marisha Pessl
- You by Caroline Kepnes
- Bird Box by Josh Malerman
- The Call by Paedar O’Guilin
Top 5 common tropes you love seeing.
- Special Snowflakes – I’ll get hell for this one, but if someone’s going to lead the revolution, I definitely don’t want to be following Average Joe into the battle. I was someone with the skills for it. Plus, it’s more fun than reading about Average Joe (sorry Average Joe).
- Strong, Smart Female Protagonists – Though I hate the lack of variety and the tendency towards carbon copies for these characters, we always need more strong, smart females in books.
- Teenagers having to save the world – I’d trust a teenager more often than I’d trust an adult.
- When the characters randomly find out that they’re actually royalty – Because royalty stories are totally a guilty pleasure.
- Post-Apocalyptic Stories – I’m a bit fussy when it comes to these, but I think they’re fun and fascinating generally.
Let’s talk about your books. Are you writing anything these days?
For a change, the answer to this question is actually yes, though still very early in the plotting and planning stages (because work is mean and demands a lot of my free time in addition to my work time – lately I’ve mostly been writing when I can’t sleep).
I’ve actually been playing around with two ideas. One is low fantasy sort of story that was inspired by driving around (and desperately wishing I lived somewhere else) in a blizzard and listening to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere on audiobook. The basic concept is a world within our world where you can escape day to day life, but it’s not quite as fantastic as it all seems. I’m still working out a lot of the details.
The second came out of a joke I made to my partner one day that the United States was actually just the craziest reality show ever put out and not actually a real place. It lead to the idea of something like that happening, and the idea that satirical news articles and television reports done well could convince people that something exists, even with no proof. This idea is a bit more developed than my previous one, but requires actual research into journalism and psychology, so far more daunting of a task.
Have you hidden any secrets or Easter eggs in your blog intended for close friends and family to find?
No, actually. A few friends know about my blog and have looked at it, but most of them just follow my book reviews on Goodreads and don’t visit the blog too often. Even if they did, though, there’s nothing on there that would surprise them, other than the odd mention here or there.
If someone wants to reach out to you for a book review, where can they find your guidelines for this?
You can find my review policy here. It’s pretty standard as far as review policies go, the genres probably being the important thing to check out of everything.
Hilary is a Canadian music therapist and book blogger. She runs the Songs Wrote My Story book reviews blog, and plays the flute, guitar, ukulele, piano, voice, djembe, darbuka, trumpet, and a mean egg shaker. When she’s not prowling through her book jungle, you can find her playing Dungeons & Dragons, post-by-post RPG, or rapping the French version of Baby Got Back. Okay, that last one might be a lie.
|Hilary is a Canadian music therapist and book blogger. She runs the Songs Wrote My Story book reviews blog, and plays the flute, guitar, ukulele, piano, voice, djembe, darbuka, trumpet, and a mean egg shaker. When she’s not prowling through her book jungle, you can find her playing Dungeons & Dragons, post-by-post RPG, or rapping the French version of Baby Got Back. Okay, that last one might be a lie.|