Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Interview with Nymeth of Things Mean Alot


For those of you not involved in the Book Bloggers Appreciation Week, part of the festivities included an opportunity to put your name in a hat to be matched up with another blogger with whom you trade interviews. You can imagine my excitement when I was assigned the task of interviewing Nymeth of Things Mean Alot. Is there any place you don't see this girl? I consider her to be one of the leaders in the book blogging community, and felt like I'd won a little lottery by getting her name. Head on over to her blog to see her interview of me!

Nymeth's real name is Ana, she is in her mid-twenties and lives in Portugal. She just recently finished her degree in English – she is a few years late, however in getting this degree. Her first major was psychology, but due to the organization of higher education in Portugal, she was forced to start from scratch when she changed majors. She currently works as a research assistant in linguistics, but only until the end of September – after that, the joyful world of unemployment awaits her. She's hoping to find work and save for a year, and then start library school. Wish her luck! Ana has three dogs, four cats and one boyfriend. Here were some thought-provoking questions I asked her, and her responses:


Sandy: To me, the most obvious question to ask first is about your blog title and name. I am sure you were thinking of something specific when you came up with “Things Mean A Lot” and “Nymeth”. Where did you get your inspiration?

Ana: My blog’s name comes from a song by the Red House Painters, who have been one of my favourite bands since I was fifteen. But more than the song itself, what inspired me was a line from a book. The band’s frontman and main songwriter, Mark Kozelek, published a poetry book called "Nights of Passed Over", and in the introduction he wrote:

“While checking back through the lyrics for a final look, a few lines in particular caught my attention, both from the song "Things Mean a Lot". One is, "things mean a lot at the time, don't mean nothing later," and the other, "scares me how you get older, how we forget about each other." I was feeling bitter when I wrote the song, but it's clear that everything has its place and meaning, and that no one is forgotten.”

I should probably add that I originally gave this title to my LJ (livejournal) blog, which I started when I was 19. When I first moved to blogger I didn’t know I was going to start a book blog, but I’ll save that story for question number two. I always worried that “things mean a lot” was a silly title for a book blog, but I got a BBAW nomination for Best Name, so apparently someone doesn’t think so! Whoever you are, thank you for reassuring me.

As for “Nymeth”, it was the name of a character in a sad attempt at a fantasy novel I wrote when I was in my late teens, and it kind of stuck as an online nickname. I shall once again shield myself behind my tender age :P Seriously though, it has the advantage of being very easy to google, unlike my real name. I have both the most common female Portuguese name and the most common last name there is.

Sandy: I knew that answer would be interesting! I am going to have to look up that song! I noticed you’ve been blogging since 2004, which is a lifetime in blogland. You were out there paving the way for the rest of us
before we saw an explosion of bloggers come onto the scene in full force a few years ago. What caused you to start your own blog?

Ana: Actually, I started my book blog in early 2007, but the archives go back longer because I backdated all my “housekeeping” posts – yearly reading lists, indexes, my contact page, etc. In 2004, I was blogging in livejournal and I did write about books, but I never got involved in any of the communities and as a result I never made any friends.

But back to this blog – in March 2007 I came across the Once Upon a Time Challenge, hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, and I decided to use my blogger account to participate. Until then, I had used it only to comment on friends’ blogs. I didn’t know I was going to start blogging long term, but everyone was so friendly and welcoming that I felt right at home. All of a sudden I had a large group of people to discuss books with – it was a geek’s dream come true.

Sandy: Can you share with us your morning routine?

Ana: For the past few months I’ve been working from home, which has changed my routine considerably. I wake up at around 8 and immediately put the kettle on – I absolutely can’t function without my morning cup of coffee. I have breakfast, and then I check my e-mail, twitter and google reader for half an hour (which, if I’m not careful, can easily turn into a full hour). Then I unplug my Internet cable so I can get some work done. This is a very important step, without which not very much of anything is actually achieved.

Sandy: You've got much more discipline that I do! Besides reading and blogging, what are some of your other passions?

Ana: My biggest passion besides reading and blogging is music. I love music as much as I love books, though in a different way. I love discovering new bands, listening to old favourites, making mixed CDs to inflict on friends, and going to shows. What else…even though I’ve been neglecting them lately, I also love movies. And video games – they get a bad rap, but there are some real masterpieces out there. I find that whatever the medium I’m dealing with, I’m always very narrative-oriented. More than anything else, I pay attention to the story, and I love a good story no matter how it’s being told. Another thing I love is animals and nature. I love hiking and spotting wildlife. My boyfriend and I consider walking for miles in the middle of nowhere a perfect holiday – it’s a good thing we agree on that regard!











Sandy: My son would whole-heartedly agree that video games are masterpieces! He should be at a Van Gogh level by now! I’ve only just started following your blog, but was immediately blown away by the number of comments you receive. On a slow day, you probably see 20 comments, whereas I would consider this a very successful post! I saw one of your posts the other day that had nearly 60 comments! How many followers do you have? Any advice on how to grow blog readership to these phenomenal levels?

Ana: I actually don’t have as many followers (I had 46 when I last checked) or as much traffic as some other blogs, but the ones I do have are very chatty, I guess! And I love them for it, of course. This is a difficult question for me to answer because it all happened slowly. I don’t mean to say it’s bad to deliberately try to grow your readership or anything silly like that, but for me it all happened without me giving it too much thought.

Although I’ve been told this doesn’t really show on my blog, but I’m actually pretty shy and insecure. I’ve been known to read a blog for months without daring to comment because I get into my head that I’ll horrify the blogger with my stupidity (I know, I know, I sound like I’m in high school or something). I become convinced that they’re much too smart or sophisticated to waste their time with me. What I do, though, is push myself: I force myself out of my shell, even if it’s hard for me. So this is my advice: reach out, leave comments, make friends. Do it even if you’re scared. Remember that other people probably have the same insecurities as you do, and that there’s more to lose by never trying than by trying and being rejected.

Sandy: You are right, this does not translate through to your blog. You are outgoing and friendly, and the ultimate professional. That is excellent advice! OK, I like to always ask this one...you never know what the answer is going to be! Give us one tidbit about yourself that would surprise us!

Ana: This is by far the most difficult question! I’ve been staring at the screen for like five minutes, you know! But alright, I have something: I was a dog-earer for years. And in my teens, an underliner-of-favourite-passages-in-pen. I know, I know – I cringe to think of it now, but there’s no erasing the past.

Sandy: Ooooh! That is a good one! But you are forgiven! Now another tough one. What are your top five books? I’ll make it a little easier…give us the top five books you’ve read this year.

Ana: Thank you for making it easier! But it’s still hard, because this has been an excellent reading year so far. But I guess I’d choose "Tender Morsels" by Margo Lanagan, "Fingersmith" by Sarah Waters, "The Fox Woman" by Kij Johnson, "The Children’s Book" by A.S. Byatt, and "The Love We Share Without Knowing" by Christopher Barzak.

Sandy: I've not read any of those, but have had my eyeball on Fingersmith ever since I read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Everyone seems to love it! Ana, thank you so much for being my interview partner...it has been alot of fun! I will look forward to spending more time on your blog!

53 comments:

Melody said...

Great interview, Sandy!! I really enjoyed reading Nymeth's (Ana's) answers and now I've known her a lot better after reading this interview!

She's a great reviewer and her reviews are always so thoughtful and insightful. :)

farmlanebooks said...

Great interview! I found out so much about Nymeth. I love her reviews and she always seems to discover different books to everyone else and then make me want to read them!

I was interested to hear that she doesn't have many followers. I thought she had loads - I assumed that the quality of her reviews and the number of comments meant that she was one of the biggest book blogs in the world. I think the fact that such a large proportion of her followers comment shows how great she is - we are just going to have to work on spreading the word about her!

Alice Teh said...

Hey Sandy, thanks for featuring Ana! I've always wanted to know about her blog title and nickname and I'm so glad you asked those questions!

Hello, Ana!

And the best part is... I don't feel so bad now that I know she is (or used to be) a dog-earer and underliner! I'm one too and still are. That's why I can never lend my non-fiction books. They're full of my jotting and "treatments". Having said that, all my books look as good as new on the outside. :D

Meghan said...

I have always wondered about your blog name, Nymeth! I also was a dog-earer in my rather shameful teenage past. Luckily, I got over that, and bookmarks are beautiful things. =)

I'm also surprised you don't have that many followers, because both you and your blog are wonderful. At least those of us that are here express our feelings about that very noisily!

Sandy, great interview questions!

Nymeth said...

Sandy, being interviewed by you - and interviewing you - was a pleasure :D Thank you again! I'm finishing editing your interview as we speak and it will be up in a few minutes.

And thank you for the kind words, everyone :D (Alice, I confess to still doing some note taking sometimes...but it's all in pencil these days :P)

Paperback Reader said...

Great interview, Sandy! Nymeth/Ana is one of my favourite bloggers and it was wonderful to receive more of an insight into this "faceless" person that I only know online.

I have been meaning to comment on your blog for a while as we share many daily visits in blog-land (Simon and Jackie, namely). I feel that you are one of those fellow commuters who I recognise but never speak to! This interview has given me that opportunity. I added you to my Google Reader yesterday so this was lucky.

C. B. James said...

Lives in Portugal! We love Portugal! A wondeful place and very underrated vacation destination.

I enjoyed the interview very much. I've long wondered just how the number of followers one has translates into the number of visitors one gets each day. Regular commentors are a big plus.

I confess that I dog-ear as well and that I also have a draft of a fantasy novel I wrote in high school in a file drawer somewhere.

Beth F said...

Fabulous!! I have been reading Nymeth for ages, so I am pleased to have gotten to know her better.

Molly said...

GREAT interview and I love learning the identity behind the nom de plume :)

I am so impressed that she has the discipline to actually unplug her internet. I am not sure I could do that!

I also find it very interesting that she is an introvert in the real world, but an extrovert in the blogosphere. I am the exact same way and I think the element of anonymity of the internet frees me to be more outgoing.

Hazra said...

Great interview! Nymeth was one of the first people who commented on my blog, and hers was one of the first blogs I started subscribing to. This provides a lot of insight into someone I know only as a fantastic reader.

Hazra said...

Great interview! Nymeth was one of the first people who commented on my blog, and hers was one of the first blogs I started subscribing to. This provides a lot of insight into someone I know only as a fantastic reader.

DesLily said...

both interviews are great! I have long read Nymeths blog and I've visited yours before. (I know this because every time i see the white cat I wonder how you got a photo of MY cat! lol) We don't live all that far apart.. i recently moved down to Vero Beach, but lived some time ago, in Ft Pierce for 13 yrs.

you chose a good person to interview!!

bermudaonion said...

I knew Ana lives in Portugal but always thought maybe she is an expat since her English is so good (better than mine, for sure!). I was surprised to see she's not. I'm so impressed with Ana and her blog. Great interview!

Heather J. said...

Nymeth's is one of the blogs I've been reading since I started blogging - I love her!

This is my first visit to YOUR blog but I'll be back for sure.

Amanda said...

Wow, this is a wonderful interview! Even though I've gotten to know Ana a lot in the last 6 months or so, there was a lot new here to find out. You did an awesome job!

Iliana said...

Oh Nymeth... Dog-earing and underlining?! Well, we'll let it slide because you are just great! :)

I've been reading Nymeth's blog for a while now and she always has such wonderful reviews. Makes me add tons of books to my list. Great interview, Sandy!

melissa @ 1lbr said...

Wow, I learned a lot I didn't know about Nymeth! (Hello, Portugal?) Yeah for starting library school!!! It will be worth every penny!

Alyce said...

I enjoyed reading the stories behind the blog name and the name Nymeth. You guys did a great job with this interview!

ds said...

Yippee! Once again, two of my faves in tandem. Thanks for getting Nymeth to divulge the secret of her name and blog title, Sandy. This was an excellent review of an excellent blogger (I am amazed that she is so young; she is so knowledgeable and professional). Thank you both!

Alana's Bookshelves said...

Loved the interview - being new to the book blogging community it's nice to learn about other bloggers and their hobbies/passions.

Chris said...

Oh what a great great great interview Sandy!!! And I feel so stupid for not having subscribed to your blog for all this time *headdesk* I've been missing out!! I've fixed that though!

Serena said...

I really love the questions you ask, Sandy!

Nymeth is great and I love that she lives in Portugal. One of these years when I head over to visit family, I may have to visit her, though my Portuguese non-existent.

booktrash said...

That was a really interesting interview! I know it's predictable, but I most enjoyed the first question...

Debi said...

Ana! You dog-eared your books! I'm shocked! ;)

Such a fabulous interview, ladies! Actually both of your interviews were wonderful...you both asked such cool questions.

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

Great interview! It was great to catch a glimpse of Nymeth!

J.S. Peyton said...

What a wonderful interview! Nymeth is definitely one of my favorite bloggers. It's funny, because I was afraid to comment on her blog for exactly the same reasons she gives for being afraid to comment on other blogs. Lol. It just goes to show, you never know.

Amy said...

I bet you have more RSS subscribers than followers, Ana!

Great interview! I love you both, but you know that right?

Anna said...

What a wonderful interview! I love Nymeth's blog, and it was great getting to know her a bit more.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

The Bumbles said...

I like digging behind the blog to get the real scoop - you accomplished this nicely. Thanks for the intro. to a blog new to me.

Bart's Bookshelf said...

So cool, to get to know more about Ana, great interview! :)

GMR said...

Awesome interview! (Yes, I did say AWESOME...I happen to like the word) I understand completely about the shy part...ditto for me! I find that since there is a certain anonymity (thank you spellcheck!) to the blog world, it's easier to "come out of your shell". It is after all, your blog. Just be yourself!

***running off to check out your blog and read the blog interview for this one!***

ibeeeg said...

Loved reading this interview.

Love how Ana came up with her blog name and username. Very cool indeed.

Actually Ana, I am surprised that you don't have many followers. I follow your blog and love it. I guess I assumed that many other bloggers follow you as well. Your post are fabulous.

Loved reading about the dog-earer and underlining. I used to do the same. Now...because I so desperately want to underline and so desperately want to share my books with others...I write what I want to underline in a memo note on my phone. Geek I am.

Fun interview to read...Thanks Sandy!

Nymeth said...

Thank you so much for the kind words, everyone! I'm so glad you all enjoyed reading the interviews. Sandy asks the BEST questions! Also, I promise I have repented my evil bookish ways of old, but now that I blog I do take extensive notes on random bits of paper as I read :D

Also, like Amy said I have more subscribers than blogger followers, but still not as many as some of the most popular bloggers. Which is fine, really! I hope this comparison doesn't sound all wrong. I mean, I appreciate each and every one of them, but I have a bit of a hard time balancing the public nature of blogging with my illusion that this is a small group of friends I'm talking to...I guess this is my introverted and slightly neurotic personality shining through :P

Thanks again, Sandy! You're the best :D

Jeanne said...

I think Nymeth (I use the pseudonymn deliberately) has a gift for making readers feel like they're her friends. This was a really interesting interview, and I'm glad to have discovered your blog, Sandy.

Valerie said...

How did I not know Nymeth lives in Portugal! Very interesting interview, and I'm glad to have found your blog via Nymeth's interview with you.

sharazad said...

I am a recovering dog-earer, too. Both of these interviews were awesome- you are both such interesting people.

Gavin said...

Yippie! What a great interview. I bet Nymeth has more followers then she thinks, just not on blogger. Now I'm going to read her inteview of you!

Booklogged said...

You and Nymeth both did excellent jobs at asking the questions and answering them.

Sandy Nawrot said...

OK guys! BY FAR, this is the most comments I have ever received on a post. I will bow down to Nymeth's fame for this spectacle! I'd love to comment to each and every one of you. Every time I sat down today to do so, they would continue to roll in. I couldn't keep up. Anyway, you are all very kind. For the Nymeth fans, I hope you come back and visit me again sometime. This is almost a party!

J. Kaye said...

What a great interview! Love learning more about Ana. :)

Memory said...

I don't think I'd ever heard the origin of Ana's nickname before! Interesting stuff. I'm with her on the whole shyness in blogging thing, too. I always feel awkward jumping in and commenting on peoples' blogs, especially when I consider them particularly awesome. I've been trying really, really hard to overcome that; I figure that they probably like comments as much as I do and will be happy to see that someone replied to their post, even if that someone is me. :)

Elizabeth said...

Great interview! You asked the questions I always wonder about...=)

softdrink said...

Fabulous interview! I just love Nymeth's blog, even if her posts do sometimes intimidate me. :-) Especially since I know English isn't her first language.

Stephanie said...

Nymeth, it's been a long time since I've seen your picture. You really should display them more often, cause you are just the cutest thing!

Sandy, great interview. And a great blog. I'll be back to check it out again soon!

J.T. Oldfield said...

For all she comments, I just realized that clearly I know very little about Nymeth. Thanks for shedding some more light on one of my favorite blogges/commentators.

aileen said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Susan

http://dclottery.info

Andreea said...

Great interview! It's great to find out so much about Nymeth. I love to visit her blog.

Amy said...

This is a great interview, Sandy! I'm glad to get to know a little about Nymeth (Ana). I love that the name of her blog comes from a song and that she loves music as much as books. Smart women!Thank you!

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

Thanks for the great interview. I always wondered about her name too!

naida said...

I found you at Nymeths blog, wonderful blog Sandy! Great interviews ladies :O)
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

tanabata said...

Wonderful questions and answers! Ana is one of my favourite bloggers and it was great to learn a little more about her.

And the cat in your header looks a lot like one of ours. :)

Literary Feline said...

I enjoyed both of your interviews, Sandy and Nymeth. Like I said over at Nymeth's blog, I was so glad to see two of my favorite bloggers interviewing one another. :-)

I loved hearing the story behind your blog's name and your nickname, Ana. For a while my husband used one of his character's names too, which works for games because he plays female characters. Not so much for blogging. LOL

heidenkind said...

What a great interview! (Yes, I'm still catching up, sorry.) And I think Nymeth is a great name--much better than the name I gave the heroine in my first novel. ;)