Allirea’s Realm, coffee and conversation with BigAl

Allirea's Realm

We setup camp in the back galley, passed around the jars of olives, mixed our own drinks, and generally made a party of it. People in coach avoided using the restrooms. But we had a heck of a party.

BigAl – 9 December 2014

After numerous interviews with all of the fantastic authors, I decided a change of pace would be fun.  Big Al, from Big Al’s Books and Pals, quickly volunteered (hey, it’s my column and I can embellish all I want).  His interview was………well, you decide.  Happy reading.

Besides administering The IndieView website, BigAl is top dog at his review site, BigAl’s Books and Pals, and a lowly minion at Indies Unlimited. When not doing something for one of those websites, he can be found working his day job, outfitted in his fashionable “work pajamas,” hanging out with his grandkids, or trying to resist wasting any more time pontificating on Facebook (and failing).  Any leftover time is reserved for naps.

What beverage gets you going in the morning?  Yes, I made sure I put “beverage” in there, we need to keep this interview “G” rated, and *I* know how you are!

Diet Mountain Dew. If none is available (and as anyone who has ever been around me knows, I almost always make sure some is) then any caffeine drink will do. Caffeine consumption continues until just before I fall into bed.

What makes you an expert on book reviewing?  Don’t be modest, because you are.

I’m not. No, I’m really not. But any expertise I have is a combination of three life experiences.

First, is that I’m a reader. I’ve always read a lot. In second grade I won a contest for reading the most books in the class. If you read more than a hundred books a year for ******ty some odd years, that’s a lot of books. You figure out what works and doesn’t (at least for you) and you form opinions.

Second, is that before I reviewed books, I reviewed music, initially for a genre specific website and eventually for an arts and entertainment magazine in a big Midwestern city. I’m not a musician (unless you count the piano lessons I quit when I was 8 or 9), but I listen to a lot. My attitude was that you didn’t have to know whether the music had technical imperfections or not, only whether you liked it and why or why not. My attitude about books is and was the same. However, I think whatever skills or talents I might have would be more productive trying to write a book than to record a song.

Third, (finally) is actually doing it. I’ve learned a lot, some of it the hard way, since I started.

What “Indie” book (only one) has stuck with you and made the biggest impression?

Speaking of learning, how stupid do you think I am? Are you trying to get me killed (figuratively, of course) by all the authors I might list? I’d be on the hit list of every single indie author I’ve ever read (except for one).


FINE, then at least list an Indie book that has made a difference in your life, and why.

FINE? You’re going to make me pay for not answering? Okay, if I have to answer I’ll say Indiana Jones. They called him Indy, right? (Was that even a book? I’m sure they must have hired someone to write a novel from the screenplay.)

What do you wear when you read?

I wear English Leather. Or I wear nothing at all.

Seriously, I wear whatever I’d be wearing if I wasn’t reading. More often than not, those are my work pajamas.

What were your childhood dreams?

I don’t remember. I’ve killed a lot of brain cells since then. By child do you mean 2, 8, my teens, or my twenties? Maybe you mean right now.

Good Grief!  You are going to make me crazy…… about when you were 10.

Don’t you mean crazier?

I’m sure whatever my dreams were then, they changed a lot, just in the following 2 or 3 years. I’d have been in grade 5 then, I think. I remember my school teacher was Miss McDermott. She was nice and fairly young (I think it was her first year of teaching). She got married and became Mrs. Paris in the middle of the year. (The title Ms hadn’t caught on yet. It was a lot of years ago, you know.) The principal (Miss Bybee) was old. Ancient even. (In my memory she was about 97 years old.) She was also short. I think I might have been as tall as she was. This was my second year at the school after moving from another state the year before. Many of the kids who went to the school were the second (maybe some third or fourth) generation to go to the school. Miss Bybee had taught the parents of some of my classmates in first grade. I think she might have taught some of their grandparents and great grandparents, too. There. I’ve told you everything I remember from that year. No dreams though.

What were you like as a child? (just so you know, I am getting a pretty good idea from your answers so far)

Thought I knew more than I did (although I did know a lot). A voracious reader. A bit of a rebel. Book smart, people dumb. Pretty much the same as today.

What do you do for leisure or entertainment, besides reading and reviewing?

That’s about it. 🙂

Travel (usually to music festivals, but also to hang out with friends from around the country), give the grandkids a hard time, and nap. You can never have too many naps. (That’s one thing I’ve learned as an adult that I didn’t get as a kid.)

How would your best friends describe you, in one word?

Short. (Did I get it right?)

YUP, I think you nailed it!

How would you describe yourself, in one word?

Short. My friends are right.

Tell me the ONE character in ANY book that is your favorite, and why?

See the question about my favorite indie book. This is just a subtle way to drag that answer out of me, right? Short doesn’t mean stupid.

What would be your best achievement to date?

Good question. Are you talking about having to do with the websites or in life or in Canasta tournaments or some area I haven’t even thought of?

Exactly what I asked, best achievement!!  *sheesh*

Well, I’ve never won a Canasta tournament. I don’t think I’ve ever played in one. So it isn’t that. Poker tournaments are another story. I’ve won a ton of those. But I’m not sure if that’s what you’re going for. My ex-wife gets the credit for my daughter, can I take credit for the grandkids?

What’s your favorite swear word?

I can’t say because the owner of this website is a stick-in-the-mud. A little prudish. But if I did say, it would start with an eff.

Let’s hope the owner doesn’t read this interview, or you may no longer be employed!

Have you ever been banned from a public place?

Does getting kicked out of the first class cabin for most of a flight from Cincinnati to Salt Lake count?

Of course it counts, now tell us the REST of the story.

It’s not that good a story. I’d gone on a business trip to Cleveland with a team of 8 or 9 people for meetings with a big client. Coming back, our flight from Cleveland to Cincinnati was delayed, which meant we were going to miss our connecting flight and the airline put us on a later flight. Two or three of us in the group had gotten upgraded to first class for the first leg and I was one. As soon as I sat down the flight attendant brought me a glass of Baileys. (I imagine you know where this is going already.) She seemed to have a goal of seeing how inebriated she could get me on this short flight (about 45 minutes, I think).

On the connecting flight to Salt Lake (about two and a half hours) another of our group joined us in first class. As soon as we were in the air and it was okay to move around the cabin, one more of our group wandered up from coach and stood in the aisle talking to us. Then another joined her. One of the flight attendants came over and told us some sob story. Apparently this was an extra flight they’d added because of a bunch of flight delays in the east with a lot of people missing their original connection. That explained why the rest of the people in the cabin looked like they were trying to nap. Anyway, he suggested that if we had to socialize, that we take it to the back of the plane. So we did.

On the way back we grabbed the rest of our crew with the exception of one guy (a college student who had a final in nuclear physics the next day – what a nerd). We setup camp in the back galley, passed around the jars of olives, mixed our own drinks, and generally made a party of it. People in coach avoided using the restrooms. But we had a heck of a party. (And no way am I telling you what happened after I got to Salt Lake.)

Have you ever danced in the rain?

Are you crazy?

Do you watch Reality TV?  If yes, which one is your favorite?

No. A better question might be, “do you watch TV.” The answer to that would be I once did a lot, but rarely do anymore. Coincidentally, that change in my viewing habits came about the same time that reality TV started to become a thing. (Or maybe it isn’t coincidence.)

What is the best way to your heart?

Who wants to know?

Heeyyyyy, I ‘m the interviewer here! 

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done for someone?

Agreeing to this interview.

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Caution. Do not overfill with Baileys.

When was the last time you got drunk and did something stupid?

Are you sure you want me to tell this story? Can you promise your husband won’t read this interview?

You are such a great blogger, would you like to ever write a book?

Now you’re making me blush. Haven’t you already agreed to beta read my book? Why do I answer questions with questions? Didn’t my Mom tell me not to do that? Am I incapable of learning such a simple lesson? This experience is strange. I’m much more accustomed to being the one asking the questions.

One part of me says, “why would I want to do that?” (I was trying to be serious, but a question just slipped out. Sorry about that.) I’d be exposing myself to the risk of rejection. All those book bloggers saying “this sucks.” Readers on Amazon saying, “I wish I could give this zero stars, but Amazon makes me give it at least one.” Or maybe I’ve already started it. Yeah, that’s the answer. Or at least the real answer is somewhere in that range.

What genre?

If I were to ever write a book, it would almost certainly be non-fiction of some kind. However, just this week an indie author suggested we co-write a novel. No, she wasn’t serious. I don’t think. Do you think I should send her that first chapter, just in case? There I go again, more questions. Maybe I should move on.

What makes you cry?

These questions.

Honestly, death. Scenes in books and movies will sometimes bring a tear to my eye, if that counts, but I don’t’ think it does.

As a blogger and interviewer, are covers for books important?  Why or why not?

Only if you want to sell as many copies as you can. In most cases, a cover is the first thing a potential reader sees. If your cover doesn’t tell them “this is the kind of book I like to read,” odds are they won’t read the blurb or glance at the first few pages to see if the story appeals in other ways. A good cover won’t make up for a bad book, but a bad cover (or a good cover that is wrong for the book) on a great book will divert many readers elsewhere before they discover it’s the perfect book for them.

My situation is different than the typical reader in that I rarely see the cover of the books I read to review until after I’ve read them. Many times I’ll have read a book that I liked, written the review, and when I retrieve the cover photo for the review post realize I’d never have read the book if I’d seen the cover first.

How many Al’s Pals do you have on staff?

This might change, either up or down, by the time this interview runs. As of this very second I count 9. One of them is my 11 year-old granddaughter, who periodically collaborates with me reviewing kid’s books. Another doesn’t write reviews (although she reads more books than any of the rest of us), but she proofreads all of my reviews to (hopefully) knock down the number of stupid errors that sneak through. If I counted right, we also have 7 pals emeritus. (I just made that term up.) These are pals who wrote at least a few reviews and have since stopped. We’re always looking for people who would like to join us. Why haven’t you volunteered yet? Do I need to use more of a hard sell?

If you could go back in time to cIhange one thing what would it be?

I’d go back to the time when you were typing these questions, and make you type change instead of cIhange.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I should avoid politics answering this one, right? How about typos? Lack of proofreading in a book. People who can’t follow instructions. *Al leaves to yell at a kid to get off his lawn* Sorry, I’m back. I’m sure I could list them all day, if you really wanted me to.

Are you a good judge of character?

OMFSM. You’re asking me this to help you figure out if I’m gullible enough for you to run your little scam on me, aren’t you? I’ve figured you out, Missy. So the answer is obviously, yes, I am. (I think we all improve at this over time. Or at least we should.)

Are you good at keeping secrets?

I promised I wouldn’t tell and if your husband found out it had to be because of your insatiable need for confession.

I think for the first time I am glad this interview is over.  I feel like *I* was the one getting interviewed.  I have no idea how you guys put up with my questions, but I am so very glad you do.  Thanks, Al, it was a blast, and you are one entertaining, but short, guy.

Although he denies being a writer or an author, somehow BigAl managed to get his name listed as a coauthor on two books, this one (available on Amazon US and Amazon UK) and this other one (US or UK).

28 responses to “Allirea’s Realm, coffee and conversation with BigAl

  1. Ha! That was a lot of fun, although I think the interviewer went a bit soft on you, Al.

    • Yeah, Pete. The interview tries to pretend she’s a tough sailor, but she’s actually a softy at heart. 🙂

  2. This is fabulous. You are now my role model for interviews. 😀

  3. Al, does that mean we’re going to write that book? In our pajamas? I have a bottle of Bailey’s…
    Fun interview.

  4. I can’t believe you had seats in first class, and went to party in *coach*.

    Great interview!

  5. Al, thanks for privately letting me know that I am your favorite author. :3

  6. I think a therapist may be in order before they have to take you away in a straight jacket. Dual personalities are frowned upon , you know. And these things don’t get better on their own. 😉

  7. What a GREAT interview! I laughed my way through the whole thing. Allirea, you did a fine job. BigAl, you would never find yourself on my Hit List. Nevah! *still grinning* What an entertaining interview!

    Donna Fasano
    Author of An Almost Perfect Christmas
    Join my Street Team: Prima Donnas

  8. Today was one of those days I needed some chuckles, and by God, BigAl–along with his feisty reviewer!–served up barrels full. What a fun person you are, Al. I’m inviting you to the next party I have at my house…and I’ll be sure to have plenty of Bailey’s on hand!

  9. OMG! Allirea, what have you done? I had no idea my reviewer icon sucked down Baileys, made a federal pest of himself on airlines , and wears English Leather or nothing. All this time I thought he was enough of a gentleman to tuck it in sock. And to think I insist every author in eNovel Authors at Work send a book to Big Al Short for a review or I don’t let them into the group. Somebody needs to take that guy by the hand and lead him to the nearest institution. Wear gloves.
    Author of No Perfect Destiny

  10. That was a fun interview. Loved the visual of a naked, short man drinking/ spilling Baileys. 😀

  11. I kind of like knowing my reviewer is just a normal guy. Kind of like ripping off the Lone Ranger’s mask… Just one confusion. You say you’re short. Do you mean in stature? Tempered? Broke? A little clarity… 🙂
    Julie Frayn

  12. What fun! And what a surprise.
    Opening a holiday gift and finding THE Big Al and his delightful sense of humor. Thank you, both!

  13. Big Al, there’s not one word of this interview that I didn’t love. Oh and BTW, my neighbor and I have a Tub ‘n Tea every Sunday morning. ( Hey! What’s life without its little rituals??)
    My hot tub and tea, her Bailey’s. 9:30 till noon.
    Tea mugs continuously filled until bladders are too.
    As a confirmed Bailey’s drinker, you are cordially invited. Sometimes we even talk about interesting things, but nothing, so far, as amusing as this interview. Cheers!