Sandra: Tell us about Heliotrope. When was it launched,
and what's its focus?
Brian: Heliotrope is the next step in an elaborate Rube
Goldberg-esque plan to take over the world. But since I'm
merely a pawn my employment contract prohibits me from cackling
The first issue of Heliotrope came out last year then there
were some technical hurdles to jump and the second issue
came out in May. The goal will be three to four issues a
Our focus is to get some great stories and articles out
Sandra: Heliotrope is run in conjunction with Fantasy Bookspot,
which does interviews and reviews and has an active forum.
How did you first get involved?
Brian: You’re right, there are a couple of sides to
Fantasy Book Spot. I think that its one of our strengths.
I started out on the message boards because the quality
of the book discussions drew me in. Then I answered a post
for reviewers, which was good because I read and appreciated
mystery/crime fiction which filled a void for the site.
Sandra: For you as a reviewer and interview, what do you
see as the advantages of the active forum at Fantasy Bookspot?
Brian: I like to think of the review, interview or article
as a starting point. I want the real discussion to take
place on the forum, for people to read the initial piece
then react and interact. Whether you agree, disagree, just
want to jump in, chime in or whatever we want to hear from
We've got a lot of great people over at FBS that welcome
the opportunity to discuss books.
This past March we had a huge event called the Fantasy Book
Spot Best of Tournament. We had two separate tournaments,
one for the year 2006 that had 64 contestants and one for
all time, which had 32 contestants. The books were pitted
against one another in a single elimination tournament bracket
to determine the best.
It was a massive, multi-day event where we debated the hell
out of the books. To say we kicked up some dust would be
an understatement. Over the course of two weeks we had over
950 posts on books alone from fans who duked it out until
their knuckles were bloody.
Since this is going to be an annual event I want to start
a tournament for the mystery genre at some point. But first
I need people to come visit.
We also recently unveiled a new chat forum. We hope to be
able to host live author chats in the future as well as
have live debates.
Sandra: I understand you're working on expanding the mystery
content of Heliotrope. What are you doing to attract more
Brian: I've rented out advertising space on the pasties
and g-strings on the girls at Sensations dance club in Littlestown,
PA. I think that should do it.
I think a better way of putting it is to say including it.
We have always accepted submissions from all different types
of genres but previously there hadn't been a mechanism in
place to grab on to the mystery/crime fiction stories.
Jay Tomio, the editor, has an unhealthy obsession with Poirot.
Which is fine, I mean David Suchet is as good looking a
man as I've ever seen but Jay's not very active in the mystery
genre. So hopefully I can help gain exposure for Heliotrope
in other markets. Because the bottom line is that we want
Sandra: What kind of material does Heliotrope look for?
Brian: That's probably the easiest question to answer. Great
Fiction. Great Articles. Great Excerpts
Sandra: You're a mystery genre enthusiast and an interviewer
and reviewer. What prompted you to get involved in reviewing
Brian: More so then simply a genre enthusiast I've been
a book enthusiast for 20+ years. I always tell people that
I like both kinds of books: Fiction and Non Fiction. But
more importantly I love talking books.
My mom is an avid reader and she is always asking me about
the books that I'm reading even though we have very different
tastes. She always wants to know why I liked or didn't like
I think reviewing is just a natural extension of those conversations.
Did I like the book and Why.
Plus I have some off the wall theories that I love debating
about. For example my theory that Jack Taylor is really
dead and that his story is being told from beyond the grave.
My first interview actually came about because of a series
of reviews that I wrote on the books of Patrick O'Leary.
O'Leary is a writer who published three brilliant novels
and one short story collection in three different genres
about 10 years ago. He never really achieved any level of
fame and remains to this day an obscure writer.
After that flurry of publication activity he kind of disappeared.
I was able to track him down and get a current e-mail address
so I used the opportunity to interview him.
Since then I've done interviews with Jason Starr, Ken Bruen,
Robert Ward and Duane Swierczynski.
We've got some other interviews planned for the new year
Sandra: What's coming up next for Heliotrope?
Brian: For Issue #3 we've got an excerpt that a certain
Galweigan was kind enough to let us use and I've got some
ideas for features in future issues that I think could be
Not to mention publishing all those great mystery/crime
fiction stories that people haven't submitted yet because
they didn't know about us.
Sandra: Where can readers and writers go for more information
about Heliotrope and Fantasy Bookspot?
Brian: All of the information for Heliotrope can
be found at www.heliotropemag.com
Come visit Fantasy Book Spot at www.fantasybookspot.com.
Grab a soapbox, throw out the conversational equivalent
of a hand grenade and let the fun begin.
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Sandra Ruttan’s debut suspense novel, Suspicious Circumstances,
was released in January, 2007. For more information about Sandra visit
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