I Am Not a Target Market: Questions for Eric Rountree

Yesterday I announced a new mini-series that will investigate if and how men read today. First to the plate is Mr. Eric Rountree. Enjoy.

B: Who are you?

Well, I'm Eric Rountree (aka Faltarego), and I work in a bookstore here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I'm 49 years old and I love writing. Current obsession is my NaNoWriMo novel from November, which I am currently editing. I blog, I tweet, I play guitar and I love good nachos.

B: What literary genre do you usually prefer?

I'm a big science fiction and fantasy fan, but I haven't read as much of those genres as I think I have. I'm currently spreading my wings and investigating "mainstream" fiction.

B: Why did you decide to give The Time Traveler's Wife a whirl? I'm told that you enjoyed the experience - given that this novel has been largely marketed towards a female audience, why did it appeal to you?

I was working at Chapters here in Halifax when the book came out, and when I first noticed it, I was intrigued by the title, as I'm a big fan of time-travel stories. I was mildly surprised that the book wasn't in the science fiction section, and I had no idea at the time that the book was considered "women's fiction." It quickly became a favorite, and still stands to this day as one my three favorite books of all time.

B: Can you name any other books that you've enjoyed that were likely not marketed to yourself?

I recently read The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (also in my top three favorites now), and I suspect that, despite having been written by a man, it's likely considered "women's fiction." No matter. I loved it. I was also absolutely enchanted by the Harry Potter series and though I'm not much of a mystery buff, I very much enjoyed Déja Dead by Kathy Reichs and Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. I'm unlikely to read anything by Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steel or Sophie Kinsella, however.

B: Do you feel any affiliation with so-called "guy lit" ex. Nick Hornby, Douglas Coupland, Jonathan Tropper, Thomas Pynchon etc.

I found Microserfs by Coupland a thoroughly entertaining read, and I'd like to read more of his stuff. As for Hornby, I've only seen a couple of the movies adapted from his books, but I may read something of his at some point. But as a rule I don't seek out books written "by guys for guys."

B: The argument has been made that fiction is now a largely female domain. Do you agree with this and if so, is it natural or do you think it's exclusionary?

There are indeed a lot of female writers out there, but I don't think that "female writer"necessarily means "female reader." To generalize grossly, I think more women than men read novels (based on my own observations from behind the counter), but I don't think that's a new phenomenon, and I don't believe the numbers are that far out of whack.

We do get a lot of men coming through our cash. Ignoring for a moment the romance genre, which by its very nature skews the statistics heavily, I think that "chick lit" (Kinsella, Ahern, Steel, Kelly, O'Flanagan, etc.) is nicely balanced by "guy lit" (Clancy, Griffin, Grisham, Flynn, Child, etc.)

It's interesting to note that two of my favorite writers, Stephen King and Jasper Fforde, seem to appeal to both sexes. I've certainly met a lot of female King fans, and Jasper Fforde, while not everyone's cup of tea, writes from a female perspective in his Tuesday Next series. Dan Brown seems to have transcended the gender barrier as well, even though many might lump him in with Clive Cussler and James Rollins.

No, I certainly don't think that fiction is a female domain.

Thanks Eric! I've been meaning to read The Gargoyle. Next up is Mike Astbury - videographer, Torontonian and plaid enthusiast. Look for his Q and A next Monday.


Asheyna said...

Mr. Eric Roundtree... /snicker.

Always love reading my dear faltarego's opinion, especially on literature.

I hate the concept that women should read women's books and men should read men's. I far prefer Clancy and Cussler to Steele and Kenyon. Although Kenyon has her moments for me hehe.

Personally I'm on pins and needles waiting for Eric's book. Been a fan of his for almost a year and I'm hoping maybe he'll give me a lil sneak peek ;)

Faltarego said...

Thanks, Bronwyn, for including me in this project. I quite enjoyed participating.

And thanks, Asheyna, for you ever-encouraging comments. I think maybe once I'm through the third draft of my novel, I'll get some folks (like yerself) to have a glance.

Jackie said...

Thanks for the great interview. I'll be keeping an eye out for Eric's book. I love CanCon when it comes to great writing (and music and movies).

I thought something similar about Time Traveller's Wife, like it would be something HG Wells would have be proud of...guess I was wrong, lol.

I'm not thrilled with the distinction of "guy lit" or "chick lit" either. There are many strong writers out there than can appeal to both audiences. It's a great way, also, to gain perspective into how the "other side" thinks, so to speak. What I read depends more on my mood than my gender.

Jen said...

What a great interview! What a fantastic view as well!

Just found your blog and I love it!!

B.Kienapple said...

Eric - let us know about the novel!
Jackie - I am ashamed to say I have never read HG Wells. This must be remedied. As for guy lit vs. women's lit, I think a distinction has to be made sometimes for marketing purposes but not as deeply as occurs now. The two are so divided, with women's lit having its own giant compound and guy's lit a very inferior one.
Jen - thanks for reading! So glad you like!


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