August 7, 2015

Meet Some UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial) : Ethan Gregory

Please welcome my next guest in the Meet Some UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial) series. After getting to know Christina Marie (who will be featured September 4), I knew I had to find and hug her cohort, Ethan, at UtopYA. I’m so glad I did. He’s vivacious and a great hugger. Such a sweetie!

Thanks for hanging out with me on the blog today.

EG: Thanks so much for having me Mrs. Tia, it’s such an honor! It’s not often I get to be on this side of the table! 

You are the brain and heart behind One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads. I love the tagline: Just one guy: reading, reviewing, living the dream. What inspired you to start this blog?

EG: Oh man, it’s a bit of a long story, so I’ll try to condense it.

I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. Everything from the phone book to cereal boxes. If it had words, I was in. As I grew up, reading became such an important part of my life. The novels I read really shaped who I am today. After high school, my life got so ridiculously crazy. I jumped right into the ‘adult’ life with two jobs and trying to make it as a full time student. As you can imagine, my passion for literature took a huge backseat. If it wasn’t for class, I didn’t have time for it. About six months shy of my college graduation, I realized that I wasn’t happy and that something was missing from my life. Something huge. Literature. I decided that day that I needed to make time for what makes me happy, so I did. I went out and purchased a Nook (via Craigslist, but that’s a whole other story) and haven’t looked back since.

Starting the blog was something I never intended upon doing. I came across a college-aged novel written by a popular NA author online one day and, even though it was well out of my ‘norm,’ I took a chance and read it. I fell in love. How crazy to know there was a genre out there directed towards people my own age. Characters with real problems that I could relate to? After devouring that novel, I reached out to the author via social media, and later email, where we bonded over our mutual love of the written word. When that author started a Street Team, I jumped at the opportunity, having no idea what such a thing was. I was astounded to be selected, but even more surprised to see I was the only guy. Being a male reader never stood out to me as a shocking thing. Reading is a big deal in my family. My father is a big reader, as is my brother. I guess it never occurred to me that males reading isn’t a common thing.

From that first interaction with the Street Team, readers, bloggers, and even authors began reaching out to me about ‘what it’s like to be a male reader.’ Authors were looking for male-written reviews, and I was approached by a handful when I finally decided to take the plunge and start the blog. I realized that if I was some sort of rarity in the book world, I wanted to make my voice heard. Through One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads I have met several male authors and male readers that have shown me that we really aren’t as uncommon as you’d think. We’re just quieter. Imagine that.

It was a love-hate relationship for a while, starting the blog, but once I got comfortable and settled, I can honestly say I’ve never done anything more fulfilling in my entire. This is my passion, and I’m so glad I found it once more. I have no intention of letting it go this time. Get used to seeing me book world, I don’t plan on going anywhere!

That WAS the shortened version. Geez…

And I have to share with everyone about your upcoming Book World: Behind the Scenes series where you are interviewing industry professionals who talk about all the work it takes to get from word document to bookstores. Check out the first post here

Of course I have to ask you ... What was your first favorite book?

EG: I know most people say something cliché like Harry Potter or Twilight, but as long as I had been reading, it really took quite some time for one novel to root itself in as a favorite. The first time I ever read a novel and said ‘this is it, my favorite novel’ was Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. I read it for the first time when I was 13 (entirely too young). I didn’t understand ¾ of what I read, but the idea was just beyond intriguing. Since that time, I have read Wicked more times than I can count. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve probably read it at least 50 times. To this day it remains my all-time favorite novel. Seriously. It’s that amazing.

If you were to ask my mother, she’d tell you that Jamberry by Bruce Degen was my ‘first favorite’ story, but this isn’t her interview, is it? J Seriously though, I have to give a lot of credit to my mom who spent a lot of time reading to me when I was little. She instilled a love of literature in me very early on, and for that I am greatly appreciative.

I love that answer, although I must admit I'm a bigger fan of Gregory Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister! But I'm the same way... books need to brew sometimes. I noticed you refer to Christina Marie of LuLo Fangirl on your blog in the comments section as your “bookish wife.” She’s amazing. How long have you been friends, and how did you know she was the one?

EG: Oh boy… Well… We do make quite the power couple, don’t we? You are right, Christina is amazing, and she truly is my bookish-better-half. Christina and I have been friends for about 15 months now. We only met last April for the first time. We only live about 3 hours apart, but I didn’t get to know her until I became part of the bookish world. Christina and I met for the first time at a book event in Des Moines, Iowa (random, right?) in the middle of one of the craziest weather days ever. Tornadoes, hail, you name it. I’ll never forget that day. We were both there to meet a couple favorite authors of ours. Funny enough, we really didn’t ‘hit it off’ right off the bat. I was actually terrified of her when I first met her. She’s feisty! In all seriousness though, from that first encounter Christina and I built our friendship and we’ve both been through so much together. She has been the single biggest supporter of me and the blog. Together we hosted the Halloween Author Invasion on Facebook this past October to HUGE acclaim (we’ll be doing it again in the Fall), even farther building our relationship. We’re about so much more than books. Christina has turned into one of my best friends--she’s my people. She ‘gets me’ more than most people I know. I’m truly fortunate to have her on my side.  How did I know she was the one? Have you met Christina? End of story! LOL.

So true. Meeting her is loving her. Same with you, so you guys fit together! Your bio said you were still looking for a career, but then you mentioned it needed updating. Have you found your calling?

EG: *sigh* Well, yes and no. I have found my calling. THIS is my calling. While I haven’t found a way to make it pay the bills quite yet, I know with more hard work and the right connections that could change any day. I am currently working an internship with the Corvisiero Literary Agency, but have many other bookish options on my plate. I’m trying to dabble a little in all sides of the industry to see where I best fit in! Publicity and Publishing are both huge on my list, so we will see what happens! As for now, I am content working my 9-5 then coming home and spending my evenings following my passion! Who could ask for more?

Right? It'll happen. You have the passion it takes to make sure it does. And I must know… you wore a crown at UtopYA. What’s its significance?

EG: Ah yes. I feel like I should have made an announcement at the keynote explaining this as everyone was curious! The crown started out as an inside joke between my good friend, and bestselling author, Sherry D. Ficklin and I. I have been promoting Sherry out since day one, as she is one of my all-time favorite authors. Sherry and I made some jokes one night about me pimping out her books and she started referring to me as ‘Tyrone’ (because that’s a Pimp name apparently?).

The night before UtopYA, Christina and I arrived in Nashville well after midnight. We figured everyone would be in bed, alas a message from Sherry and her gang beckoned us to the lobby (I was meeting them for the first time). After hugs and a few flails, Sherry mentioned she had a gift for me. To my surprise (and the confusion of everyone in the hotel lobby), Sherry presented me with the crown, dubbing me ‘King Tyrone: The One True King of Literary Pimping.’ After placing the crown on my head, the entire group bowed at my feet. It was pretty hilarious actually, but extremely touching. Sherry is hilarious and such a fun lady. It was after being crowned that we decided the crown would not leave my head all weekend long.

It may not have been Sherry’s goal to make me stand out, but I had SO many people approaching me because of the crown and thanks to it, I made so many new bookish friends. It’s been discussed that my alter-ego ‘Tyrone’ may have to come out for every book event from now on! It’s was such a fun idea of Sherry’s and I’m so honored she thought to get it for me. Probably one of the highlights of my UtopYA experience!

OMG! I love that story. Sherry is clearly a sweetheart. So... I love to talk books. What qualities do your most loved books share?

EG: I’m a stickler for a few things. 1) Beautiful covers 2) Intriguing settings and 3) Captivating characters. Setting and character development are two of the heaviest things I consider when reviewing a novel. Any book I’m raving about will fit all three of those categories for the most part! I used to pretty much just read paranormal or historic fiction, but my interests have expanded exponentially so my list of favorite qualities has as well!

Spot on. I'm all about characters. So, there's a question I'm asking most of my participants because I love to be inspired. What is your favorite inspirational quote? Why?

EG: Definitely not a fair question since I have SO MANY favorite quotes. Dr. Seuss is usually my go-to, but when it comes to inspiration, this quote from Gregory Maguire usually comes to mind:

“Remember this: Nothing is written in the stars. Not these stars, nor any others. No one controls your destiny.” 

I’ll never forget the first time that quote really spoke to me. It was at a time when I really needed to hear those words and they still guide me on a daily basis. Maguire was right; we are the masters of our own fate. Only we can take control and accomplish our dreams. The man is a genius.

Okay, I'm definitely going to be re-reading that one all the time. What do you think makes UtopYA, renamed Utopia for its fifth year in 2016, so special?

EG: SO many things make UtopYA special, but my favorite part is the inclusion of my Indie and traditionally published authors. Anyone who follows my blog knows that I have a massive amount of respect for indie authors. While all authors are my rockstars, they hold a special place in my heart. Publishing is hard. It’s even harder to do it alone. I have mad respect for UtopYA for including these authors in their panels and exhibiting. It’s a great opportunity for the little guys to get their names out there. These past two years I have met some of my all time favorite authors just by chance. Who were just chilling at their tables. If UtopYA didn’t support indie authors the way they do, I would have never been introduced to their works!

✮ Quick Answers 

Last Movie you saw: Poltergeist (the 2015 remake)
Comedy, Romance, Drama, or Horror? Hmm… I love disaster films so drama?
Last book you read: The Pledge by Laura Ward and Christine Manzari (SO GOOD!)
First job: Shop Hand/Truck Washer/Mechanic Assistant/Get-in-the-way-er (It was an interesting 3 years…)
Gift cards or cash? Oh… Uhm… Gift cards.
Favorite Vacation Spot: Gah. Hard choice. Uhm… Seattle. Went for the first time last summer and had the best week ever!

More About Ethan

A recent college graduate, Ethan hails from the Missouri Bootheel, though don't ask where, you'd miss it anyway! Ethan used his small town wit and charm to push his way through four years at Missouri State University where he graduated with a double bachelors degree in history and anthropology in the Spring of 2014. After working a long list of boring jobs, Ethan finds himself now on the search for a "career" while working a plethora of interesting jobs. When he isn't studying or working, Ethan can usually be found attached to his Nook reading the latest and greatest. His love of literature can be attributed to his amazing family and a few select instructors who have taught him that the best way to find himself is through a good book. An avid fan of the entertainment industry, Ethan is always up to date on the film and TV scene, but is a huge fan of all things Broadway (random, he knows).

As of Summer 2015, Ethan is also an agency intern with the Corvisiero Literary Agency under the direction of Sarah Negovetich.

His hobbies include sleep, looking for a prospective wife, and speaking in the third person. 


Instagram: @egrgry
Twitter: @egrgry


Please visit often for more UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial) interviews, 
and check out the announcement post to see
the schedule and links to past interviews.

1 comment:

Jo Michaels said...

I LOVED meeting Ethan!

Adored the crown. I shall always remember him as "the king." hehe

Awesome interview, you guys!