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As mentioned in last week’s blog post, I’m featuring book bloggers and bookstagrammers and the wonderful work they do to publicize and celebrate books. Today we have Alex whose Instagram id is @bookandteapairings.

Why did you start blogging about or featuring books? I was living in Singapore at the time I had this idea to pair books with tea.  I had access to so many wonderful Southeast Asian authors and regional teas, and I wanted a forum to highlight these diverse authors by immersion through local tea pairings.  I have always found that a sensory experience enhances my read!

What type of books appeal to you and why? I tend to gravitate towards historical novels because I love reading about worlds that are different from my own but which carry universal themes.  It is for that reason that I have become so enamored with authors from diverse walks of life who can bring forth fresh perspectives.  For example, I recently posted about a book called Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, a Singaporean author.  The entire book is written in Singapore dialect, or Singlish. There is a slight learning curve, but it was my favorite read of the summer!

Do you concentrate on a specific genre? If so, can you tell us a bit about your passion for that genre. I organize my pairings by collection.  Right now, I am in the middle of my Japan Collection, in which I feature Japanese authors and books relating to Japan.  I recently came back from a trip to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, and I emerged with an endless supply of books and tea and pairing pictures! Organizing my pairings by collection has opened a window for me to read books that I never would have otherwise chosen or even known about. Next up is my Haunted Tales Collection. I’m already sleeping with the lights on!

Who are your readers and followers? How do you engage with them? My followers are an amazing group of readers who want to fully immerse themselves in diverse books through tea – and sometimes tasty treats!  Since I read every book and try ever tea I post, I can give my followers ideas for pairings that I have tested myself.  I love to take my followers on a journey to a particular place through my pairings, which I have done on my travels in Bali, Australia, New Zealand, and the Maldives.  I love to hear feedback and book recommendations and am always so inspired by other bookstagrammers!

If you have a blog, what features does it offer? For example, ‘best of’ lists, author interviews, a book rating system. I am working on a blog currently and hope to have it up and running soon.  My ultimate goal is to start a book and tea pairing of the month club and ship pairings to you, so you don’t have to leave your book nooks for a pairing!

What ways do you use to attract new readers and followers? I try to vary the genres of books and tea I highlight, so that readers and tea drinkers with diverse interests are always stimulated.  I hope that doing so attracts followers with a full spectrum of interests.

How do you interact with authors and publicists? I have a few friends in the publishing industry, and I love to hear about upcoming novels and authors to watch out for! If there is a novel that speaks to me or that would fit in a collection, I reach out to the author to see if a pairing would be of interest. It is a pleasure to work with debut authors who deserve encouragement and love from the bookstagram world.

What trends or changes have you noticed in the book world? I love that female authors and authors of color are consistently featured on bookstagram pages. I see bookstagram as a microcosm for book engagement, so it is very encouraging!

If you could wave your magic wand, what would you change about the book industry? I would love to see more books in other languages get published and translated into English.  I dabble in French-to-English literary translation, and I see too many worthy diverse books that do not get selected for these opportunities.  I am heartened to see bigger publishing companies like Amazon Crossing making huge strides in the translation industry, and I can’t wait to see more of that!

Many thanks for being the first in this series, Alex. I’m sure many of my readers will check out your books and teas. And good luck with your blog – keep me posted.

Photo courtesy of Alex at @bookandteapairings.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.