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AlIt is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Al Kunz, a reviewer and all round top guy. I met Al thanks to Indies Unlimited and have since been a secret follower of his blog, which reviews all sots of books. Al, welcome to Facing 50 with humour. Please relax, take a deep breath and then answer the rapid fire round:

slinkySlinky or Spirograph?

Definitely Slinky. I only wish they didn’t need to be replaced after stretching them from one end of the house to another.

Lassie or Hogan’s Heroes?

I see nothing.

Frank Zappa or Lynyrd Skynyrd?

I got my start as a reviewer doing music reviews for a couple websites and a magazine, so I’d like to say Frank Zappa to maintain whatever music hipster cred I might have, but if I’m going to be honest, Skynyrd.

Please tell us a short joke?

Ummm. I don’t tell short jokes. They’re a bit of a sore spot for me. I’ve heard them all. Usually as the brunt of them. Luckily, most fly right over my head. I hope this answer isn’t too short.

Did you ever own a bean bag chair?beanbag chair

Not only did I own a bean bag chair, but the only furniture in the living room of my first apartment consisted of that bean bag chair. At least I had a bed. My roommate slept in a sleeping bag on the floor of his room.

What one mad thing would you like to do before you are too old to do it?

Retire. I think retirement is wasted on those who are too old to appreciate it.

Where did you take your very first date?

I can’t remember who it was with, let alone where we went. To be honest, I’m not certain it ever happened.

Onto more sensible answers now:

What is your favourite all time book?

mockingbirdBy “more sensible” questions now you mean “impossible to answer,” right? I read between 100 and 200 books a year (some fiction, some non-fiction) and have maintained that pace for forty-some-odd years now. Yet I rarely re-read fiction. I would think to qualify as my favourite, it would need to be a book that I would read more than once. Although it has been many years since I read it, I’m going to choose “To Kill a Mockingbird” because it is on my list to read again. And I will. As soon as Harper Lee or her heirs allow it to be released in a Kindle format.

What genre/genres do you write?

I typically claim I’m not a writer and I’m definitely not an author. At least I don’t look at myself that way. I like to say (stealing from H.L. Mencken) “those who can, do, those who can’t, review.” The vast majority of my writing has been reviews, either books or music. But as of a few weeks ago, I’m listed as a contributing author to one of the books in the series Indies Unlimited is doing and hope to be in more. If I ever do write a book all by myself, it will be non-fiction of some kind.

What do you do to help you concentrate on writing?

catI wish I knew the answer to that. Between email, Facebook, and all the other distractions on the internet, it’s amazing to me that I ever get anything productive done at the computer. (I’ve now been sitting here for ten hours. But I’m slowly chipping away at your questions, in between sharing cute cat pictures and responding to the gang of friends bombarding my facebook wall with posts trying to convince me I need to get a dog as a pet so I won’t feel lonely. Don’t they realize that why I have them?)

You are an experienced chap (!) in the field of writing and known for your keen observations. What one piece of advice would you give to budding writers?

I’m not sure I’d say I’m experienced as a writer, but I’m very experienced as a reader. Even so, I think I could write a book on the mistakes writers make. I wonder if anyone would buy it? If I have to pick one single thing for writers who want to get better, whether budding writers or experienced, it would be to seek out people who will give you a balanced critique. That isn’t going to be your mother who is legally obligated to tell you every word you scribble is among the best words since Gutenberg. It needs to be someone who will tell you the good things, but also point to areas where you can improve. Not someone to tear you down (those people will find you eventually anyway), but someone to point the way to getting better. Then it’s up to you to act on that feedback. Without constructive feedback, improvement is almost impossible. We’re the worst judges of ourselves there is. At least I hope that’s true, otherwise my writing really sucks.

Could you please write a few brief words about you – something that doesn’t show up on the Indies Unlimited website? Surprise us!

I’m just a boring old guy who used to have too much time on his hands and has managed to find ways to fill it all (and then some). When I manage to escape the internet and my reviewer’s bunker, I like to travel (most frequently to music festivals) and hang out with my three (soon to be four) grandkids, who do their best to keep me entertained and feeling young (while managing to wear me out without even trying). I also like to overuse (way overuse) parentheses. One of my favourite sayings is, “everyone needs an editor” (my parentheses are one reason why).

Al Kunz is one of the contributing authors to Indies Unlimited Tutorials and Tools for a Prospering Digital Age which has 62 very useful tutorials not just for authors but for anyone seeking to improve their/internet,digital/social media presence.

Click on the title Tutorials and Tools for Prospering in a Digital World to find out more about this excellent book, and how to purchase it.

IU Tutorial Book

Where can people find out more about you Al? 

My review site is BigAl’s Books and Pals, where I and a small group of pals review books from indie authors (both self-published and small press).

You can follow Books and Pals on Twitter  or Facebook

I also run another site called The Indie View, which has interviews with authors and book reviewers, a page with the links to the latest reviews of indie books from several contributing reviewers, for readers. It also has a list of indie friendly reviewers, for authors. You can follow this site on both Twitter and Facebook

Many thanks indeed Al for taking time out of your very busy schedule and dropping by.