July 11, 2006

Interviews With Bloggers, Part 9: Reese Witherfork of "Speak of the Devil"

Reese_witherfork_1 The Bella Rossa Interview With Reese Witherfork of "Speak of the Devil."

Reese Witherfork is a Canadian blogger who explores pop culture with an entertainingly irreverent viewpoint with "Speak of the Devil," and writes "2 Minute Movie Reviews" ("written by and for adults with ADHD") with contributions from friends. She also conducts "penetrating, pulse-quickening, spine-tingling, soul-altering interviews with all the greatest writers in the enticing, alluring, enchanting world of Trashy Fiction" with her site "Interviews With Trashy Novelists," and soon will be returning to the world of academia to pursue a Master's in Creative Writing.

BELLA: How would you describe your blog?

REESE: My blog is the place where I give my alter ego, Reese
Witherfork, free reign. I'll write about anything under the sun, but
almost nothing on my blog is serious. I goof around constantly.

BELLA: Why do you blog? What was your original goal or
intention when you started, and has that changed with time? Is your
blog a means to an end (finding work, developing creative ideas, making
money, meeting people), or does it exist for its own sake?

I first started blogging in order to meet other writers. My first site, "Interviews with Trashy Novelists," consists solely of interviews I conducted with other writers.

Then I started up my second site, Speak of the Devil,
which is my main site now, because I wanted a place to put the writing
I'd done that didn't seem to fit anywhere else. I did a few movie
reviews on that site, and enjoyed doing them so much that I started a
third site, 2 Minute Movie Reviews, and I managed to reel in a few really talented writers to contribute reviews to that site.

BELLA: Is there one particular post that you think exemplifies your work, or represents your best writing?

I'm fond of all of the interviews I did with "trashy novelists." I also like the review of the Clive Owen movie "Inside Man,"
where I pretended to be a crazed fan, because I like to parody "crazy
woman" behaviour. For quite a while I was pretending that I wrote
letters to inmates, and I posted these phoney letters on my blog. That was fun.

BELLA: Is there one particular post that garnered you an
atypically large reader response or number of referrals from search
engines? If so, why do you think that is?

REESE: I've done about 2 or 3 posts with "Steven
Seagal" in the title and that brings a lot of referrals from Google.
I made reference to "human trafficking" in one of my posts and that
still brings daily traffic, although I'm sure those people are all
disappointed, since my post was - as usual - not serious.

BELLA: How often do you Google yourself, check yourself on Technorati, and/or pore over your referral logs and visitor statistics?

REESE: I have a technorati button on my blog and I
check it now and then but, honestly, the information you get there
seems wildly innacurate, so I rarely bother. I check my stats now and
then, mainly just to see if there's any big jump or decline. When I
check them, I'm mostly curious about where the referrals are coming

BELLA: What are some of your favorite, "must-read" blogs?
What keeps you going back again and again? Have you ever totally lost
interest in a blog that you once really enjoyed, and if so, why?

Darkhat_buttonREESE: The first blog I ever went seriously gonzo for was "The Darkhat,"
a celebrity gossip site. The writer's humour is very original and
really over-the-top. I still use that site as a kind of standard for
me, because it's always packed with jokes and it's never, ever boring.

blogs that are linked on my site all have quality writing; I think
they're all amazing. I'm so impressed by the quality of writing I've
found on the Internet. I read less and less print material, because I
rarely find it to be as interesting as the stuff I find written by
people who often don't consider themselves to be writers at all.

What kind of person is the likeliest reader of your blog? What would you hope they get out of reading you?

REESE: Well, I think anyone who reads my blog
regularly has a good sense of humour because, if they don't, they're
just going to be confused. I like to entertain people and give them a
laugh. Plain and simple. I try to write only comical stuff, but if I
write something that's not funny, I really try to make sure that it's
worthwhile. I would never want to waste anyone's time with boring
crap. There's enough boring crap in the world.

BELLA: Are there people in your life who don't "get the
whole blog thing?" How do you explain it to them without feeling as
nerdy and defensive as I usually do?

REESE: I "discovered" the internet late last year when
I started my first blog, and I've been really fascinated with it
since. I've learned so much (including how a computer works) and I've
been exposed to so many new things that I would have been oblivious to
otherwise. I've had people criticize me for spending too much time at
the computer, but I generally tell them to mind their own business. If
I'm interested in something, I'm going to engage myself in it - end of

What's your relationship with your readers? How much interaction do you encourage?

REESE: I really appreciate my readers a lot. I doubt
I'd be interested in writing my blog if nobody was reading it, and I
really love writing it - so they're important to me. If they're the
type to write commentary, I interact with them, I take interest in
their comments and, if they have blogs, I always read them.

BELLA: How much do you self-censor, knowing that your friends and family might be reading?

REESE: I don't let anybody I know (in person) read my
blog. Nobody. It's been a bit strange, because I've become good
friends with some of the people who read my blog, and I've always felt
the need to say "you know, I'm almost always kidding, right?" My
mother and brother used to read my blog, but I kicked them off. I
found I wasn't able write what I wanted to write knowing they'd be
reading it. When I was sure they were off for good, my writing
improved vastly.

Have you ever blogged something that later you regretted and/or deleted from your blog?

REESE: I edit my posts fairly thoroughly before I publish them, so I'm usually okay with them by the time they're up on the blog.

BELLA: What are your thoughts on the phenomenon of
"doocing," wherein someone loses their job because of things they
posted on a personal blog? Are you careful to maintain a clear line
between your online self and your real world self?

REESE: If an employer found my site, I doubt they'd be
very impressed with me. That's one of the reasons I keep my internet
identity to myself.

BELLA: Are you conscious of creating an online persona? How is that persona different from the real world you?

REESE: When I write on my blog, I take the bare
essentials of my life, or my opinions on this or that - and I blow them
way the hell out of proportion, or sometimes even switch them and write
from the complete flipside. That's one of the reasons I don't want
people I know to read my site - I don't want to have to be constantly
explaining myself to them. I've tried to write earnest stuff about my
own life, but I even bored myself silly. So, yes, I'm not Reese
Witherfork and she's not me. I've been lucky that the people I've met
on the Internet tend to not be overly confused about who I actually
then tend to know I'm joking around. (I did receive hate mail once,
though, from a college aged boy who, for some reason, included a
photograph of himself).

BELLA: How long have you been online, and what kinds of
things have you done online (chat rooms, message boards, games, aimless
surfing, etc.)? How has this changed your life, for the better or worse?

REESE: I surf the blogs, but that's about it for me.
I've learned an enormous amount from reading and writing in this kind
of a forum. Among other things, I've learned how to edit the bejeezus
out of my writing, and I think that's a good skill to have. People who
read stuff on the Internet will lose patience with you if you're not

How long do you think you will continue to blog? What are the circumstances under which you can imagine yourself quitting?

REESE: Well, I'm going back to university in the fall
to do a Master's degree in Creative Writing, so all my creative efforts
will be focussed there. I'll be writing mostly short stories and those
are too long to post on a blog. If I don't have the time to continue
to do a decent blog, then I'll probably give it up, although I'm sure
I'll do the movie reviews for quite a while to come.

What's the coolest thing that's come out of your blogging experience?

REESE: I think my writing has improved a lot and, also, I've met some really amazing people.

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