About Sylvia Bagaglio:
Sylvia began reading before the age of four and was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a library. Her parents instituted the rule that she and her sister were allowed to read any book they could reach, so they learned how to climb the shelves. It seems Adams and Tolkien and King were far more interesting that Dr. Seuss (even if he had better pictures). While she is always seeking to procure and read new books, she has a habit of re-reading old favorites like Dickson’s THE DRAGON AND THE GEORGE once a year or so. Sylvia is happy to interrupt her reading to work as a professional art thief - er - handler - during the day and play stage hand and spotlight operator for burlesque shows at night. Working with such a wide array of people gives her ample fodder for her quote collection, much of which is posted on her Twitter account.
SK: Hello, Sylvia, and welcome to Manuscripts Burn!
SB: Thanks for having me!
SK: As anyone who has read THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO knows, I have an ongoing love affair with saucy puppets. Can it possibly be true that you were a real life puppeteer?
SB: Well, that's debatable. Having worked in a number of props departments, I've built and/or refurbished my fair share of puppets. Which means testing them. A lot. The biggest one was a two-man crocodile puppet for a production of "Peter Pan"; I think I performed emergency orthodontic services on it about a dozen times while I was on tour with that show. We also had an ostrich that needed occasional re-inflating, since she was mostly a rugby ball. I also once made my Kermit the Frog a full habit so he could appear in "Nunsense". But aside of entertaining friends and little kids (and myself), I've never been a real puppet performer, myself.
SK: For the purposes of the title of this blogpost I'll be ignoring that thoughtful, nuanced answer. Let's talk a little bit about your work as a book reviewer. How do you go about reviewing a book? Do you have a process or is it just kind of an organic thing?
SB: It depends on the book. I always bookmark passages I know I'll want to recall or that might make a good opening quote, but other than that, I usually read through just for the story. Sometimes I go back and skim read the first couple of chapters just before I write the review, if I need to refresh my memory on exposition. I find having a cup of tea is usually helpful when I'm reading. Once I'm ready to write the review, I often get the nuts and bolts down first (title, publisher, price, interesting quote, etc), and then draft the review. Then I usually give it a day or two before I go back to it, self-edit, and submit it to the full editing crew for polishing.
SK: What is the best way to handle dry ice?
SB: With tongs or gloves! Water ice is frozen at 32 degrees Farenheit. Dry ice is carbon dioxide, frozen at -109 degrees Farenheit. That's more than 200 degrees colder than regular human body temperature, and it will burn your skin just as quickly as something 200 degrees hotter than your body temperature (300 degrees). Properly handled though, it's a really great thing to use in science experiments! (Here's an excellent basic guide on eHow: Experiments With Dry Ice.
SK: Damn, I thought I would stump you with that one. Let's move on. How did you get involved with the Bookshelf Bombshells project?
SB: I got involved with Bookshelf Bombshells because of Dawn. I've known her for (mumble) years and she put out a call for ladies who love to read and wanted to write about what they read. I saw a chance for free books and took it.
SK: How do things work behind the scenes over there?
SB: Well, Dawn and Lacy both get sent an inordinate number of books in print without even asking for them. They also get sent emails about books and letters about books and for all I know get psychic spam about books too. The contact comes from PR people, publishing houses, and sometimes directly from authors. Those of us who have been reviewing for a while also get contacted directly by all of the above. We all have day jobs, so we can't review everything we're offered. We pool what we're offered, accept as much as we can, divvy it up, and get cracking on reading and writing. Oh, and did I mention that we live all over the country? We email.
SK: Hmm, I guess I've been guilty of that. I need to remember to bother Dawn instead of you. But let's talk about some fun stuff that the non-reading types will be interested. Can you tell us about some of the more unusual jobs you've done over the years?
SB: Well, you've read above about performing orthodontic services on a giant crocodile puppet and re-inflating an ostrich. I've taught kindergarteners about traditional Japanese architecture; I've built custom masts for carbon-fiber racing yachts; I've provided lighting design for a beauty pageant that was part of the Miss America franchise; I've worked as a hilt-smith, making the decorative bronze hilts and pommels for swords and daggers (in a converted goat shed); I've had more than one job that required me to set things on fire and/or blow up things; and I've covered a 17' elephant in 1.6 million jelly beans. Her name is Lucy, and she lives at Caesar's Palace in Atlantic City, in a candy store called It'Sugar.
|Courtesy of Flickr user iirraa|
SB: You're welcome.
SK: Any last words for our readers?
SB: It's the holiday season. Have that cookie without the side of guilt, ok?