An interview with KJ Van Houten, an SFR reader with a geek side #ReadersParlor

Reader’s Parlor is a weekly feature in which I interview readers! Today’s guest is Kim “KJ” Van Houten, an SF/SFR reader and big audio book listener.

Cara: What do you like to read?

KJ: I have a variety of reading interests, mostly SF and SFR, but some fantasy, historical romances, and a few contemporary romantic suspense.  I prefer long books and series where each book is a different main character or couple, but an occasional series with the same may catch my interest. I love cyborgs, space pirates, scientists, and military heroes and heroines. If they have a strong geek side, I’m hooked. I don’t care about steam level in a book – I read the gamut from sweet to erotic – I just require a good plot and some character development along with any steamy scenes.  I rarely read non-fiction, but if I do, it’s usually related to futurism, psychology, or archaeology.

Cara: Why do you read? What do you enjoy most about reading?

KJ: I read for escapism. I love the feeling of getting sucked into a new world and forgetting about reality for a while. It gives me a chance to go to a new place and even be a new person. I’m very introverted so  reading gives me a chance to at least mentally do things I wouldn’t normally do. A good book sparks my imagination and I’m usually continuing the story in my mind for hours after the book ends. A good HEA renews my faith in the world and in the power of love.

Cara: What do you love to see in a story? What are your pet peeves?

KJ: I love to see a good romance and a good adventure. I want the villain to meet his or her fate in a satisfying way. I want to see a character arc as well as a good plot. I want a long book with lots of detail, but not to the extent of describing every daily action or every blade of grass. I love to see a strong hero show vulnerability and a geeky side. Nothing melts my heart quite as fast as a military/mercenary/pirate type showing some geekiness and a weakness for puppies, or something similar.

My biggest pet peeve is when an author has pages and pages of sex but little plot holding those pages together. I want a reason for a relationship beyond lust, and I want it to makes sense that these came together. I dislike whiney heroes or heroines unless they get over that really fast. Tropes I try to avoid include millionaires/billionaires, abduction, and slavery (with a few exceptions).

What’s on your TBR list right now?

KJ: Definitely too long of a list! And it changes every week, darn that Veronica Scott and her weekly new releases posts! So top 5 most likely to read soon (Note: any new release by Veronica Scott, Anna Hackett, Jess Anastasi, or Cara Bristol will move to the top of my TBR list immediately):

  • The Mercenary by Petra Landon
  • Beloved Enemy by Hywela Lyn
  • Specters in the Storm by Pauline Baird Jones
  • The Space Colonel’s Woman by Jay Shaw
  • The Rogue Prince by Lindsay Buroker

Cara: Aw! Thanks for the mention! When you’re not reading, what do you like to do?

KJ: When not reading, I’m usually lurking on Facebook, where I’m in a number of author or book-related fan groups. I also enjoy watching TV shows and movies, usually action or SF-related. I’m a huge fan of the Marvel movies and series, as well as Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Expanse, and Lord of the Rings. (So many others to list!) I doI try to catch up on the backlog of writing SFR book reviews for Whiskey With My Book blog ( Writing freeverse poetry is another hobby and I have some posted online at, although it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything new.

Cara: If you could meet one fictional character, who would it be and why?

KJ:I think this answer would change daily. Today Gandalf from Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings was the first to pop into my head. I’d love to listen to his stories and watch his fireworks.

Quick five:

Ebook, print or audiobook: Ebook AND audibook

Your favorite place to read: Recliner

Number of books you read in a year: 200+ (half are audiobooks)

A favorite childhood book: A Wrinkle in Time

Favorite beverage while reading: Diet Coke

KJ Van Houten bio

I’m 51, married with one ‘I refuse to believe she’s an adult’ daughter, and an ever-by-my-side furry canine. I work from home as a freelance graphic designer, despite having a B.A in Psychology with a minor in Cultural Anthropology and an M.S. in Studies of the Future – which I consider more as ‘lifestyle’ degrees than geared to a career in my case. My job is not really that glamourous, so I make it more interesting by listening to audiobooks. I grew up in rural Texas, then lived in both Austin and Houston before moving to Southern California 23 years ago to be with the man I married. I’ve always been a ‘space-case’ with my head more in the stars that grounded in reality. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, and SF has always been my favourite genre until I discovered SFR! Same with movies and TV shows – if it’s SF, I’m usually watching it, or it’s in the queue.

See Kim on Facebook


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15 Responses to An interview with KJ Van Houten, an SFR reader with a geek side #ReadersParlor

  1. Tasha Black says:

    Great interview! And “A Wrinkle In Time” was such a good place to begin a love of reading! 🙂

    • KJ Van Houten says:

      It was a favourite but I think I loved reading before I could actually read! I remember mom giving me those Little Golden Books to keep me occupied as I sat in a shopping cart at the grocery store! The book that first hooked me into SF though was Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. The idea of traveling g to other worlds fascinated me quite young.

  2. Fun interview! (And I love the Whiskey With My Book Blog – I try to tweet it as often as I can…great content over there.) Thanks for the mention of my books – I’m SO happy you enjoy them! I have fun doing the weekly New Releases post but yeah, I end up with wayyyy too many books on my own TBR List every week too. This is really an inspired idea for a series of posts, Cara! So lovely to ‘meet’ the readers in this fashion.

  3. Lea Kirk says:

    Great interview, Kim! I love reading about my favorite readers/reviewers in this segment (like reverse fan girling. Lol!) Give Ghost a pat for me. XOXO

  4. KJ Van Houten says:

    Thank you! It was fun to do this interview!

  5. Jo Jones says:

    Enjoying this series. Another great interview.

  6. Nice to meet you KJ!

    Since you’re a graphic designer…does a book’s cover make a big difference in your decision to buy?

    • KJ Van Houten says:

      Honestly no! A cover is the LAST consideration for me! The blurb on the back cover and title are what matters. I think I stopped caring about covers long ago when I realized that they often didn’t match descriptions inside. Plus, I get caught up in the visual details of the cover (colour, font, cropping, editing) and it distracts me. I recognize covers are there to appeal at a glance, and most people are influenced by that, and that’s ok. I know it’s more difficult to make a good cover than most people think, however, and I do appreciate the time and effort that goes into them. All in all, I think cover artists are vastly underpaid.

      • Cara Bristol says:

        Given the explosion of Indie Publishing, it’s really hard to find good cover art that isn’t on another book. It used to be rare to see the same model on other books. Now it’s very common. The more unique your character is, the harder it is to find representative art. Sometimes, you just have to go with a general concept.

      • True. Covers seem to be more about attracting readers to get them to read the blurb than something that reflects the story. Yes, a good cover artist is worth their weight in gold.

  7. Great interview, lovely to meet you KJ. I’m a cat person through’n’through, but Ghost is gorgeous!

  8. Your bookshelves give me fond memories of mine before I had to down size my collection due to space.

  9. I really like your TBR(eviewd-cough) list. I mean Read. So fun to see you interviewed here KJ!

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