It’s been a long time, but the VS interviews have returned! We’re kicking off 2015 with author and editor Jennifer Brozek, whose new book Apocalypse Girl Dreaming will be released on January 16, 2015, from Evil Girlfriend Media. I had a chat with Mrs. Brozek to talk about her new book, writing, and editing!
- Please tell us a little bit about Jennifer Brozek.
I guess I could say that I’m a woman who lives my life in stories by keeping my head in the clouds and my feet firmly on the ground. I’m an author, editor, game designer, gamer, cat slave, wife, and mentor. I really do see stories in everything. Writing and editing is my full time job.
- Wait, did you say “cat slave”?
*laugh* Yes. I have four cats: Isis and Pharaoh (Egyptian Maus), Leeloo (Singapura) and Mena (Highlander Lynx). They are my little brats and my little loves. I cater to them when I need to. Also, right now, I’m fostering two Singapuras (Talia and Lyta) in my guestroom. The pride, they are not amused. So, yes. Cat slave. Slave to cats.
- Well, thank the cats for giving you time off to do an interview with me! On to your awesome new book, Apocalypse Girl Dreaming! How would you sum it up?
Apocalypse Girl Dreaming is my short story collection that showcases my favorite writing universes. The urban fantasy stories are set in my Kendrick universe. The weird west stories are mostly set in my Mowry universe. A lot of my science fiction is set in my Kember Empire universe. Then there are the tie-in stories for Mercedes Lackey and the Lovecraftian stories and all of the other one-offs.Apocalypse Girl Dreaming is a very good look into my writing life.
- From my personal perspective, I was a bit apprehensive when I saw that the story are tied to the universes of other works, like the Mowry Universe and the Kember Empire Universe, because I thought it would be difficult to get into the worlds without having the full story. So, kudos and congrats to you for making the stories stand quite well on their own! When you were selecting stories for this anthology, did you worry that the tied universes would be an issue for some readers?
I thought about that and, in the end, I decided it wasn’t going to be a problem. I wrote each story as a standalone for a different publication. They had to be understandable for readers who haven’t read that universe before. For most, what links the various stories together are the characters. The most tightly bound stories are the weird west Mowry ones and even they are clear and distinct separate stories. The Kendrick stories are mostly background stories that barely touch the main story. The Kember Empire stories are linked only through the briefest mentions of people or places.
- Does that mean that there aren’t any more Natara Kintares stories? Because I really want there to be more.
No… not yet. But I do have a space opera YA series to start writing in mid-to-late 2015 that may mention her. She won’t be the star but she might become a secondary or tertiary character.
- Well, I will add my voice to the soon-to-be legion of fans clamoring for more of her!
Thank you. I will note that down.
- You stated that you “see stories in everything.” I think no story in this collection proves that more than “Eulogy for Muffin,” which I thought was genuinely disturbing and I loved it. I have to ask, how did you get from “pig statue” to, well, “Eulogy for Muffin”?
Originally, the story was written for a Moccus anthology (that it got rejected from). He is a pagan deity of the hunt and of leading the souls of the dead (if I remember correctly). I’d heard the call for the anthology the day before I visited Pike’s Place Market. Did you know, there really are pig statues all around Seattle? There was an art project some time ago and 100 pigs were made. I believe the pig theme was in honor of the bronze pig at Pike’s Place Market, but I won’t swear to it. When I researched this, I found pictures and the one described in the story is based one of these created art pigs. From there, it was easy to link art pigs to the wild hunt.
- In this anthology, you have a wide variety of genres represented, form weird western to horror to urban fantasy to space opera. Do you have a particular favorite genre to write?
Honestly, no. I go in cycles. It all depends on my mood, what I’m reading, and what I’m working on at the time. It also depends on what has been contracted when. For example, I’m finishing up my second Melissa Allen novel, Never Let Me Leave. It is a modern day YA SF-Thriller. I am also working on a space opera Mech short story for one publisher and I’m plotting out a high fantasy short story for another.
I do have a muse and sometimes fall prey to her whims but I never let her rule me. Writing is a job. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. Interestingly enough (to me), my muse’s whim is usually a Lovecraftian tale.
- Well, that leads into the next question very nicely! Which authors were/are the biggest influences on your writing?
Oh good gracious. Well, a lot. Growing up it was Asimov, Heinlein, Mercedes Lackey, Steve Perry, Stephen King, Dean Koontz. Now, add in Seanan McGuire, Neil Gaiman, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Scalzi, Jay Lake, Jody Lynn Nye and Paul Cornell. Honestly, there are more… like Ken Rand’s book, The 10% Solution. I read a lot. Michio Kaku and Chris Hadfield also have some great things to say in the non-fiction arena. I think I learn something from every single thing I read.
Oh… and the author who started it all, of course… Susan Cooper. It was her writing that opened up the magic of reading to me. Without her, I wouldn’t be the author I am today.
- That is quite the list! Switching gears, do you have a particular favorite genre to edit?
To edit… horror or dark urban fantasy. I think those are my favorites. I understand them and I enjoy them.
- What about those genres in particular draws you to them?
I like to be scared and surprised. I like learning about words hidden on the edges of society. Most modern day horror and urban fantasy have a hidden world aspect to them that means they could be happening around you as you walk outside your front door and that appeals to me.
- I really like that answer!
“I see story ideas. All the time. They’re everywhere. Just walking around like normal ideas. They don’t know they’re stories.”
- I don’t know why that just made me think of “The Sixth Sense,” but it did. Any closing thoughts for the readers?
That’s because I based that on the big reveal of The Sixth Sense.
Closing thoughts? Thank you to my publishers for wanting me to write for you. It brings me such joy. Thank you to my editors for making me seem that much more awesome. Thank you to my readers for loving what I write. Knowing I’ve impacted you in some way is an author’s love.
Thanks again to Jennifer Brozek for the interview! You can find her on Twitter on @jenniferbrozek and on Facebook here. Pre-order your copy of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming at Amazon now!
If you’re in the Seattle area, why not stop by the release party for Apocalypse Girl Dreaming? It’s Friday, January 16th, starting at 6 PM, at the SeaTac Hilton Conference Rooms, Columbia A. Along with Mrs. Brozek, many other local authors, myself included, will be present, reading and signing books!