We have an in-depth interview with Jennifer Brozek, whose recent short story collection APOCALYPSE GIRL DREAMING has just been releases.
Let’s welcome Jennifer!
Do you have a favorite character in your recent books and if so why?
My current favorite character is Melissa Allen, the teenage protagonist of my forthcoming modern day YA SF-Thriller series. The first book, NEVER LET ME SLEEP, is due out in early June 2015. I really like her because she has so much going wrong for her but she still toughs it out. Far from perfect, when the reader meets Melissa, she’s a troubled teen under house arrest who isn’t allowed to do anything on her own. However, when there’s no one there to help her, she helps herself and ends up saving the day.
Teaser: What would you do if you woke up one day and everyone in your house, on your street, and in your town was dead? Then you discovered you weren’t alone and what was out there was hunting you?
Who is your favorite author and why?
Such a tough question. I am a voracious reader. I can think of twelve authors I can’t do without right off the top of my head. Instead, I’ll settle on the first author who opened my eyes to the magic of reading: Susan Cooper and her Dark is Rising series. I was about ten years old and until I read this series, I didn’t get what the big deal was about reading. Then, suddenly, I did. I would not be an author today if I had not discovered her.
Why write SFF? Why read SSF?
I love science fiction and fantasy because it opens the world to what could be. Near future SF and urban fantasy explore what is happening right now while far future SF and space fantasy often extrapolates what we have now down logical lines of what the future could be like. Frequently, SFF informs the mainstream what is coming down the line. It inspires creators and innovators to dream, explore, and invent.
How would you define modern day YA SF-Thriller for an uninitiated reader?
The Melissa Allen series is set in present day, middle America. I’m playing around with real world locations and technology. None of the YA characters have super powers, but all of them have something to them that makes them unique. The science and technology in the series is either real or plausible and it, in and of itself, is almost a character (as in all good SF stories). I call the series a “thriller” rather than horror because there isn’t a supernatural aspect to the series. It takes science to kill the monster and the monster and its obstacles are based in science and technology.
What advice would you give for the aspiring writer?
There are a lot of “Don’t” rules in writing: Don’t use adverbs. Don’t use clichés. Don’t start your story waking up. The list is huge. What I think the aspiring writer should do is learn why those rules are there and, if they are going to break them, break them with a purpose to support the story. Make sure you understand the foundations of writing before you color outside the lines.
The other thing I want to say, as an editor, is that it is not the writer’s job to tell me “No.” The writer’s job is to write the story to the best of their ability and to submit it to the editor. It is the editor’s job to determine whether or not the story suits the venue. Too many writers tell me, “I had a story for you but I didn’t think it was good enough.” Writers can be their own worst critic. Let the editor decide if the story is appropriate.
What book do you go back to re-read over and over?
I have a number of comfort reading books and series. The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. The Matadora series by Steve Perry. Dune by Frank Herbert. All of these books (and more) are old friends and are appreciated.
If you could attempt anything and know you wouldn’t fail, what would you do?
I would become an astronaut. I want to experience space so much. If I had the money, I would become a space tourist and live on the ISS for a few days. It’s something I’ve dreamed about for ages. I want to be able to look down on earth someday.
In your next life what/who do you want to come back as?
I think I’d like to come back as a cat. Proper pettage. Sleeping half the day away. Killing fabric toys. If I were to come back as a person, I think I’d like to be a scientific explorer of some kind—deep sea exploration or space exploration.
What is your next/current project? Just a little tease would be wonderful.
I’ve just turned in NEVER LET ME LEAVE, book two of the Melissa Allen series (due out in December 2015). It’s my take on the haunted barn story. 6 adults and 5 teenagers trapped in an underground lab with a monster and a human helping the monster. They are being picked off one by one. It’s Melissa’s job to keep the teens together and working towards escape.
I’m outlining Melissa Allen 3, NEVER LET ME DIE. I can’t tell you much about it except it is set in Richland, Missouri and involves spies, genetic manipulation, and a castle ruins. In the meantime, I’m writing a futuristic Mech short story called “Vulture Patrol” and a piece of SFF flash fiction called “Better Pet Care Through Love and Trauma.”
Jennifer Brozek is an award-winning editor, game designer, and author. Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited fourteen anthologies with more on the way, including Chicks Dig Gaming and Shattered Shields. Author of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, Industry Talk, In a Gilded Light, and the Karen Wilson Chronicles, she has more than sixty published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.
About Apocalypse Girl Dreaming: Peek into the mind and dreams of award winning editor and author Jennifer Brozek. Travel from the weird west to the hidden worlds of Kendrick all the way to the far reaches of space. This collection contains twenty previously published short stories and includes the brand new Kember Empire story “Found on the Body of a Solider.” Enjoy your journey and don’t forget your survival gear. Apocalypse Girl is waiting.
274 pages | Evil Girlfriend Media, LLC | January 16, 2015 | ebook