Jennifer Brozek is a wordslinger and optimist, an author, media tie-in writer, an editor, and a collector of antique occult literature. She believes the best thing about being a full-time freelance publishing industry professional, is the fact that she gets to choose which 60 hours of the week she works. In-between cuddling her cats, writing, and editing, Jennifer Brozek is an active member of SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW. She keeps a tight writing and editing schedule and credits her husband with being the best sounding board ever. Visit Jennifer’s worlds at jenniferbrozek.com or on Twitter: @JenniferBrozek.
Jennifer Brozek, Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jennifer Brozek: I’m a full-time author, editor, and media tie-in writer. I’ve got 14 novels, 6 novellas, 4 short story collections, and 90+ short stories published. I’m also the editor or co-editor of 21 anthologies with more on the way. Beyond work, I’m an avid table top gamer and book lover. I have 1500 books, 4 cats, and 1 husband whom I call “The Husband” on social media because it amuses me. I am represented by Cherry Weiner of the Cherry Weiner Literary Agency.
How many hours a day do you write?
Jennifer: Between 1 and 4, five days a week when I’m under contract. I try to take weekends off. Everyone needs a rest. However, when I’m in deadline mode, I write every day until my word count is met.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Jennifer: More than I expected after I started thinking about it. Two finished but not polished. Two completed and being shopped around by my agent.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Jennifer: About three months from start to the end of Version 1. I may have several rewrites in there. In general, about 5 months before I’m satisfied with it and can let my alpha readers or my editors see it.
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book “Shadowrun: Elfin Black”?
Jennifer Brozek: Elfin John was originally introduced in “Dark Side Matters”, a short story published in Shadowrun: Drawing Destiny, a Sixth World Tarot anthology. I fell in love with the main character of Jonathan “Elfin John” Leeds. He is a man of contradictions, a strong will, and a need to be in control. After this story was published, I couldn’t get John out of my mind. He had unfinished business to attend to, and he wasn’t about to allow my busy writing schedule to get in the way of it. Plus I got to write about Snohomish, WA in the Sixth World and that was fun.
How did you develop your plots? How do you select the names of your characters?
Jennifer: It really depends on the project. If it is a tie-in book, I need to provide a synopsis and a full outline. I often spend time with the line developer looking to see what hasn’t been fleshed out. If it is an original work, I still outline the project. However, I usually have a good idea of where the story is going before I start the outline.
As for names…sometimes I look up what names mean and use those names—an easter egg for those who know. Other times, I look up a predominant language for the background of the story and use names from that language.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Jennifer: I was a QA Engineer for 14 years before I became a full-time writer. I suppose I would still be doing that. I’m very good at breaking software. Otherwise, I’d be a professional home organizer. I love doing that kind of stuff.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Jennifer: The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. In fact, the entire series is one that I like to reread on an every-other-year basis. I encountered them as a lonely child living in Belgium with my family. The characters spoke to me in a way no other book had before. I always say I am a reader and a writer because of Susan Cooper.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Jennifer: Different tenses and formats in books will often make me sit back and think. I used to think you couldn’t write a book in second person. Then I read Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge. That book turned my thinking upside down. I often learn new ways of writing by reading what has been told to me “can’t be done” but exists nonetheless.
What are you currently working on?
Jennifer Brozek: On the tie-in front: I’ve got contracts for my next two Shadowrun novellas, books three and four in the Mosaic Quartet. After that, I have two more Shadowrun novel ideas that will finish out a couple of plot lines. On the original fiction front, I have got a “men’s soap opera” series along the lines of The Destroyer or The Executioner, with a supernatural bent, that I’ve been playing around with.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Jennifer Brozek: I learned early on that I should take every review with a grain of salt. One book cannot be all things to all people. Thus, some people will love every single thing I write and others will hate my work with equal measure. For the most part, I read the reviews my editors and agent point me at.
Jennifer Brozek: I’m blessed with a plethora of smart, funny, and wickedly talented author friends—Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Gini Koch, Stephen Blackmore, Peter Clines, Margaret Dunlap, Lisa Morton, Gregory A. Wilson, Marie Bilodeau, John Scalzi—the list continues and I already feel terrible for the people I have not mentioned (there are so many). Every single one of them gives me something to aspire to. They are all shining examples of excellence in their field.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Jennifer Brozek: It may seem trite, but “write what you want to read.” Don’t chase markets. When you write what you want to read, you are guaranteed to please someone—yourself. I’ve earned the most acclaim on those things I want to write or edit. I won’t say what I did before then was bad, but I think the work lacked a sense of passion.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Jennifer Brozek: For me, it was the qwerty keyboard. I think it is the single most expensive peripheral I own. I love typing on it. I love how robust it is (I am not kind to keyboards) and I love its clicky sound. Enjoy the tools you use.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Jennifer Brozek: I always joke that the best part about being a writer is choosing which sixty hours of the week you work. In reality, I think it is the act of creation coupled with knowing that creation touches someone else. To hear that a young woman has read her signed copy of my book so much that it fell apart and she still refuses to get rid of it. And to hear people say “Thank you for your stories.” Those are the moments that make it all worth it.
Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Jennifer Brozek: The physical version of THE REINVENTED HEART anthology (edited with Cat Rambo) will be out at the end of May. The ebook is available now. Shadowrun: Unrepairable will be out at the end of 2022. That series begins with Shadowrun: A Kiss to Die For.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
Jennifer Brozek: I have a blog, and a monthly newsletter, and I’m most active on Twitter and Instagram. Though, Instagram is mostly cats. Also, I play in an Eberron game on Arvan Eleron’s Twitch channel twice a month.
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Jennifer Brozek’s Blog: http://www.jenniferbrozek.com/blog/