Pacific Northwest Haunts: Jennifer Brozek comes in out of the rain!
Author, editor, Pacific Northwesterner! Jennifer Brozek is the winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication. She’s the editor for ten anthologies (and more no doubt are cooking as we speak). With over fifty published short stories and a host of novels including The Karen Wilson Chronicles, Jennifer is a Pacific Northwestern tour de force! We had a chance to talk between the raindrops during the cold and wet month of January around here…
1) Discuss the pros/ cons/ struggles/ challenges of being a woman in the largely male-dominated field of horror.
I can only speak from my experiences. In truth, I have not had a lot of problems being a woman in the horror field. I don’t know if that’s because I’m an editor as well as a writer. I do know I work very hard to fit into my preferred markets. Face-to-face, I’ve never had anyone disparage my writing ability because I’m a woman. This might be due to the fact that I’m not a popular enough writer, yet, and my turn is coming.
When I edit an anthology, I made an effort to invite an equal number of female authors as I do male authors. From there, it comes down to the stories themselves. Then again, it’s not just male versus female. I make an effort to include a diverse group of people as I can. I like different points of view.
2) You are both a writer and an editor. How do these dual roles impact your work? Do you write with an editor’s mind and edit with a writer’s eye?
I write as a writer and I edit as an editor. I won’t say that one does not affect the other but I keep them as separate jobs. As a writer, I write what I want to read. I work from that point of view. I keep the door closed (so to speak) until I am done. I have a writer’s process and a writer’s neurosis.
Then, when it comes to editing my own work, I edit as an editor, pulling on the skills I learned as a slush reader (get into the story quick), and copy editor (where are the logical holes), and as a line editors (read the work out loud to find dropped words).
However, when it comes to editing someone else’s work, I need to stuff the “writer me” in the closet and only edit the words, letting the other author’s voice come through. That is probably the hardest part about being both an author and an editor.
3) The Dangers Untold anthology was a special project in conjunction with the Horror Society. Tell us how that project evolved.
The founder of the Horror Society, Scott M. Goriscak, approached me a couple weeks before he announced the project to the group. He asked me if I would be interested in editing an anthology for the group. We talked about it and I agreed. He gave me full creative control.
I decided that I wanted to produce an anthology of unusual monsters. No vampires, werewolves, zombies. Nothing standard. Once he agreed to that, the title was easy. Dangers Untold is part of a quote from the movie, Labyrinth. “Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered…”
After that, it was a matter of having the open call, finding a small press publisher, and cover art. The open call was more difficult than I’m used to because the Horror Society is filled with horror professionals—not just horror authors—and many, while having good ideas, needed to be coached into excellent stories.
Everything else was easy. Alliteration Ink has been an amazing publisher to work with. And Shane Tyree, a cover artist I had worked with before, already had a piece of art I wanted to license. I lucked out with that.
4) Caller Unknown is your latest project. It’s a unique collection of short stories as they are all from a single character’s point of view. What inspired this approach? Tell us more about this very different format for a novel.
Originally, Caller Unknown was a webseries for the webzine the Edge of Propinquity under the name “Kendrick.” It ran for three years. Each year had a theme. The first year’s theme was revelations and that is what Caller Unknown is based on. When I decided to publish it, I changed the title to Caller Unknown, hired John Helfers to edit it, and commissioned the cover art from Amber Clark of Stopped Motion Photograpy.
I’ve been told that this type of novel is called a “mosaic novel” because of its format of individual short stories with an overall story arc. This is one of those happy accidents where something that I did turned out to be an established format. With the growing popularity of e-readers, serialized novels and mosaic novels are coming back into vogue.
5) Does the Pacific Northwest impact your writing? For some it’s integral to their work. Others… not so much!
I adore the Pacific Northwest and its cloudy skies. I think it does help my writing. It’s hard to write creepy, atmospheric stories when it is sunny and impossibly beautiful—which the Pacific Northwest can be. Also, we have an amazingly rich history in this area to ping ideas off of. It is easy for me to be creative and inspired here. I love it.
Also, the entire Karen Wilson Chronicles is my love letter to the supernatural Pacific Northwest that could be.
You find more on Jennifer and her work at Wordslinger & Optimist!