Award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer, Jennifer Brozek has spent over a decade doing what she loves most: writing about interesting worlds with unique characters and creatures. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.
I’m an award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer. I have four cats, one husband, 1500 books, and no children—just the way I like it. An avid reader and sometimes crocheter, I enjoy playing ARGs (like Ingress and PokemonGO) and tabletop RPGs—current favorites are Pathfinder, D&D 5E, and Shadowrun. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am both a Pluviophile (a lover of rain) and a Gluggaveður (a lover of window weather). My favorite words are: Peril and Thwart. I just really like the sound of them. One of my goals in life is to eventually live on a bluff by the ocean. Probably in Oregon.
When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote casually for my RPG characters in the 1990s. I started writing to get paid in 2000. I got serious about it in 2004. Then I quit my tech job to become a full-time author in 2006. I wrote then and I write now because I have stories to tell. I’ve written for free. I’ve written for pay. I always write for joy. Joy + pay = a good life.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think it was when I was hired to write on the Dragonlance sourcebooks: Legends of the Twins and Holy Order of Stars. That’s when I started writing fiction to someone else’s schedule. I met my editor, Sean Everette, on a text-based RPG game. He ended up hiring me to write for his magazine. When he was hired by Margaret Weis as an editor for her company (Sovereign Stone at the time), he brought me along because he liked my writing and knew I could hit my deadlines.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
It’s called BattleTech: Iron Dawn. It is book one in the Rogue Academy trilogy. This is the first YA BattleTech trilogy from Catalyst Game Labs. It’s about a pair of orphaned siblings who won their way into the Ritza Academy on the Federated Suns border planet of Emporium, and what they decide to do when the Draconis Combine come to invade. Jasper Roux is a MechWarrior cadet while Nadine Roux is an infantry/tanker cadet.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was asked by Catalyst Game Labs if I’d be interested in writing a YA trilogy for them. They wanted a high action YA series that could bring younger heroes to a new audience. I wrote the first ever BattleTech YA novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, back in 2014. It was well received and won a Scribe Award for the best YA tie-in for that year. After some brainstorming, we came up with an idea I was excited to write. It is a bombastic coming-of-age-while-at-war story. It’s about the relationships between people, the family we’re born to and the family we choose. Also, there’s a lot of ’Mech-on-’Mech battles.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I try to write page-turners. Sparse but evocative location descriptions and body language to convey emotion. I’ve been writing long enough to understand that I still have a lot to learn—and I learn more with every novel I write. I start in media res (in the middle of the action) and try to end every chapter on a mini-cliffhanger; the metaphorical equivalent of a man bursting into the room with a gun.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
I was looking to recreate the feeling of the military/invasion movies from my past (child of the 80s) like Iron Eagle and Red Dawn. I ended up merging the names because “Iron Dawn” seemed to evoke the beginning of something in a military sense. It also fit well within the Rogue Academy trilogy’s sense of time. Book two is called Ghost Hour while book three is called Crimson Night.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Sometimes you need to act when everyone tells you not to. Sometimes you do know better… or at least what’s right, but you can’t go it alone. Think, consider, then act.
A lot of the time, adults are faking it. They don’t know what they’re doing any more than teens do, but they also have the added complication of being in charge and being responsible for the people in their care. It’s why, a lot of times, it seems like adults refuse to listen to their children or the teenagers they are responsible for. They feel they can’t shirk their duty or show fear.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The sibling fights. Sometimes, siblings fight just because it’s what they’re used to doing. At the same time, family is often the one thing you can rely on to back you up. As a military brat, I moved around a lot and the only stability I had was my siblings. They were familiar—both friend and foe. Above all, they were family.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
My goodness. What a list. Neil Gaiman, Mercedes Lackey, Steve Perry, Seanan McGuire, Stephen King, Susan Cooper, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Scalzi, Cat Rambo, Annie Bellet… the list doesn’t stop. Each of them brings something to the table for me: a writing technique, the lyrical phrase, effortless worldbuilding, cliffhanger chapter endings, distinct voices, and amazing storytelling. I learn something from every novel, novella, and short story I read.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
Susan Cooper and her Dark is Rising series. If I had not read that as a lonely ten-year-old in a foreign land, I don’t think I would be an author today. Her series opened my eyes to the magic of reading and writing. I reread that series about once a year.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
The cover artist is Marco Mazzoni. He was assigned to the novel cover by the BattleTech Line Developer and based it on my art notes. He did a marvelous job. As an aside, there is another Marco Mazzoni who is an artist, lives in Italy, and does beautiful pencil work. That’s not this Marco Mazzoni who lives in America and illustrates a lot of BattleTech games and novels.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You may take parts of the journey at a neck-break pace, but there will be hills, mountains even, that you’ll struggle with—plodding (and plotting) as slow as molasses. Just remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other, one word after the other, and breathe. As long as you’re still moving you’re doing the right thing. Also, write the stories you want to read. I always do my best work when I’m excited and interested in the story I’m writing.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading what I write. I appreciate it and you.
BattleTech: Iron Dawn