Today I am interviewing Jennifer Brozek, author of the new Arkham Horror novella, To Fight the Black Wind.
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DJ: Hi Jennifer! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Jennifer Brozek: Thank you for having me. I am an award winning tie-in author, editor, RPG designer, and small press publisher. I’ve worked in the publishing industry since 2004, starting as an RPG designer. I leveled up to a published author in 2005, as an editor in 2009, and as a small press publisher in 2012. These days, I mostly write original fiction and tie-in fiction as well as edit anthologies.
DJ: What is To Fight the Black Wind about?
Jennifer: This is the origin story for the Arkham Horror character psychologist Carolyn Fern. More than that, it is a deep dive into the mind of Josephine Ruggles and into the Dreamlands from Mythos universe. While trying to cure Josephine of her delusions, Dr. Fern discovers that some delusions more real than others and that the world isn’t as solid or as stable as she thought it was.
DJ: What were some of your influences for To Fight the Black Wind?
Jennifer: As To Fight the Black Wind is set within the Lovecraft universe, the Lovecraft stories with their lush prose and extensive descriptions influenced me. But modern day authors like Seanan McGuire, Ken Scholes, Ruthanna Emrys, and Silvia Morena- Garcia also inspire me with their excellent command of the language and intriguing stories. While drafting To Fight the Black Wind, I discovered the myth of the three fates–Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos–leant itself well to the story I was writing. The three main characters within the novella take on aspects of these three legendary women.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters?
Jennifer: Carolyn Fern is a psychologist and a pioneer into the art and science of hypnotherapy. She was specifically requested by heiress Josephine Ruggles to help her when the rest of the doctors in the asylum turned their back on her plight.
The two women are complementary opposites: Carolyn is a doctor who worked her way to her position. Josephine, a well- educated, well-to-do young woman who has never wanted for anything. Now that she’s beset by dreams that cause physical wounds, she needs Carolyn’s help. Together, they discover that nothing is what it seems and no destiny is written in stone.
DJ: What is the world Dreamlands and setting of To Fight the Black Wind like?
Jennifer: There are two main settings: the real world and the Dreamlands. In the real world, Carolyn treats Josephine in the Arkham Asylum–a dismal place for the lost and mentally ill. While the other doctors in the asylum have declared the heiress to be nothing more than a “hysterical” woman who self-harms to gain attention, Carolyn recognizes that there is more going on. She uses hypnotherapy in an attempt to get to the heart of the matter.
This draws both Josephine and Carolyn deep into the Lovecraftian realm of the Dreamlands where Josephine is the stronger of the two in dream logic and where Carolyn reluctantly discovers that facts and logic do not rule all. From talking cats to flying monsters to a book with a will of its own, Carolyn fights madness in an effort to rid Josephine of the dark secret she’s held for much of her young life.
DJ: This may have skipped some reader’s attentions, but To Fight the Black Wind is actually a novella. It seems to me that novella is gaining a rise is popularity again: what is it about the novella format that you like? Do you feel there is a particular advantage to telling your story that way over the novel?
Jennifer: As both a reader and a writer, I love the novella format. It gets you to heart of the story and focuses in on it. As a writer, there is a certain relief and joy to the shorter format. It doesn’t mean the language isn’t as lush, just economical in its approach. Personally, I believe the rise of e-readers is what has heralded the return of the novella. As a reader, it is the perfect choice for the electronic format when a short story is too short and the novel is too long. You can breathe into the story without padding it. It allows for a more complex and compelling story without trapping the reader into an endlessly complex maze of twisting subplots.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing To Fight the Black Wind?
Jennifer: Honestly, it was the outlining process with my editor, Katrina. She is the most technical fiction editor I’ve worked with. She challenged me to keep to the character arcs and the themes of the novella. She made me look at every single section and defend why I wanted it in the work. She made what would’ve been a good story into a stellar one. I appreciated it. Once the outline was done, the actual writing of the novella was easy.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Jennifer: I hope they talk about what a good origin story it is. That it makes playing the character of Carolyn Fern that much more fun. Plus there is one scene involving the discovery of a particular book that makes me grin.
DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing To Fight the Black Wind?
Jennifer: I wanted to write a woman-centric Lovecraftian Mythos story where the women are neither monsters nor helpless. One of the biggest problems in the original Lovecraft universe is its racist and misogynistic point-of-view. I wanted capable women–both white and of color–to encounter the Lovecraftian world with all its dangers, magic, temptations, and horrors and to meet them head- on. To fight the good fight. To go a little crazy and to come out the other side with more knowledge and a greater understanding of their world.
DJ: Do you have any favorite quotes from To Fight the Black Wind that you can share with us?
Jennifer: “The scales have fallen from my eyes and I am changed forever.” ~ Carolyn Fern
DJ: Now that To Fight the Black Wind is released, what is next for you?
Jennifer: I have several novels in the works including a Shadowrun novel called Makeda Red, and the first of a YA BattleTech trilogy called Rogue Academy: Iron Dawn. I will continue with my short fiction and, as always, continue to experiment with different mediums. I have a dark urban fantasy podcast out called Five Minute Stories and an all-ages science- fantasy comic book called The Prince of Artemis V.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Brozek/e/B0031SXNCU/
Author Newsletter: https://groups.google.com/forum/m/?hl=en#!forum/jenniferbrozek
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Jennifer: Thank you!
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*** To Fight the Black Wind is published by Fantasy Flight Games and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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NOT ALL PATIENTS CAN BE CURED—OR WANT TO BE.
Visiting psychologist Carolyn Fern’s newest patient is Josephine Ruggles, an heiress whose nightmares leave glyph-shaped wounds across her back. Miss Ruggles’s case is unusual, even for an institution like Arkham Sanatorium. Her case takes an even stranger turn after she claims to have met Malachi—Carolyn’s former patient whose treatment was cut short when he was brutally murdered—in her dreams. When Carolyn uses hypnotherapy to address Josephine’s trauma, they find themselves both journeying to a strange place Josephine calls “the Dreamlands.”
Together, Carolyn and Josephine discover that the mind is a powerful tool, but knowledge is dangerous. What is learned cannot be unlearned, and not everyone is prepared to pay the price.
About the Author:
Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award finalist and a multiple Bram Stoker Award finalist. Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited sixteen anthologies with more on the way, including the acclaimed Chicks Dig Gaming and Shattered Shields anthologies. Author of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, Industry Talk, the Last Days of Salton Academy, and the acclaimed Melissa Allen series, she has more than seventy published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.
Jennifer is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of the Scribe, Origins, and ENnie awards, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS. Jennifer is the author of the award winning YA BattleTech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, and Shadowrun novella, Doc Wagon 19. She has also written for the AAA MMO, Aion, and the award winning videogame, Shadowrun Returns.
When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is an active member of SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW. Read more about her at jenniferbrozek.com or follow her on Twitter at @JenniferBrozek.