Jennifer Brozek is a freelance author for many RPG companies including Margaret Weis Productions, Rogue Games and Catalyst Game Labs. Her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity and White Wolf SAS. She has also co-authored three books including Dragonvarld Adventures with Margaret Weis. Author of In a Gilded Light (Dark Quest Books, 6/2010), she is published in several anthologies, is the creator and editor of the semiprozine, The Edge of Propinquity, and is a submissions editor for the Apex Book Company. When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is a member of Broad Universe, SFWA and HWA. She also blogs on a regular basis on LiveJournal – http://jennifer-brozek.livejournal.com
Jennifer contributed “Cost of Job Security” to the Masters of Horror Anthology. I asked her some questions about writing and inspiration.
Where did you come up with the idea for the story in the anthology?
My husband and I were at GenCon in 2008. Our hotel was connected to the convention center but only through the intervening mall. Late one night, we headed back to our hotel to discover that while the door between the convention center and the mall was open, the door between the mall and the hotel was closed and locked. By the time we got back to the convention center, that door was also closed and locked. My husband, being the intrepid sort led me through the “employees only” back halls to find an exit. The contrast between the shiny stores and the dingy back hallways suck with me. Eventually, “The Cost of Job Security” blossomed in my mind.
What is it about your main character that you like? Dislike?
In my mind, the main character in this story is Mark, the head security guard. He’s worked at the mall for years and he knows that the mall consumes someone 4-5 times a year. I like the fact that he has made peace with his situation. In his mind, he really has no other choice. All he knows is that his mall eats people and while he works there, he is safe. What I don’t like is the fact that he is not willing to go beyond that. Part of me thinks of him as someone who gives up easily. Then again, it is hard to combat something as esoteric as a mall that eats people.
What made you write a horror story?
I am the kind of author who writes my demons away. If something bothers me, I write a story about it. Once on the page, whatever was bothering me leaves me alone. I also like to write out “what if” stories. As it happens, I have a very twisted sense of the world. I can see monsters in everyday things.
What inspires you in your writing?
Literally everything. It is hard to answer this question in a meaningful way. In my forthcoming collection, In a Gilded Light: 105 Tales of the Macabre (Dark Quest Books, May 2010), I put down my inspiration for the story at the bottom. Everything from a late handyman to a song to a bowl of soup to a detour sign inspired me to write a story.
How long have you been writing?
Professionally and getting paid for it? 6 or 7 years. But I’ve been writing stories for much longer than that. I started with RPG reviews, moved into magazine fiction and RPG world building and now I do fiction, editing, RPG world building and anything else that catches my fancy.
Why do you write?
Why does anyone do anything? I write because I love to write and because I have stories to tell.
What horror books / authors do you like / respect / admire?
The top of my list of favorite authors are Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. I want to become their literary unholy love child. Following them is a plethora of authors: Steve Perry (Matadora series), Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas series), Seanan McGuire (Toby Daye series), Cherie Priest (Eden Moore series), Michael Moorcock (Elric series) and the list goes on. Between my husband and me, we own well over a thousand books. Also, Ellen Datlow is a favorite editor of dark/horror anthologies.