Roundtable Interview with Jennifer Brozek and Authors From Dangers Untold (Part Six)
Welcome to the Dangers Untold author/editor roundtable interview week! I asked Jennifer Brozek, the editor of Dangers Untold, along with several of the authors, some questions about their writing and editing, and we’ll be posting some of the answers from Monday until Saturday. If you’re just now joining, you can catch up on the rest at the Alliteration Ink blog.
On with today’s questions!
Do you have any formal training? Did you ever take courses in writing? Did they help?
Jennifer Brozek: No formal training but I did read a lot growing up. Now I take occasional seminars to get other people’s perspective on different aspects of the publishing industry. I learn stuff from my peers all the time and appreciate it. No writer or editor can live in a bubble. It is the world that helps them write better.
Erik Scott de Bie: I am largely a self-taught writer. I wrote my first long piece at age 13 (it was supposed to be 10 pages, and ended up being 50) and wrote my first novel at age 15. I’ve taken a grand total of three writing classes in my life, one when I was very young (I remember a couple really terrible stories I wrote), one community college class while I was in high school (mostly about writing essays but a little fiction, too), and once in college (after I’d already contracted my first professional novel). And yes, they were definitely helpful, but equally helpful is reading, practice, and more reading and practice. You can teach yourself—it just takes discipline.
Marty Young: I have a couple of Diplomas in Creative Writing, which I completed back in the mid-1990s before I got side-swiped by a career in Geology, and those have helped immensely, even in my science career. When I got back into creative writing in around 2002, I took a number of online workshops, and I still do. This past year, I’ve worked with Jeremy C Shipp, Gillian Polack, and Michael Knost. Each course has been different, each with their strengths and weaknesses, but all of them invaluable. I try to do about one course a year; not only do you constantly learn things but you also get to meet new folks and form new relationships.
David Price: Sure, I guess. I was an English major with a focus on writing at Salem State college way back when. Still, writing is one of those skills where practice makes perfect. Even if you practice, you should always be striving to learn and improve. I’m always reading books on writing or studying a new program. One of my favorites this year is one of the Great Courses, called “Building Great Sentences” by Professor Brooks Landon. I highly recommend it to every writer.
How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?
David Price: I’ll tell you after my book is published. I hope I can take it. Like I said, you can’t please everyone.
Erik Gustafson: So far so good. Bad reviews with constructive nuggets are the best. I learn from the bad reviews and grow as a writer. I never lash out or attack the reviewer, although I have seen plenty of writers attack their reviewers. Bad reviews are free advice from an expert (after all, since each review is subjective, that makes the person an expert!)
Erik Scott de Bie: I don’t read reviews of my books unless 1) a reviewer directly sends me a review or 2) one of my friends of colleagues tells me to check out a review. I love constructive feedback, but unfounded praise or unsupported negative opinions equally waste my time. If you really feel strongly about my work, I absolutely want to hear from you, but I want to hear *why* you feel that way (whether it’s positive or negative).
What inspires you?
Erik Gustafson: The possibility of twisting everyday life events and situation into something terrifying. I have always been fascinating with horror and getting scared. I used to love watching the lovely Rhonda Sheers on USA’s Up All Night showing cheesy B rate horror flicks. As far as writers, Edgar Allen Poe and Charlotte Perkins were two of my early favorites. I don’t know if Charlotte is horror, but her short story The Yellow Wallpaper really stuck with me. Powerful stuff. Of course, Stephen King and Peter Straub were big influences. I think my favorite Stephen King book is Salem’s Lot. Scared the crap out of me.
Now, I am inspired by the Indie revolution. I am learning as I go, the hard way, you know, but there are a lot of people in the various Facebook groups that are extremely helpful and take the time to answer questions and guide me. I am learning about not only the craft of writing, but also editing and cover design. Writing is the easy part of making a book ready to publish.
Thanks to David Price, Erik Gustafson, Erik Scott de Bie, Marty Young, and Jennifer Brozek for taking the time out of their schedules, and thanks to all of you for taking the time to hear what they had to say and for picking up a copy of Dangers Untold!
You can find Jennifer Brozek at her website, www.jenniferbrozek.com
You can find David Price at http://www.authorwebpage.com/davidprice/index.html.
You can find Erik Scott de Bie at his website, erikscottdebie.com
Marty Young is found at his website, martyyoung.com
Be sure to follow @alliterationink on Twitter to get the updates as they come through, or join our mailing list by sending an e-mail to news-join [at] alliterationink.com to make sure you don’t miss out on giveaways, contests, new releases, and open calls for submissions.
Several questions cribbed and modified from “Questions that authors are never asked” from the Guardian.