I just finished J.B. Rockwell’s Serengeti, and a day later I am still in awe and blown away. We planned an interview and this is the time to do it! You’ll learn a little about Serengeti and then learn more about her as an author. Sit back and enjoy and DEFINITELY go BUY Serengeti!
Let’s start with a bit about Serengeti
C. What was your inspiration for Serengeti?
J.B. – Ha! I got asked this in my recent Author Spotlight on Reddit Books (/r/books: https://www.reddit.com/r/books/comments/4835b6/hi_everyone_im_jb_rockwell_author_of_serengeti_a/) Serengeti started from a single line: “She dreamed of dying–of dying, but never of death.” That line came to me one day but I didn’t know what to do with it, so I tucked it away for a while until this idea of a dying spaceship came to me. SERENGETI was just a short story called INFINITY then–one I got published in the INFINITE SCIENCE FICTION ONE anthology–but a few people mentioned they want more so…voila! The short story became a book!
C. I loved every part but had a particular liking for a few cute robots, who or what Inspired their characters?
J.B. – WALL-E (obviously) and the tank robots from Ghost in the Shell, a little bit of R2D2. The rest is a hodge-podge of robots from anime and books and movies, and dreams of snarky but cute AIs.
C- I know you’ve said you didn’t mean to make somd readers cry, but what is your reaction to that? I mean I cried!!
J.B. – I’m proud on the one hand–shows I struck a chord and invested the story with a lot of emotion–and apologetic on the other. I wanted the story to be impactful and for the reader to feel Serengeti’s struggle but I honestly didn’t mean to make you guys cry.
C- What do you want your readers to know about this book?
J.B. – I wasn’t sure hard core sci-fi fans would take to it. An AI warship as the main character was a gamble. A female AI warship as the main character was a gamble. And then there’s the fact that it starts out all pew-pew-pew space battles and then changes and becomes very close and personal. I worried people would like the first part and ditch the book when they hit the second. From the reviews, they got it though, and love Serengeti every bit as much as I do.
C – I hear Serengeti is coming to audio, can you tell us about that process? Voice actors and such?
J.B. – Yes! Tantor Audio just bought the rights. They have a hundred or do voice narrators in their catalogue and sent me samples of a few they selected for SERENGETI. Elizabeth Wiley was my favorite and first choice. Luckily I got her and the audio book is scheduled to be out on April 26, 2016.
Go get Serengeti today!
Now more interview!! 🙂 WOOHOO!!
C – What’s your current project? Tell us a little about it.
J.B. – A sequel to SERENGETI! I’m still finalizing the name so we’ll just call it SERENGETI II for now. I don’t want to give too much away, but it picks up where SERENGETI left off and answers some of the unanswered questions readers have been asking about
C – What has been your favorite scene to write so far?
J.B. – The TWO flashback scenes with Serengeti and Henricksen. I loved showing the two of them together, just talking one on one, being very open and honest with each other when the crew aren’t around. I wrote them both in one sitting, didn’t even need to edit them.
C – Who or what has inspired your writing?
J.B. – So many writers–far too many to count. Pretty much every book I’ve read has influenced my writing, even the bad ones. But I’d say the works of C.J. Cherryh and Neal Asher influenced my own style and content the most. And my Dad. He introduced me to sci-fi and fantasy, and the first books I read were from his personal collection.
C- What is your biggest goal with your writing?
J.B. – To keep improving and coming up with fresh ideas. I’d love to land a big 6 publishing contract someday, quit the day job and write for a living but that’s a long shot. Right now I’m just happy promoting SERENGETI. I’d also like to qualify for the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA). That would make me feel all writerly and official.
C- Do you have any pre-writing rituals?
J.B. – Nah. I’m not really into the whole ritual thing. I usually only have time to write on the weekends so I run, eat, grab myself a hot drink and settle down to pound away at the keys.
C – What is the weirdest location you’ve ever written at?
J.B. – A bike race. My husband races as a Cat 1 cyclist and I print off my work sometimes and edit it while waiting in the feed zone (usually a thin strip of grass on the side of some road) for him to come by for a drink.
C- How do you handle writer’s block?
J.B. – I go for a walk or a run–anything that involves getting outside and away from a computer. Nine times out of ten that helps me shake things loose and figure out where to go. And if it doesn’t, I got outside and got some fresh air. Win-win!
C – How much research was involved in your latest piece and how did you tackle it?
J.B. – Not much. That’s what I like about speculative fiction: it’s all about imagination, picking and choosing from things you know and have been exposed to and bringing them all together. Most of my research was for the science details (distances in space, how close you’d need to be to a star to get much energy out of it, that kind of thing) and even then I had back-up in the form of kickass beta reader and fellow author Mike Kalar who helped clean up my science fails.
C- Are you a panser or a plotter?
J.B. – I’m a total pantser (which autocorrect always tries to change to ‘panther’). I have huge respect for people who outline everything up front but that just doesn’t work for me. I figure out the major plot points, how it begins and how it ends, and then I just crack my knuckles and start typing, figure it all out as I go along.
C- What has been your biggest learning experience so far in your career?
J.B. – I published a couple of books with another small publisher and the experience was…disappointing. I learned a ton about what not to do from that publisher and also leveled up my editing powers because they really didn’t provide much of anything. Ultimately that entire experience really helped me. Now I’m trying to use what I learned to help others.
C- Is there anything you wish you were told prior to writing or publishing?
J.B. – Yes! Many things, starting with Just how many authors are out there trying to get published and how long everything takes in publishing. I was so naive when I started out and thought it would all be so easy. I could have saved my self a lot of frustration if I knew more before I started. On the other hand, if I had known, I might never have started writing…
C- What’s next for you?
J.B. – Finish SERENGETI II! I’m also writing a few short stories and trying to get those published. Short stories are fun and a great break from novel writing. They also help expand your fan base and reach new readers.
C- What do you like best about writing scifi?
J.B. – The creativity of it. Technology is advancing so rapidly that literally anything is possible. Sci-fi lets you see new worlds and new peoples, imagine fantastical spaceships and super-powered beings. Whatever future you want or fear can be yours in just a few pages. Plus spaceships and pew-pew-pew!
C- Is there another genre you have tried writing?
J.B. I’ve written fantasy, light horror and steampunk. All are fun and creative but I think my sci-fi work is my best, and the stories I mist enjoy.
C – Have you taken any writing classes? If so, share those experiences
J.B. – No. Not one. I’d like to someday so I don’t feel like I’m always faking it but right now my writing is all trial and error and learned from practicing and observing.
C- Is there any talent or skill you wish you were better at within the writing/publishing process?
J.B. – I REALLY wish I could draw so I could do concept art and such to go with my books. I have zero artistic skill, but luckily I have a couple of graphic artist friends I can call on for designs. Check out the Crowhammer tab on my website for instance (http://www.jenniferbrockwell.com/crowhammer-chronicles.html). My friend Jenny Haines drew that beautiful otter pic based on a character I developed for a series of short stories.
C- Have your parents read your work?
J.B. – My mom isn’t into speculative fiction, so no. My Dad read my first ever book (part of the fantasy trilogy I mentioned) but sadly he passed away a year and a day before SERENGETI was published so he never got to read it. I think he would have liked it, though, and SERENGETI will always remind me of him.
C- What made you decide to traditional publish?
J.B – I’m lazy 🙂 Self-publishing is a TON of work between editing and cover design, marketing, etc. and I just didn’t think I could do it all on my own. Traditional publishing takes care of a lot of that or at least helps out and I really like having that support and distribution structure backing me. I know writers who have been VERY successful self-publishing, though, so that’s not a route to rule out.
C- What scares you the most?
J.B. – Running out of ideas. A typical adult spec fic book is 90,000 to 100,000 and that’s a lot of plot to work out and make interesting. Each time I finish a book I wonder if I’ll ever have another good idea again.
C- Have you ever acted out a scene to see if it worked? Share a funny or embarrassing story about acting it out.
J.B. – ALL THE TIME. My husband makes fun of me because I’ll be typing along and then stop dead and start waving my hands and making funny faces as I try to act out what’s going on in the scene. Luckily I’ve never done this in public but my cats do look annoyed and disgusted at times…
C – Which poets or authors have influenced you in your own writing?
J.B. – C.J. Cherryh and Neal Asher without a doubt. Also Elizabeth Bear and Ursula Le Guin. Plus my Inkbot buddies in my writing group all of whom are awesome in their own way. We swap beat reads, share successes and frustrations and make each other better writers just by interacting. INKBOTS FOR LIFE!
What a great interview!! 🙂 Thank you!