So I was minding my own business one day (literally and figuratively, because I work from home) – when Canada Post called me from downstairs. I’d been waiting for a shipment from Amazon, so I was all excited and stuff. I met him downstairs, and he put into my hands a box that was decidedly too big and too heavy for a CD version of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Legendary Edition. So I ran upstairs, tore the box open, and to my delight, there were five new books inside, each wrapped with a piece of paper saying “For Review”. The shipment was from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.
Naturally, I had to reach out and talk with all of the authors and editors and find out more about how these books came to be.
A little about Coins of Chaos, direct from the Edge website…
“During and after the great depression they were traded for food, sex, shelter, and power. Twenty of the seemingly ordinary nickles carved with dark representations of world evils and imbued with magical powers that transformed the deliciously macabre bits of lost art into carriers of death, destruction, and ill luck.
“Where these coins go, so does the Carver’s will. Each coin is filled with his malice and a desire for destruction.
“And with each life ruined… the Carver’s life goes on.
“Seventeen stories that tell the tale of the Carver’s legacy; of the coins designed for beauty now morphed into catalysts of pain.”
9 Day Wonder: Coins of Chaos is anthology based on stories about 20 hobo nickels, carved by a mysterious (and malicious) entity. As I did a little research before the interview, I learned that hobo nickels had been an actual thing. How did you first come to learn about these real-life coins?
Jennifer Brozek: A friend of mine posted about them, a skull face, on social media. I had never seen one before and was immediately enthralled. Of course, I went looking to learn about hobo nickels and discovered a rich but obscure history about them.
9DW: An anthology is a tricky thing to put together; some stories are collected by an open submission process, others by invite only. What was your strategy in this case? And what can you tell me about Apocalypse Ink Productions?
JB: In this case, per the publisher’s guidelines, I invited authors from the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA). Thus, it was a “closed” anthology.
Apocalypse Ink Productions is a small press house run that specializes in modern day dark speculative fiction and non-fiction books on writing in the internet age. It’s small – two owners and several freelance editors, artists, and minions. We’ve been around for less than 2 years.
9DW: I stumbled across the book trailer for Coins of Chaos, and I was wondering: how did that come to be? What was your role in bringing it about?
JB: The COINS OF CHAOS publishing company, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, put it together. I thought it was pretty spiffy when I saw it. I didn’t know the anthology was getting one until Janice showed it to me.
9DW: For a book of this size, I’m really impressed by the number of authors featured, most of whom I’m not familiar with. What have been some of your challenges, working with such a diverse group?
JB: Besides the formatting of stories from all different brands of OS? I think the biggest challenge was making sure that no one overlapped on story idea or story era. I wanted a sense of time through the ages for the coins. Other than that, there’s the usual of life happening, stories a little late, revisions needed. This anthology was actually pretty easy. The quality of the stories was really good.
9DW: And on the same note, have you worked with them before?
JB: I had worked with 10 of the 17 authors before. So, for more than half the anthology, I had an idea of my author’s writing style and work habits. Who would get the story done well early, who would need to be pushed to get the story in on time, who needed what kinds of edits. It’s always interesting, though, to work with new authors. That thrills me.
9DW: What’s the best way an anthology editor can help market a book like this, especially when your authors are scattered all over?
JB: I’m fond of the blog tour. Where the authors all talk about their stories or the anthology on consecutive days. Also, I liked EDGE’s mini-interview that put out a bit about each author on the way up to the release of the book. Most important I think, though, is word-of-mouth recommendations and reviews. I encourage people who compliment the anthology to write a small blurb for me or in the reviews on Amazon.
9DW: I have a friend who wants to put together an anthology as well. Collecting and editing the stories, he knows how to do, but how do you propose a project like this to a publishing house like Edge?
JB: I actually wrote a book about this: Industry Talk: An Insider’s Look at Writing RPGs and Editing Anthologies. It is one of the five questions I always get about anthologies. The short version is to write a one-page proposal with the appropriate information (Title, Genre, Logline, Synopsis, Editor[s], Attached Authors, and Budget), then research the publishing house that does that kind of anthology. Then pitch it. Obviously, I have a lot more to say about it in the book but that’s basically what it is.
9DW: What strategy have you (and crew!) found that works best for getting reviews?
JB: Knowing someone on the review staff of the magazine you want to review the book. *smile* Barring that, free ebooks to known reviewers who enjoy the kind of book you’ve created or enjoy the genre you’ve worked in. Also, I occasionally give away free books on social media.
9DW: A quick browse of your bio tells me that you’re also a writer for several role playing game companies. Although I don’t play myself, I have a lot of readers who are very much into RPGs – who also happen to writers. Can you tell me about what it is you do as a freelance author for RPG companies?
JB: What I used to do for RPGs was to write the world or supplement book. Now, I mostly edit RPG books or I write tie-in fiction. When you write for an RPG—as a worldbuilder or fiction writer—you are working in someone else’s sandbox and you need to remember that. You are there to enhance the created world, not to drastically change it. You need to carefully think through the consequences of what you create in a play setting. I enjoy the challenge.
Jennifer Brozek is an award winning editor, game designer, and author.
Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited ten anthologies with more on the way. Author of In a Gilded Light, The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting, Industry Talk, and the Karen Wilson Chronicles, she has more than fifty published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.
Jennifer also is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of both the Origins and the ENnie award, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS. Jennifer is also the author of the long running Battletech webseries, The Nellus Academy Incident.
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 www.jenniferbrozek.com or follow her on Twitter at @JenniferBrozek.