Featured Author: Jenean McBrearty – A World Unimagined

Jenean McBrearty

Left Hand Publisher Featured Author: Jenean McBrearty

Featured Author: Jenean McBrearty is a graduate of San Diego State University, who taught Political Science and Sociology. Her fiction, poetry, and photographs have been published in over two-hundred print and on-line journals. She won the Eastern Kentucky English Department Award for Graduate Creative Non-fiction in 2011, and a Silver Pen Award in 2015 for her noir short story: “Red’s Not Your Color.” Her novels and short story collections can be found on Amazon and Lulu.com.

Featured Author: Jenean McBrearty Interview

LHP: How long have you been writing?

Jenean McBrearty: From grammar school on, life prepared me and let me practice writing. From newspaper articles/columns to MA theses, to poetry, and stories and novels, I’ve written my whole life in one genre or another.
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LHP: What genre do you prefer to write in?

Jenean McBrearty: I choose the genre that lets me tell the story and/or express my ideas the best. Some stories are best conveyed by the terseness of poetry and flash-fiction; while some short stories transform into novels. The screen-play format is a nifty way to outline a story that’s easily embellished into a novel because it forces visualization of discrete scenes and characters.
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LHP: What/who inspired you to be a writer?

A World Unimagined, a sci-fi anthology by Left Hand Publishers
A World Unimagined, a sci-fi anthology by Left Hand Publishers

Jenean McBrearty: Death. Writing to me is my immortality project. Faith gives me solace as I contemplate the possibility of an afterlife, but knowing I’ll have an electronic existence as long as media exists makes me gloat… no one will know my enemies’ names, but billions of strangers may know mine. How’s that for sweet revenge? As to who? Oscar Wilde and Billy Wilder. I grew up in love with British humor and American noir. I call it “gritterary.”

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LHP: Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?

Jenean McBrearty: None of the above completely. I start with something I see, learn, or hear — maybe a smell or a line of dialog I like. For example, I just watched a video on the Cambridge 5 British spy ring. Since no one lives in a vacuum, I thought the effect their behavior might have down the line. In Hitchcockian tradition, I started a semi-thriller story, not about them, but about an American filmmaker contemplating his mistress’ connection to Communism. It’s not a plot, really, but it has direction. The characters don’t have names yet, but I know where they’re going. I’d say I’m an “impressionist” writer first.
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LHP: What is your daily/weekly routine as a writer?

Jenean McBrearty: I belong to Duotrope, so I get a weekly notification of markets and calls for submissions. I check my inventory, and see what fits. If I don’t have anything, and I like the topic, I’ll challenge myself to write something for that publication. The worst that can happen is that I add material to my inventory. I daily check my email for rejections/acceptances. Maybe I need to edit, etc. I get it done and get it back to the editor immediately. Sometimes, I write all day and all night, if I get on a roll. Sometimes, I just read and, I know this sounds weird, think about stuff. But, when there’s a deadline or word limit, I get on it and get it done. There’s a lot to be said for discipline over navel-gazing.

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LHP: Are there any software tools, resources, or websites you use often while writing?

Jenean McBrearty: I often use Wikipedia for quick and dirty information. For example, the day the Hindenburg crashed. I knew it was 1937, but I needed the day. I use free translation sites. I read a lot of history, and if I come across a name or people I don’t recognize or I think sound interesting, I’ll research it or them, but I don’t write “historical fiction” per se. The devil may be in the details, but so is angelic, on-point realism. For example, instead of describing the tack that holds the horse’s head down, I just say martingale and move on.
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LHP: What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?

A World Unimagined, a sci-fi anthology by Left Hand Publishers
A World Unimagined, a sci-fi anthology by Left Hand Publishers

Jenean McBrearty: Our PC. culture that limits ideas, free expression, and anything that might actually be artistic or have an emotional impact. It strikes me as hilarious when publications wax eloquent on how they want transgressive, brave, raw, realistic, and daring material and then list all the restrictions which reduce everything to the consistency of kittens eating oatmeal on a sunny day. It’s just silly. I ignore it.

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LHP: Do you have a set number of words per day you target? or do you set other goals to meet?

Jenean McBrearty: I have one goal. Get the story inside on paper. If it takes 300 or 30,000 words, just get started and finish it. Writing to me is a lot like engineering. I need a prototype to work from. Changes always come later, and that may include rewriting the entire piece.
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LHP: Do you prefer short stories or full length novels in your writing?

Jenean McBrearty: Again, it depends on the story. I’ve been told some of my short stories should be novel-length as they are packed solid, with “a lot going on.” I suppose it’s true for that reader or editor at least. The question for me is, whether I want to take the time to force a short story to become a novel or the reverse.
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LHP: How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?

Jenean McBrearty: It depends on the material. Some stories I write for a targeted publication I know it will be accepted based on the call for submissions. Sometimes my material is quirkier, more controversial, or deeper than what the general market will bear, so I have to be very particular about who submit it to. That takes more research.
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LHP: Can you give some us some insight into your story?

Jenean McBrearty: I have an on-going love affair with trains (That Time John Wayne Saw God, Training Tony, The Train to Discomfort) and I desperately want them to survive Star-Trek transporters. In this story, I wanted to show how strangers can form bonds, even though they come from different planets and have different agendas and they can’t do that unless they have time to connect. Zartie and Joshua do connect despite idiomatic and vocabulary challenges, because they share grief. It is, perhaps, the one experience all beings share before they eventually perish. Individual plots, peculiarities, and pettiness in culture disappear for them within the limitations of time (a ride down the coast) and space (a train car). When our space brethren arrive (soon I hope), we’ll have a great time learning about them.
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LHP: What advice can you give other writers?

Jenean McBrearty: I will share the advice I was given by Prof. Dean Johnson,”Write what you like. Sooner or later someone else will like it.” And a bit of my own: Keep your behind in the chair. If you’re working on the same novel three years after you start because you’re in a writing workshop, you’re socializing not writing. Which is great. But, if you want people to read what you write, you have to get it done, make it marketable, and submit, submit, submit.
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A World Unimagined

Jenean McBrearty recently authored “The Traveler” for A World Unimagined on sale now.