Interview with author Jenna Bennett
It is a pleasure to welcome Jenna Bennett (Jennie Bentley), who is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and the Savannah Martin real estate mysteries for her own gratification. She also writes a variety of romance for a change of pace, including the award-winning Soldiers of Fortune science fiction series.
Welcome Jenna to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl and thanks so much for taking the time out your busy schedule to talk about your Soldiers of Fortune series.
What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify?
The books in the series (so far) are Fortune’s Hero and Fortune’s Honor.
The Good Fortune is a space freighter whose crew was arrested for ferrying weapons to the insurgents on a planet called Marica, which is under siege by Rhenian forces, the military from a neighboring planet called Rhene. The Rhenians are afraid of invasion into their nexus through a wormhole in Marican space, and because Marica is a poor, agricultural planet without much in the way of defensive forces, they’ve decided they ought to go in and ‘protect’ Marica.
Fortune’s Hero is Quinn, the captain of the Good Fortune. When the first book starts, he’s captive in the prison colony on the moon Marica-3, being put to the question. He escapes, and then spends the rest of the book trying to figure out how to get back into the prison to get the rest of his crew out.
And Fortune’s Honor is about the ship’s translator, a young man named Holden Sinclair. In the second book, the crew has made it downside to the planet Marica. Holden comes across Quinn’s old girlfriend, who was the one who betrayed them to the Rhenians in the first place, and has to make a decision about whether to leave her in the bad place she’s in, or help her get away.
Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you? If so, give a few examples…
Not to me personally, but I do think about the meaning of the names when I name my characters. Quinn’s last name is Conlan – Irish – which means hero. Holden Sinclair’s last name means clear and bright. Elsa Brandeis is Quinn’s love interest in Book 1, and her last name is made up of Brand and Eis, which means Fire and Ice in a combination of Northern European/Germanic languages. Quinn calls her the Ice Bitch, until he gets to know her.
What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?
That’s a long story…
Back in February of 2010, I was a member of a group blog called The Working Stiffs. It was mostly a group of mystery writers, which is mostly what I am.
One of our members was named Wilfred Bereswill, and he loved to write short fiction. I, on the other hand, can’t write anything short, and Will knew it. For February 2010, he challenged us all to a flash fiction contest: write a complete story in 200 words. (He told me later he made it 200 instead of 100 because he knew at 100, I’d simply refuse to try.)
Nobody else seemed to have a problem, and I’m nothing if not competitive, so I kept at it until I had something resembling a complete story that was exactly 200 words. (I had to massage it to get there. It was more when I first wrote it.) And for some reason, it was about this guy sitting in a prison on the outer edge of the back-beyond of space, wanting to die. I had never considered writing SF before – although I do occasionally read it – but that’s the character that came into my mind for the story.
Funnily enough, when we posted the stories on the blog and invited the readers to guess who had written what story, everyone thought Will had written mine.
I didn’t do anything more with it for six months or so, but Quinn kept popping into my head every so often. He had a story he wanted me to tell, and he wasn’t about to be quiet until I did. I finally gave in.
I eventually sold the series to a publisher as a four-book series, so I got the last laugh after all. I really can’t write anything short.
Will passed away a couple of years ago, very suddenly, but not before the first book was released, and dedicated to him.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?
Having a sense of humor, I guess. It’s pretty important for survival in any situation, whether as a writer or not. And yes, the first book is full of gallows humor. Quinn knows he probably won’t survive, isn’t even sure he wants to survive, but he manages to find the humor in the situations he’s in anyway.
What makes you laugh?
I’m a typical writer. I love word puns. 🙂
What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?
I’m really not an SF writer, so I had research space and space ships and physics and all sorts of things like that. Boring stuff. I’d much rather just write a story about people, you know? People are the interesting things.
What are you a fan of and is this reflected in your writing?
I’m a huge fan of Lois McMaster Bujold, so there are similarities to her books. And while I wouldn’t say I’m a fan, I grew up in Europe, where the memories of WWII were still alive and well while I was a girl. My parents lived through it, and so did several of my teachers. My mother would get very uncomfortable every time the air raid siren would go off, even though she knew they were just testing to make sure the sirens still worked. I had blackout curtains on my windows into the 1970s and 80s. We used them as roller shades at night. As a result of growing up with constant reminders of The War, the Rhenians have some distinctly Nazi-like traits. A lot of what I write deals with racial prejudice in some way, and this series is no exception. I also like things like real estate and architecture – former real estate agent – so all my books are full of descriptions of buildings.
There’s supposed to be two more books in the series: Fortune’s Hope and Fortune’s Hour. The first is about Toby Flatt, the Good Fortune’s mechanic, and the last about Isaac Miller, a mercenary who’s been riding with the crew for a couple of years, keeping them safe. They’re long and complicated books to write, though, so it’ll probably take me a couple of years to get there, in between the mysteries. After that, I have an idea for a romantic suspense sort of story set on a space station (most likely) in a different universe than this one, but who knows if I’ll ever get around to writing it. Too many ideas, not enough time.
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Again, thank you Jenna for answering these questions and helping us to become better acquainted with both the Soldiers of Fortune series and yourself.
For more information about Jenna Bennett, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or visit her website, www.jennabennett.com, which includes additional information on the Soldiers of Fortune series.
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