Jan Brenner has co-authored all of Hopscotch Press’ books. Although she received a B.A. in English from UC Berkeley, she backed into writing only after spending ten years in social work and four in publishing. Along the way she got a couple of other degrees which have never been put to official use. A lifelong dilettante, she’s quasi-conversant in 3.1 languages, dabbles in domestic pursuits, and travels whenever she gets the chance.
Contact Jan regarding: editorial issues.
Domestic status: Single, but not averse to changing my status.
Extracurricular activities: Working out (I probably shouldn’t list this first as I’m exercising less and less), doing acrostics, reading—especially mysteries, and squeezing as much travel as I can into every year.
Guilty pleasures: Sigh, watching Chinese period soap operas. Ah, those elaborate costumes…the drama and intrigue in the Forbidden City…the often amusing and sometimes ridiculous English subtitles (yeah, they probably don’t pay those translators a lot)…
Celebrity I would most like to have a conversation with: For some reason Adrian Brody comes to mind. Don’t ask me why—maybe it was his piano playing in The Pianist. But now that I’m thinking about it, I’m sure that Viggo Mortensen would be intriguing, and then there’s Helen Mirren and Isabelle Huppert…
Favorite way to wind down after a hard day: Walk around Lake Merritt. It’s incredibly calming to spend an hour taking in the light reflecting off the lake, the color of the sky, the zillions of birds and squirrels that hang out here, and the endless variety of people doing exactly what I’m doing.
New Year’s resolution: I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.
Marriage advice from the trenches: Although I’m not married, I’ve certainly observed a lot a relationships and I’d say the reason most of them don’t work as well as they might is communication problems. Learn how to listen to and talk to your partner and you’ve got a much better chance of marital success. Hey, if everyone knew how to do this, Dr. Phil would be out of a job! Premarital counseling should probably be required along with the marriage license.
Pet peeves: Biggest peeve is probably injustice on any scale (I am a Libra, after all), followed closely by smokers who don’t care that I’m allergic to that noxious stuff they’re blowing into the air we share, and women (men, too) who douse themselves in perfume/aftershave and then go out in public. Smaller peeves include people who carry on conversations during movies, restaurant tables that have been wiped with an odoriferous rag, and dog owners who let their pets relieve themselves on sidewalks and lawns and don’t clean up after them.
Work space décor: Well, it depends on which work space we’re talking about. At home, I’d say mostly piles of papers waiting to be filed and artwork from France on the walls. At work, I’m inexplicably much neater. For visual stimuli, I use my travel photos as screensavers on my monitor, and keep a few photos of friends and family on my desk and wall. For some reason, I seem to have an entire collection of Christmas cards over the years featuring my lovely co-worker Jolene, her husband and their menagerie of animals. The dogs are the best dressed.
What people would never suspect about me: I, um, used to like to bowl. And yes, I have my own ball (you wouldn’t expect me to use a ball off the rack at an alley, would you? Custom-drilled finger holes are a must!).
What I like most about my job: My co-workers, who are really exceptional, and the freedom to do my work the way I want to.
Staff person I turn to most often for help: The operative word here is “help,” and there are two people—Sharon and Maggie. They know everything I don’t about computer stuff. I couldn’t do my job nearly as well without them. I worship Sharon and Maggie.