Hi, it’s great to have you here! Alright, so in the spirit of getting the mundane questions out of the way first, tell our audience a little about yourself and where you’re from?
Hi, my name is Jesse Frankel, pen name J.S. Frankel, and I was born many moons ago in Toronto, Canada. When I was twenty-six, I moved to Japan and never really went back. I’ve been here a long time, married a lovely lady from Osaka, and we have two eating machines, known as sons. I make my living, such as it is, as an ESL teacher, and I write at night.
When did the writing bug first bite?
For me, it was quite late, when I was around forty-nine. I started writing then, and my first novel came out when I was almost fifty. Now, I’m up to around thirty-six novels published, all in the YA Fantasy genre.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Trite as though this may sound, I love letting my imagination go where the story takes it. I love journeying to other worlds, making up alien names, and getting my characters into fantastic situations.
Are you a plotter or are you more of a pantser?
I started out as a pantser, but I slowly moved to the plotter’s stage. I keep things very simple. I write out a basic outline of what will happen during the chapter, do some dialogue and-or action sequences, and whatever else I can think of. I do try to keep things flexible, so everything is subject to change, but one constant is that I always leave the chapter on a mini-cliff-hanger!
What drew you to Speculative Fiction and/or Paranormal Romance?
For me, I wanted to see if I could write it. Fantasy is one thing, but with paranormal doings, particularly romance, I wanted to see if I could move in that direction. With Ether and What The Gods Allow, I think I did a pretty decent job of it. To seek the impossible, the unknowable, and then to write about it—that’s a kick.
Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?
When I was young—as in kiddie time—I loved Ray Bradbury and James Blish, among others. When I got older, Robert McCammon and N.K. Jemisin. All of those authors and more had something to offer—and they were and are all great!
Have you ever used a word or said a word aloud so many times it’s lost all meaning?
Not really, no. I try not to overuse words, and I constantly check myself to see if I’m doing so.
Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?
I’ve had a few DNF novels in my time. As for why, many reasons. Sometimes, it was the narrative, sometimes it was the poor characterizations or head-hopping…and more. Unfortunately, many of those novels were self-published, and my thought was that if only the authors had spent more time on the editing process, they could have had a halfway decent novel on their hands.
If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?
My parents. My father passed away thirty-four years ago, and my mother passed away twelve years ago. They were very good to me, and if I could speak with them again, that would give me peace of mind.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?
At first, just write. Don’t worry about mistakes. Just write. Get your thoughts down. Get the plot hook ready within the first five to ten pages, preferably earlier. Keep writing, let nothing stop you. It’s your vision, your child. Raise it, nurture it, and when it’s edited, polished, living and breathing, and when it’s ready to step out of the pages, as it were, then you know you’ve done your job.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?
Yes, I would, and this is from Ether, a YA paranormal romance/fantasy. In this scene, the protagonist of the story, Sam Timmins, a social outcast, has just been saved by a wind sprite from a beating by a bully. Sam runs home, trying to make sense of it all.
A breath of wind touched me on the face. Instinctively, I backed up, semi-fearful that what had happened to the boyfriend-girlfriend connection a few minutes ago would happen to me. “Who are you?” I asked.
No answer, but then again, I hadn’t expected one. “Look, you can tell me who you are. I believe you exist, okay? Are you a ghost or are you something else?”
Let’s go with the something else concept, as the wind swirled around me and then went to the coffee table where a few magazines were stacked. One magazine slid off the top. The first page flipped open and then a few more pages. Freak… me… out, and my heart sped up due to the sudden adrenaline influx, “Holy crap, you are real.”
Curious now, I edged over, and an invisible finger depressed certain words on the page. I’m real and I’m not. “You’re real and you’re not,” I echoed, wondering if I was experiencing a first-class delusion. “So if you’re not a ghost and I’m not going crazy, what are you?”
Silence at first and then a young woman’s voice, someone who sounded young, like me, spoke in a silky whisper. The voice didn’t sound exactly human. It reminded me of the tinkling of wind chimes. But it was still feminine. “Are you ready for the answer?”
It spoke to me. Whatever it was, it had actually spoken to me. After a few seconds, I managed to force the words from my throat. “Yes. Do you have a name?”
“Do you want to tell me who you are?”
“I’ll make you a deal,” the girl called Esther said. “Your school’s letting out for vacation next Wednesday, right?”
How could she know that? “Uh, yeah, it is. You know about my schedule?” “Yeah. When your school lets out, I’ll tell you what I know.”
She disappeared in a flash, with only the papers fluttering around the room signalling her departure. “Holy crap.”
My voice cracked as it came out. I’m real and I’m not. What was happening here and now went beyond the boundaries of what people would call normal. So far in the past few days, I’d been saved twice, discovered a being from the great beyond—maybe—existed, and soon that person from the great beyond was going to fill me in on a brand new origin story. Somewhere, there had to be a movie in all this.