Interview with Jen Frankel

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Making something up that never existed before. Tolstoy said something about how artists are those who get up in the morning believing something exists, but when they tell people about it, everyone looks at them like they're nuts. So they set about to make that thing so concrete that no one can ever doubt its existence again. THAT'S what I love about writing.
What do your fans mean to you?
When I write a book, edit it, hone it, publish it... well, I've only done half of the work. The other half happens when someone reads it. So fans mean everything: they're the ones who complete my writing. Without them, the story is never finished.
What are you working on next?
In the middle of the increasingly difficult-to-write series BLOOD AND MAGIC. I'm writing Book Three: Heaven & Hell, which means I have to follow up the threads I set in the first two books, and plant the ones to lead to the grand finale in Book Four, tentatively titled The Mad Monk.
Who are your favorite authors?
Genre writers! Almost all of them. I love classic sci fi (esp Asimov, Clarke, LeGuin), fantasy, and horror, as well as mysteries and true crime. I love those who become better over time as opposed to those who either repeat themselves or don't seem to care as much over time. Ursula LeGuin is the one that astonishes me most, because in her work, you see not just the evolution of her writing but the evolution of her as a human being and thinker.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Ugh. It's always almost too hard to get out! Morey Amsterdam said it best on a children's album I had when I was little: "I wake up in the morning from my slumber deep / It feels so good to be awake I go right back to sleep."
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love creating, and I love playing and writing music, painting, drawing, sculpting... origami... When I need to recoup, I watch movies and TV, especially documentaries, and play with my cat. Sometimes I MEAN to write, and go to my local coffeeshop, and then just find myself having fun and socializing.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first time I sat down and wrote something out longhand that I wasn't assigned was transcribing the lyrics to the Schoolhouse Rock song "Interplanet Janet," which coincidentally also taught me the order of the planets. One of the first stories I remember writing was about a girl who loses a gold ring down a storm drain. Something magical happens, but I don't remember what! I also used to write plays for my friends to perform in the backyard, usually musical extravaganzas with costumes and choreography.
What is your writing process?
Looooooooooong. Oh, you meant "what" as in "how?" It usually starts off with a germ of a scene, often something remembered from a dream. I play out scenes in my head, and start to get an idea of where the story is going and who the persons involved might be. It's more like excavation than creation a lot of the time: I feel like the story is already there, but I need to unearth it. Sometimes with a back hoe, and sometimes with an itty bitty brush, on the delicate bits.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No way -- I've been reading for too long, and having things read to me for even longer. The first ADULT book I read was Jaws, and I loved it because it gave me what you'd term a "frisson" I guess, a delightful thrill mixed with fear. For as long as I can remember, I've read everything I see from newspapers left on public transit to shampoo labels when I'm in a washroom. In the last few years, I've slowed down on the need to read ALL THE TIME, but that might be a good thing!
How do you approach cover design?
I do do some research into comparable works already released. I don't look much at trends except where they seem to represent an overall step forward in the art of graphic design. One thing I love is layers. Layers on layers on layers. When I design a cover, I'm always glad that Photoshop doesn't have a limit! My cover for UNDEAD REDHEAD had about thirty layers of text, texture, photos, drawings, and icons, some half-hidden. Font is very important too, finding something that can be instantly recognizable as belonging to your book or series. I'm always learning, and hopefully getting more proficient over time!
What do you read for pleasure?
I tend to alternate between fiction and non-fiction. In non, I read true crime, psychology, history, science, and politics. In fiction, I read mysteries, thrillers, fairy tales, YA genre fiction, and supernatural horror. I don't do romance, except where some other element takes the lead. I'm not much for general literature, because I vowed never to read about someone who has a less interesting life than I do, and a lot of literature seems to be about boring people who never get their lives together! Me, I'm all about trying things, learning things, going places, and talking to EVERYONE. I can't get curious about someone who's stuck in a rut, unless the reason behind the stuckedness is fascinating...
Describe your desk
Messy. Right now, on it are my laptop, a miniature bird feeder, a tensor bandage, an insulated coffee cup, a program from a friend's play, a stack of business cards, half a dozen quote of the day calendar pages with sayings by Mark Twain, and half a bottle of red wine. And this is a clean day!
Published 2015-03-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.