Hello, everybody, welcome to another author spotlight. Today we are joined by J.S. Frankel, who has a new booked called “Beginnings (The Nightmare Crew Book 1). What really jumped right out at me in this book is that you’ve seemed to have blended genres a bit here. It is one part classic horror monsters and one part superheroes. Whatever gave you the idea to do this? What were some of your influences while writing this book?
Frankel—I write primarily YA, action with a bit of romance tossed in, and when I looked at the YA market, it seemed as though a new werewolf, vampire, or zombie novel was coming out every week. I mentioned it to my wife and said “I don’t think I’d ever do one of those novels. There are just too many!” Her answer was: “Why don’t you do them all?” Bingo! After that, The Nightmare Crew was born.
As for influences, I grew up watching the old Universal horror flicks as well as those from Hammer. In a way, this is my homage to them, updated, but still a nice homage.
Without giving too much away, what else do you have planned for The Nightmare Crew? Could any of them possibly see their own spin-off standalone novel?
Frankel—The Nightmare Crew was originally a standalone novel, with that name. However, my publisher, Finch Books, asked if I could do a trilogy. So…I did it. What I envisioned was taking a rather hapless protagonist and introducing him to a world he never thought existed. He ends up living with them, finding a family, and becoming something more than he was. Really, though, it’s all about family and friendship, when you get right down to it.
Which character did you most identify with in “Beginnings?”
Frankel–The main character, Paul Wiseman. I wasn’t an orphan, as he is. I had good parents (now deceased) who showed me a lot of love. But I was an outsider growing up, and I still consider myself to be somewhat of an outsider.
I noticed you have a Vampire and a zombie on the team, not exactly your traditional hero types. Do you enjoy breaking stereotypes with characters? Was that your goal with this book or did it just work out that way?
Frankel—Yes, I like to subvert the tropes a little. Both creatures are considered “evil”, yet in the novel they’re anything but evil. Partially it’s due to them being created in a lab as opposed to magic or a deity’s powers, but it’s also because they’ve been engendered with human values. I simply wanted to create offbeat characters and to that end, I succeeded.
Angela, the vampire, is human in a sense. She has knowledge, but no experience. She yearns for acceptance, but also knows it isn’t in the cards for her. Angela learns she has to fight for it, just as Paul does, once he becomes someone a little different.
Are there any other members of The Nightmare Crew we’ve yet to meet? As an old school horror/monster movie fan I know there are a lot of dark creatures you could tap into if you wanted to.
Frankel— The last member of the Crew not shown is Ooze. He’s a sentient water being, the brains of the outfit, if you will. I envisioned him as a kind of snarky character, one with a sense of the absurd. I mean, you can’t get more absurd than talking water, can you? But he was a fun character to write.
I try to remember to ask this of all the authors who join us here, what got you into writing? Who were the authors that really inspired you to pursue this career?
Frankel—I started writing very late, when I was forty-eight. Before then, I’d never even thought about it. But my older son, who was around ten at the time, saw a cartoon on YouTube. It had something to do with trees, and he mentioned it to me. That gave me an idea, and I ended up writing my first novel The Tower, that very night. It’s now out of cyber print. It wasn’t my best novel, but it was my first, and that got me started.
As for other authors, no one, really. I loved reading Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein growing up, but they never influenced me. I just decided to write and at the age of fifty-four, I’m still doing it.
Is there any book that you’ve read that you really wish you had written yourself?
Frankel—Gone South, by Robert S. McCammon. It’s a masterful character study, a great action novel, and a terrific read.
What are some of the other books you’ve written that people can keep an eye out for?
Frankel—I’m very proud of my Catnip novels. They’re digital only, available on Amazon. I’ve written five: Catnip, Rise of the Transgenics, Revolution, Separation, and Reunion. The last of them will be out this August. They’re Action/Romance novels, dealing with transgenics, and somewhat similar to The Nightmare Crew, but they deal with far more human issues.
Star Maps is also a favorite of mine. Ever wondered if aliens exist? Now’s your chance! It deals with a teen nerd who loves watching the stars, meets a girl, and finds out she’s not exactly from around here. I consider it one of my best.
Recent novels also include The Menagerie (from Finch Books) and also Picture (Im)perfect, my only romance. It’s a one-off deal, but I’m glad I wrote it.
And last, but not least, what are your three favorite books of all time?
Frankel—There are so many! I loved the classics by Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas and Victor Hugo, but for more modern novels, I tend to favor S/F. Inferno and Lucifer’s Hammer, written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, remain my two favorites. Anything by Ray Bradbury is fine, and, as mentioned before, Gone South and Swan Song by McCammon are tops. I know that’s more than three, but when you love books, you can’t choose just three!
If anyone is interested in my novels, they can check over on Amazon at this link: http://www.amazon.com/J.S.-Frankel/e/B004XUUTB8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007640056961
I don’t mind if anyone messages me on Facebook with questions on writing and what have you. I’m still learning, and I welcome feedback. If I can help anyone with their work, I will, inasmuch as time allows.
Thank you for this interview. I loved all the questions!