Sunday, September 7, 2014

Words with an Author | Jesse Frankel

Hey Fantabulous Readers!

Today we will be interviewing the wonderful Jesse Frankel, author of Catnip!

1. How did you get into writing? 

I got into writing rather late in life, started at forty-eight, got published a year later, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I’m fifty-two now…middle-aged!
As for how I got into it, my son—he was ten at the time—was watching a cartoon and said something to me about trees. For some reason that struck a chord and the very same evening I started writing a story which eventually ended up as my first novel, The Tower.

2. Where did you come up with the idea for Catnip? Who/ what is your inspiration?

I had the idea of using a transgenic character for a long time, but never committed to putting anything down on cyber paper. Then I saw an article on the Internet about a young English boy—I think he was seventeen at the time—who designed a machine which figured out why his brother was a redhead. Talk about a genius! The novel flowed from that point onward. 

3. Are any of your characters based on people you actually know, if so which ones?

No, all of the characters flow from my imagination. They’re composites, really, of the best and worst in human behavior.

4. Have you written anything before Catnip?

As mentioned above, The Tower was my first digitally published novel. It wasn’t my best, but it got me started. Next up was Death Bytes, followed by Twisted (a gender switch story) Lindsay Versus the Marauders, and now Catnip. I should have another novel coming out either later on this year or early next year, Master Fantastic. All of them are YA novels and, all of them feature a lot of action, feats of derring-do, and even a little romance. Life is a series of firsts, and that’s what I usually put into my novels.

5. If you had to pick only five books from your bookshelf you could keep, what would they be?

Great question! Let’s see, if only five, I’d go with Tess, by Thomas Hardy, Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, and another true classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. There are so many to choose from, it’s hard to pick just five.
For something more modern, I’d choose Inferno, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It’s a great update of a journey through Hell. My last pick would be Gone South, by Robert S. McCammon.

6. Who is your favorite character from any book and why?

Probably Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird. He is a very moral, upright person who does what’s right and not what’s popular. My late father was very much like that, and he was my hero growing up. He still is.

7. How long did the writing process take for Catnip? From conception of the story to final publication?

The actual writing time was very short, only about three months. The publication took around eight months, mainly because there was an unforeseen delay at the publisher’s and it wasn’t their fault. Delays are going to happen, so you just have to roll with it. 

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?

In no particular order, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, Robert S. McCammon, Veronica Roth, Stephen King, and N.K. Jemison. Oh, and the team of Niven and Pournelle who wrote Inferno as well as Lucifer’s Hammer.

9. What actors/ actresses could you see playing the characters of your book?

This is another good question, and one that I can’t answer as it’s really hard for me to imagine so-and-so playing this or that role. The only person I can see right now doing one of my characters is Jenna Talackova, the Canadian transgendered actress/model who participated in the Ms. Universe contest. She’d be perfect as Angella in Twisted, and in fact, she was the inspiration for doing that novel in the first place.

10. How did you come up with the title and cover of Catnip? Did they morph as you wrote the book, or were they constant?

With Catnip, I was thinking of something irresistible, something you had to have and the title just presented itself. I had an idea of the cover right away, wrote down my thoughts, and the cover artist, a very talented person named Carmen Waters who also designed the cover for Death Bytes, came up with the picture and she did a tremendous job. She is really talented and I’d recommend her to anyone.
As for the idea of change, no, I never changed my mind at all on either the title or the cover. They both came out fine.

11. Are you planning to write any other books?

Yes, most definitely! Right now, I’m just editing another YA novel entitled Star Maps which takes place in the Nevada desert and deals with UFO’s, aliens, and the military. I’ve also got a novel on submission to a few agents. It’s called Picture (im) perfect and deals with the subject of transgenderism. The final novel—so far—is geared more for adults, and is entitled On a Wing and a… and it deals with dreams versus reality. That’s all I can say about it for now.

12. What would your advice be to someone who's aspiring to be a writer?

For what it’s worth, I’d say write what’s in your heart, but think of what’s in your head. What that means is write something you know about, but when it comes to style, use proper syntax and grammar, something I’ve struggled with at times. And keep writing

13. Finally, just to wrap things up, what's your favorite color and why?

I like anything dark, black or dark gray or navy blue. My wife says I’m easy to shop for, just buy something black and it works. Her little joke…but it works for me.

Where to Find Jesse and his books: 

ISBN #:978-1-4874-0009-5 (Catnip)

He also has a small blog at