In this weeks author spotlight, I meet up with J.S. Frankel and discuss his new novel, The Menagerie, a Young Adult Science Fiction novel.
What is your book about?
The Menagerie is essentially a YA love story, but not between people. It’s between a young teenager and the interstellar animals she’s been ‘kidnapped’ to care for and tend to until they can be delivered to an interstellar zoo haven.
Here’s the synopsis:
We do this for they bring us happiness.
We do this because they have no defense,
nowhere else to go and no one to care for them.
We do this in order so that they may teach us what it means to be different,
and for us to embrace that difference.
Karen Fox, sixteen and recovering from a terrible car crash that claimed the lives of her parents, dreams only of becoming physically able once more. Hearing a strange voice that comes from somewhere near her hospital, she investigates and is kidnapped by an automated ship transporting interstellar animals to a safe haven. Knowing nothing about how to take care of them and disliking animals to begin with, Karen learns the value of caring for interstellar life. And when a marauding band of poachers attacks the vessel, intending to seize all the animals, Karen is forced to fight for her own life as well as the animals she has come to care for.
What inspired you to write this book?
Every day I read stories about pets being abused, abandoned, and even murdered by their owners. A pet is a living being and deserves to be treated with the same respect people do. I realize some animals are raised as food and I’m not against that practice, but having a pet in a house means it’s a member of the family. Sadly, many people don’t feel that way. The Menagerie is my way of saying no pet should be left behind or abused or exploited.
Who is your favourite, and least favourite, character in the book?
My favourite is the heroine, Karen Fox, as we see her grow during her journey from a shy, scarred (physically and mentally) young lady who is afraid of animals into a confident and strong character that not only surmounts her fear, but defeats it soundly.
As for the least favourite, that’s the villain of the piece, Blaron. He’s large and in charge, blustering, mean—a killer. And he gets what’s coming to him, make no mistake about it!
What draws you to this genre? Do you write in any other genre?
I enjoy writing Young Adult. It has freshness, an immediacy to it that appeals to me. When you’re young, every decision, every choice you make seems to take on greater importance. When you look back at it, no, but at the time, it is prime for you.
Is this a standalone book, or can we expect more?
This is a standalone novel. I never say never, as Karen could have more adventures, but that’s for the future to decide, not me, not yet.
Tell me about you and what drew you to writing? Are there any authors who inspired you to become a writer yourself?
I had a need to say something that would appeal to people. People are natural storytellers, anyway, but some do it orally while others do it in written fashion.
As for my inspiration, go back to all the great sci-fi writers from the past, Ray Bradbury, Frederik Pohl, Niven and Pournelle, and many others. They all fired my imagination of the fantastic.
Other than your own book, what is your favourite novel?
I’d have to say it is Gone South by Robert McCammon. It’s a southern Gothic novel, including adventure, love, twisted loyalty and self-realization. For me, it’s the perfect novel.
Have you written other books we should know about?
All of my novels can be found on Amazon under my pen name, J.S. Frankel, but here are my favourites, all in the YA genre.
If you could advise aspiring writers on only one aspect of authordom, what would your advice be?
You have to keep writing, keep researching if necessary, and never be afraid to take chances. In a novel I’ve just submitted, the catchphrase is “Hold nothing back. Give everything.” And it is true. You can’t hold anything back when you write. Put your heart and soul into it.
At the same time, be aware of what weaknesses you have in terms of narrative, characterization, pace, etc. Always strive to improve. You’ll get there.
Where can we find your book?
Where can we find out more about you?