Tag Archives: YA

Author Interview: Jess Frankel

Dreamer, visionary, a person constantly trying to perfect their craft, and someone who is never satisfied, Author Jess Frankel works hard to produce his YA fantasy novels.  Please welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Jess FrankelMy name is Jess Frankel, pen name J.S. Frankel, and I’m your sort-of-average guy from Toronto, Canada, who now lives in Japan with his wife and two children. I had your usual upbringing in Toronto but caught the wanderlust when I went to Japan to teach English when I was twenty-six. That was—dramatic pause—a long time ago. I’ve been here ever since, fighting the good ESL (English as a Second Language) fight, and writing on the side.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started not that long ago, when I was about forty-eight. I’m fifty-five now, but didn’t get serious about it until my third novel, Twisted, came out. That’s when I took up writing in earnest.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Good question. I think that everyone is a writer if they write something, regardless of whether they are published or not. In my case, though, I didn’t feel comfortable being called a writer until Twisted came out…three years ago.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Titans of Ardana is a YA Action/Fantasy novel. It’s a wish fulfillment, in a way, with the hero idolizing—and crushing on—a star of his favorite television show, The Metas. In an effort to get an autograph, he finds out that Dana, the star, and Van, her twin and co-star, aren’t from around here, and the tale takes off from there.

What inspired you to write this book?

Mainly because I’m a superhero geek, and I wanted to explore the process of becoming one. It’s the mindset I wanted to look at, not the powers. In the beginning, the hero of the tale, Martin, is your average nerd, but he learns what it really means when he acquires super powers. His catchphrase is “Hold nothing back. Give everything” and that applies to any given situation.

Do you have a specific writing style?

It’s very minimalist. I don’t go in for florid prose. I simply give the basics and then some, and try to give the reader a solid mental picture of what’s going on without going overboard.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I always wanted to do a book about some special kind of hero. In ancient Greek mythology, a field I love, the Titans weren’t the best group of people around. I wanted to make my Titans different, people to be proud of.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I don’t go in for messages, really, as that can get awfully preachy. My message, if you will, is to believe that you can do what you want to do if you put your heart and soul into it.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

In this case, yes, as an old girlfriend of mine was really into chocolate, so I sort of drew upon that experience.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I’ve always liked Ray Bradbury for his creative use of English, and Robert McCammon for his explorations of the human heart.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Martine Jardin, who works for Devine Destinies, my publisher, designed the cover. She took my suggestions and came up with this, and I was/am very pleased with it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

It may sound trite, but keep writing. Many writers agonize over penning the perfect sentence and by doing so, they limit themselves. Realize that the first draft of anything will more than likely be bad. You can always fix mistakes. You can’t fix an empty file.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Just to say thank you to anyone and everyone who has supported me, and to those who haven’t yet read my work, I hope you’ll take a chance on this novel and my other novels. I would also like to thank you, Wendy, for giving me the chance to appear in this interview!

My pleasure, Jess.  I’m glad to have you here on the blog sharing your author experiences. 🙂

Book Cover The Titans of ArdanaJ.S. Frankel
Osaka, Japan

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The Titans of Ardana

Cover Artist: Martine Jardin
Publisher: Devine Destinies

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Author Interview: Lillian Nader

How would I describe Author Lillian Nader? For one, she is a writer for fun and profit. Expect the unexpected! Please give her a warm welcome here on No Wasted Ink.

author-lillian-naderI am Lillian Nader, an author, dreamer, freelance copyeditor, retired special education teacher, and part-time tutor. My name originated with my cousin, Lillian Ann, who asked my pregnant mom to name me after her when the Ouija board said I would be a girl. Weird things have happened to me ever since. My favorite poem is “Find Your Own Voice” by Jayne Cortez. I prefer outdoor walks for exercise, especially at the beach or in beautiful parks with large shade trees and small squirrels. My favorite people are other writers, metaphysicians, and my family. I have a lot of cousins and two older siblings but no spouse or children of my own. I rely on close friendships of extended family and confidantes. I participate in dream work with a small group called Sacred Dreamers and I frequent writers’ groups all over Orange County, CA. My professional memberships include SWCA, Southern California Writers Association; PWOC/PWSD, Publishers and Writers of Orange County and San Diego; and IBPA, Independent Book Publishers Association.

When and why did you begin writing?

I grew up in Marshall, a small town in East Texas and moved to California to pursue a writing career in 1981. While I was taking a script writing class, I met a lyricist, Larry Marino, who was in search of a cowriter for his musical, Pandora. We embarked upon a successful collaboration to the completion of the script with me as the librettist. It was my love for the theater and Larry’s incredible talent that spurred me on.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I became a published author of instructional workbooks with two California publishers of educational materials for the classroom, I considered myself a writer. One workbook, Native Americans: A Proud Heritage became a best seller for the classroom several years in a row.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Thanks for asking about my newly released sci-fi book for young readers, Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space. Jonathon Curtis is the fourteen year old narrator of the story. He has the ability to manifest objects out of nowhere, but he doesn’t know how to control his gift. His emotions take over and get him into trouble, landing him on Planet Staruus. The planet houses troubled kids from an overpopulated Earth and is thought to be uninhabited, but it isn’t. Theep and Thorpe are enlightened space beings who establish telepathic communication with Jonathon, and the fun begins.

What inspired you to write this book?

My artist friend, Angelo Divino, created two colorful and friendly looking space beings, and I was inspired to write about them. Their names came to me first, based on the concept that each of us has a unique sound frequency as well as fingerprints to distinguish us from one another. It occurred to me that space beings would use their sound frequencies in place of names. The names, Theep and Thorpe, are approximate sounds to the actual frequencies, which cannot be spoken with our voices. Years later, the actual story began to take shape in the form of a novel.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a character driven writer, which means I start with characters that interest me, put them in weird situations, and figure out the plot from there. In Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space, I chose the narrative style of a troubled teen and used both internal and external dialogue to advance the story. His encounter with space beings is entirely from his point of view. I like to insert humor using a sprinkle of sarcasm and a bit of irony as part of my show, don’t tell strategy.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Since the book is about space beings and I am a character based author, I naturally gave their names, Theep and Thorpe, in the title to go with their images on the cover. I came up with the subtitle to give the reader more information about the story, and to distinguish it from other books in the series.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

“Thoughts are things” is the overall theme of the story. Jonathon has the power of manifestation, and Theep and Thorpe teach him how to control his gift by choosing positive, productive thoughts.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes, I drew upon my experiences as a teacher in a juvenile court school for part of the setting although it changed drastically as soon as it became housed on the fictional Planet Staruus.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I was influence by J D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye for the narrative style of my book and J K Rowling’s Harry Potter for motivation. As a special education teacher working with reluctant readers when the Harry Potter books were released, I noticed my students were choosing those books of their own volition. This made a big impression on me;

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Oh, yes. I have at least two writing mentors. One is Marjorie Miles, author of Healing Haiku: A Poetic Prescription for Surviving Cancer, who teaches a class I’ve been taking for the past four years. Dr. Miles encourages creative expression through free writing activities. The other mentor is Dr. Heather Friedman Rivera, author of the Prism Walker fantasy series for young readers along with nonfiction and fiction for adults. Heather is my weekly writer’s check-in partner. We email each other once a week with our writing goals, successes, and encouragement for one another. She is also a revered beta reader and writing coach.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My book cover was designed by Laura Gordon Moyer at The Book Cover Machine. She was referred to me by Heather Rivera, and I loved the design she did for Heather’s books. She worked with the original artist/creator of the space images and me for the design. Laura is responsive, cooperative, extremely talented, and reasonably priced.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Listen to your inner voice. Study the craft of writing, consult experts and peer readers and writers for their opinions, but always stay true to your inner voice. Each of us has a unique voice that only we can express. Dream big and don’t give up on your dreams. Surround yourself with positive people and energy. Participate in professional groups with other writers. Build an author’s platform to express your own voice. Have fun.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks for choosing Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space for your reading pleasure. Always remember, thoughts are things! ***

custom-book-cover-lillian-new-small-fileLillian Nader
Yorba Linda, California

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Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space
Cover Artists: Laura Gordon Moyer
and Angelo Divino

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Author Interview: Jeffrey Cook & Katherine Perkins

Author Jeffrey Cook and his co-author/Editor Katherine Perkins are research nerds. Having been inspired to find out more by the books and comics they read as kids, they now love writing the kind of books that send people running to Google to look up the history, or mythology, or whatever.  Please welcome them both to No Wasted Ink.

jeffrey-cookkatherine-perkinsJeffrey Cook lives in Maple Valley, WA with his wife and three large dogs. Katherine Perkins lives in Ontario, OH with her husband and one cat. Jeff was born in Boulder, CO, but basically spent the first half of his life all over North America. Katherine was born in Lafayette, LA, the cuisine of which she will defend on any field of honor, and saved most of her moving around for after graduate school. When not reading, researching, or writing, Jeff enjoys role-playing games and watching football, and Kate wonders if she left the stove on. Kate’s been Jeff’s book editor/website manager/etc. for years until she logically had to start being credited as a co-writer.

When and why did you begin writing?

In terms of storytelling, we both got something of an early start, particularly Jeff. When he was very small, he spent long rides in the car doing back-and-forth storytelling with his dad. By the time he was six, his mother says, he was declaring his intention to be an author.

Kate was pegged as a future writer by teachers in school, but had concentrated more on being a historian before she ended up a freelance editor, ad then working with Jeff.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Jeff’s been a writer for some time, having gotten poetry and professional journalism published many years ago, but considered himself an author in 2014, when he first sold a copy of Dawn of Steam: First Light to someone he didn’t know personally. The Fair Folk Chronicles are actually the first published books with Katherine’s name on the cover.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Foul is Fair is the first book of a Young Adult contemporary Fantasy series, the Fair Folk Chronicles. It draws a lot on mythology and folklore, especially Celtic and Hawaiian, but is set in modern-day Seattle, where a 16-year-old girl finds out her father is the Unseelie King (“What, like, ’80s David Bowie?”) and needs her help. Fortunately, she also has along a menehune BFF, a satyress rock star, and a disabled pixie with a service crow.

What inspired you to write this book?

Jeff woke up from one of his dreams again. They’ve been a jumping off point for a lot of books, by now. “Her name is Megan O’Reilly, and her ADHD is partly caused by her being half faerie.” Then it was time for us both to delve into research.

Do you have a specific writing style?

We tend to adjust style quite a bit to fit the content of what we’re writing, but admittedly, our reading a lot of comic books in younger days often shows through, with action and witty banter.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Jeff, in focusing in on the Celtic mythology aspects of the book, really wanted to tie the whole series in with the idea of the “Fair Folk.” So each book in the series took a different use of the word ‘Fair’ to tie them all together, starting out with a Shakespeare reference. Appropriate enough, since there’s certainly a number of Shakespeare references throughout the books.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Various ideas are explored about assumption and perception and other things, but mostly we want to tell a good story.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, with the exception of the Fremont Solstice Festival in Seattle. Jeff really enjoys including places he’s been in books, but we don’t use real people.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

  • Mary Shelly, for the depth and richness of her work and for how ahead of her time she was.
  • C.S. Lewis, because you never forget your first.
  • Louis L’Amour, for his use of mythology and background, albeit not how he handles endings.
  • Leslie Feinberg, author of Stone Butch Blues, solely for an incredibly valuable lesson. “What’s the most important thing you can be? Someone you can live with.”
  • Terry Pratchett, for the combination of nonsense and common sense.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

We knew we wanted pictures of the Four Lost Treasures of Ireland for the series. We had some concept art done by artist Christopher Kovacs that Katherine was very keen on, starting with the sword for Foul is Fair. The covers themselves were done by Clarissa Yeo, a professional artist who came well recommended,

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I, Jeff, got really lucky when Kate agreed to start editing for me. It’s been priceless having that additional voice, and the additional perspective has done a lot to make all of my books better. Where you can, find those other perspectives — in editing, beta reading, and general support — and listen to them. You’ll be better off for it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

We hope you enjoy the story, and that you’ll leave a review.

foulisfairJeffrey Cook
Maple Valley, WA

Katherine Perkins
Ontario, Ohio

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Foul is Fair

Cover Artist: Clarissa Yeo

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Author Interview: Che Gilson

Author Che Gilson likes to make the small epic and the epic small.  She is a YA fantasy author from the Pacific Northwest.  Please welcome her on No Wasted Ink.

Che Gilson- Black OpalHello! My name is Che Gilson and I write things and draw things. Some of those things get published which is really, really nice. I also love to draw and paint. I mostly work in watercolor and who knows- perhaps you’ll see my work in the art show of a fantasy convention you go to! I’m also quite the nerd. I love TV, movies, manga, anime, and reading. I collect Asian Ball Jointed Dolls and one of my current goals is buying a smart phone so I can play Pokémon GO… and also so I can get a credit card reader for conventions… but mostly Pokémon…

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been creating stories since I was a child. I loved the writing prompts in English class and I loved to read. My original goal was to write and draw my own comics but in art school, I discovered my attention span for comics lasts about 12 pages. I then wrote some graphic novels but unfortunately had difficulty finding an artist to work with consistently. It didn’t help when Tokyopop shut down either. So I began to write more and more prose. It was something I’d done all along, but I finally really decided to work at it because it was the only way I was going to be able to tell MY stories, no artist required.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’m not sure. I think I felt ‘officially’ like a writer when I wrote Avigon my first graphic novel, illustrated by Jimmie Robinson. I finally had my name on something and that something was in stores. That was the first real success I had getting my words out in more than a zine.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Aside from my usual line about Tea Times Three being a book about tea, witches, yummy food, and small towns. I really consider it a book about a town. I made up a fictional Maine town called Midswich. I picked Maine because it’s not a populace state and because I have an obsession with the East Coast even though I’ve only been to New York city once in high school. But the East Coast looks as close to Europe as you can get and originally I had wanted Tea Times Three to be set in England. I made Midswich a tourist town that had designed itself to look like a British village. I got the idea from Solvang, a Swedish styled town in California. There are multiple POV characters, magic, and a hint of romance.

What inspired you to write this book?

FOOD! This book is my ode to all the food I can’t eat anymore because I am allergic to everything! Other ideas went into it as well. I love what I like to call “Eccentric British Village Comedies” though all my examples of this ‘genre’ are American or Canadian. TV shows like Northern Exposure and Corner Gas. Things that revolve around small towns and shenanigans where everyone pretty much knows everyone. I also adore witches. I joke that my default mode is “witch”. And tea which aside from water, is my favorite beverage on earth. It’s pretty much the only thing besides water that I drink. So I put into Tea Times Three all the things I love, food, small town shenanigans, tea and witches.

Originally I had planned Tea Times Three as a comic book set in a little English village and the witches were much younger. I was aiming for a Middle Grade audience of kids 9-12 and maybe some shojo fans. But then Tokyopop folded and I had to re-imagine it as something else entirely. It took several years and some sage advice before the novel version clicked in my head and I started writing it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I strive for clarity in my writing. I’m not sure that’s a style, but that’s the approach I take. I want the writing to be clear, I want the characters to be interesting, I want to express myself in a way that is easily understood. I hope it’s interesting and I hope people enjoy it and that’s really what I want.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

That was really simple. I used the name of the tea shop the three witches open in the town. Tea Times Three. And if I’m being utterly honest the name of the tea shop is a nod to Charmed the TV show. Piper opens a club named P3 which was a reference to the sister’s “power of three”, and their names which all began with “P”. This is actually the super nerd origin of the title I’ve never told anyone else!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

One of the major themes in Tea Times Three is tolerance and intolerance. The majority of the town is nervous when witches move in and it takes a few people standing up for them for people to start changing their minds.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not especially. Though I put a lot of myself into my books. I tend to give my characters all my worst personality traits and then make them bigger (the traits, not the characters). Or I give them personality traits I WISH I had, like optimism! Though I do know what it’s like to move into a new town and to live in small towns. All the food in Tea Times Three is either based on things I’ve eaten, or things I’ve seen on TV. One of my beta readers pointed out that I had described the flavor of Earl Grey tea wrong and in fact I had never drunk Earl Grey before. So I went to the grocery store and bought some. Turns out I LOVE Earl Grey and it’s become one of my favorite teas. I also rewrote my description of the flavor.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

In college I took a creative writing class and the teacher kept telling us to read Raymond Carver. So I went to the book store grabbed a collection of Raymond Carver off the shelf, sat down and read. It blew my mind. The diamond clarity of the prose, the sense of so much going unspoken, the stories of small intimate, painful moments, took my breath away. After that I wanted to write like Raymond Carver. I did too, in as much as my smaller talents could manage. but It was another writer friend of mine who took a look at my prose and said “You need to describe things more, what the hell is this?” (I paraphrase). So for love of Raymond Carver I stripped my prose down to the bones, then after talking with that writer friend I started to build it back up again.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Yes! Suzanne McLeod. She’s a British urban fantasy author and you should go check out the Spellcrackers series! I met her through a Live Journal group for UF authors called Fangs Fur Fey. She posted that she was having trouble with her book and was looking for a cheer partner to swap snippets with. I had been working on Tea Times Three for awhile and was stuck on that manuscript as well. So I replied to her and we began exchanging bits of our books. We still email back and forth and encourage each other to this day! She has provided the most ridiculously good edits on some of my shorter works and has encouraged me to keep writing for years.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I designed the book cover for Tea Times Three, and my earlier urban fantasy novella Carmine Rojas: Dog Fight. Though for Tea Times Three I commissioned the hand lettering you see on the cover. The lettering was drawn by Courtney Kilpatrick of Typecast Lettering. I found her on Etsy. I had a very strong vision of the Tea Times Three cover, I even had the clip art picked out years before it was published. I thought I might have to self-publish and I wanted to be ready. Having the title handwritten was inspired by Bookcoverarchive.com which showcases the covers of literary novels and has an extensive gallery of beautifully designed cover work.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. But be ready to go with small presses and Indie publishing. Write what you want, what inspires you. If you love it chances are others do too.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

You’ve probably heard this from other authors, but if you like a book leave a review! It doesn’t have to be brilliantly written. A simple “I liked it.” is great. Small press and Indie authors live and die by the kindness of readers.

Tx3 cover flat smallerChe Gilson
Salem Oregon

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Cover artist:  Courtney Kilpatrick
Publisher: Black Opal Books

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Author Interview: Ann Snizek

Author Ann Snizek writes young adult urban fantasy with a fresh science fiction twist. Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Ann SzenikWho am I? I’m an eclectic person and a bit of a homebody. I do enjoy going out and doing things, but I completely enjoy my quiet time at home. We have a small homestead-in-progress (meaning we are slowly working toward being as self-sufficient as possible). I love animals, art, music, theater, movies, and nature. I tend to get obsessed with learning when something strikes me as interesting – which often happens – and I just run with it, devouring as much information as I can.

When and why did you begin writing?

It might be cliché, but I’ve always loved writing. I learned how to read before I started kindergarten and I spent my recess time in elementary school with paper and pencil in hand. Yes, life happened and I didn’t always get the chance to write, but story ideas constantly come into my mind and beg for me to preserve them in writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After all those years of writing, I still didn’t consider myself a writer until I self-published my first book in 2012. Even then the concept felt foreign to me. There are still days that I forget that I have several books published.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I have several books in the works, but I’m trying to focus on For: Giva de Vine (Payton Chronicles 2). It has been a long time coming and I feel guilty for not finishing it already. How can I call it a series when I only have one book published? Second to that book is The Sword of Israj (Tunuftol book 4) which has also been a long time coming as life happens quite often.

What inspired you to write this book?

I don’t remember how the details came about initially, but I wanted to write a story that my dad would be proud of. He passed away in 2010. He loved the arts and even wrote some himself. That side of my family was big in the arts. My grandparents owned and operated their own theatre with my grandmother acting, creating costumes and sets. My grandfather was a playwright and director.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to write in a natural manner. I want to produce something that I would enjoy reading. I love connecting with my characters and going new places. I want to feel that I can relate, but also have unexpected things happen.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I like to play on words. The title for book one is To Eris – Human. So, For: Giva de Vine had to come next.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I guess if I had to pick a message it would have to be to find your own inner strength. You can often do more and be more than you let yourselves believe. Reach for the stars.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some things are taken from my own life or lives of those I know and love. Others are pure imagination. I like to blend the two. I feel it allows readers to connect as well as dream bigger. Even if you haven’t been through the same experience, everyone experiences basic emotions. That is what I try to convey.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Anne McCaffrey has long been a favorite writer. She started with a story idea that completely took off into a universe of its own. Still, with all her popularity, she always seemed to stay true to herself. Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling are amazing too. They create amazing new worlds with no limits except the imagination and they started at rock bottom and worked their way up. I hope to be even partially as successful as they have been in their lives.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I try to pull techniques from books I love to read and apply it to my own writing. I constantly strive to improve my skills and grow as a writer. I don’t have a specific mentor as such. There is no one person that I go to for guidance. Instead, I look to books and push myself to learn more and always get better.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

This cover is the only cover I’ve ever purchased. I saw it and just thought it called to me and fit the feel of what I wanted. Purchasing it actually spurred me into action and I started playing with my computer graphics program and have started creating covers myself.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing what you know and love. Always push yourself to do better, but have fun. If you don’t enjoy writing it, how can you expect readers to enjoy it?

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love to hear from my readers more. I wish they would give me more feedback. If you enjoy my books write a little review, let me know, and tell others. I’d love to connect with them and find out what it is they like about it and why.

To Eris Human Book CoverAnn Snizek
Rural, central Virginia

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To Eris – Human

Cover Artist: Adrijus

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