Monday, January 29, 2007

Make-Believe Monday with Jacquelyn Frank

Today on Make-Believe Mondays our visiting author is Jacquelyn Frank. Jacquelyn writes for Kensington.

Jacquelyn, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Jacquelyn: Actually, I am not working on anything at the moment. I have decided to take off from work to focus on my little girl and recovering from surgery. I was working on an angels universe, but then read Meljean Brook’s excerpt from Demon Angel and scrapped it. It was just too close and she was doing a much better job of it! I prefer to be more out of step with anyone else.

Debra: I hope you are fully recovered soon, rested and ready to write again.

Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?

Jacquelyn: Well, wow, neat question. Basically, the answer is: I sleep. I get most of my best stuff from my freaky little dreams. The worst thing to happen to me was falling victim to sleep apnea and fibromyalgia. Together they robbed me of dream time almost completely. Now that I have been diagnosed it is much, much better and back to normal! Boy, you can complain about the weird stuff you dream all you like, but I really missed it when it was gone. The opening scene of Jacob, leaping from pole to pole and that perspective of looking down on the world like some kind of superhero, that was the dream I’d had initially for that book. So glad I wrote it down!

Debra: I'm glad you did too! It's fascinating how rich our dreams can be and what stories they contain.

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Jacquelyn: Oh yeah. Most definitely. Which is very handy, especially when they are running throughout several stories. Isabella, for instance, the heroine from Jacob…she has a significant amount of sass and vitality. She really has never cared what people think of her and can’t stand that Jacob does care what his people think of him…and cares deeply. She tells me so. In her voice and body language. I hear Bella’s NY accent in my head, reminding me that she grew up in the Bronx around a mix of ethnicities and cultures and strong attitudes. Coming across another race is nothing to her. She’s lived in a thick mix of cultures all her life. What’s one more?

Debra: Some very famous authors have played with language, creating words for people or places that no one has ever heard of. Have you ever played with words in that way and if so how?

Jacqueyn: I think that’s obvious if you read Jacob and as we progress throughout the series. I use capitalizations that are inappropriate in the English language to convey the societal importance and the difference in esteem the words hold in Demon culture. I believe this is much to the dismay of the copyeditor. Poor thing. I make up my own rules as I go. My own words. For example…in our language the proper use and spelling is summonsing. I call it Summoning when a Demon is summoned. (summonsed). Ack. I can’t look at that too long or it hurts my brain. Councillor is another. Even capping every instance of the word King--when made in Demon reference. Later in the series I just plain make up my own language. But it has rules, I swear it does! Who knows, maybe one day someone will figure them all out and it’ll be like the Klingon language. I just don’t have that much time on my hands!

Debra: Oh but just think, someone may map out what you are creating instinctively. (Kind of like a musician who plays by ear.) That's pretty cool.

For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this been true for you? Have you ever dreamed a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?

Jacquelyn: Umm. I think I answered that already.

Debra: Yes, you did. Very well I might add.

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Jacquelyn: These are such awesome questions. Refreshing. Let’s see…Nancy Drew was always a favorite. I started reading her when I was very, very young (long story as to why) and I used to devour the books. Usually I was looking to see how Nancy and Ned made out…back then, they never did! I got tired of Nan never putting out for poor Ned. Heh. Then on to romances I went!

Debra: Thank you! These are the kinds of questions I would ask if we were sitting around having a glass of wine. :) Nancy Drew was one of my favorites too. Poor Ned. LOL

If there were no categories for books, no reader expectations to meet, and you could create the wildest work of imagination that you could think of what kind of story would that be?

Jacquelyn: That story exists. It’s right here on my laptop. No story I create will ever lack romance or sex. They are so integral to our human drives, so I always imagine them to be integral to every humanoid species. Kate Duffy, my editor, doesn’t put limitations on me. I don’t write thinking what is popular or expected of me…I've only edited that way (before Kate and Kensington told me I could do whatever I wanted) in anticipation of submission. Sometimes people get freaked if you are too radical. I know some authors who are shunned for walking out of step and that’s as good as crushing creativity at its inception. The more I work with Kensington the more I spin out of the mainstream. I expect people won’t like that. I expect others will love it. We’ll see.

Debra: So much of the advice authors hear is about writing to the market and it makes me cringe. How many good stories are shuffled away out of fear? Kate sounds like an awesome editor to work with. I hope your stories spin as far as you want to take them.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?

Jacquelyn: Yes. Think of literacy, art and schooling. This is where we learn to use imagination and to either think freely or become automatons. Every year more and more arts programs are being shredded away and science and math are becoming a central focus. We are also imbedding our fears into our kids and stunting their imaginations. For example, my sister once punished my nephew severely for tying a towel around his neck and running around playing Superman. C’mon…who didn’t pretend to be a superhero when we were young? When I protested she said something to the effect of “I don’t need him running around thinking he can jump off stuff and fly!” I realize she thought he was going to get hurt, but I guess I saw more damage in the way she was suppressing his natural imagination. There has to be a better way, a way of meeting the two in the middle. Safety vs. imagination. Math vs. English. Arts vs. Practicality. If we used our imaginations, we could figure that out…don’t you think?

Debra: Oh how sad. My boys used to jump off the furniture playing "soup man". It was so cute. Yes, I think if we used our imaginations to the fullest and without fear we could figure out how to change many things.

Jacquelyn, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

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