Long and Short Reviews YA welcomes J.S. Frankel. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a PDF of Beginnings, the first book in The Nightmare Crew series (see our five star review here).
I haven’t been writing seriously for very long, but on various forums, sometimes younger, budding writers ask me the ‘secret’ to writing a great novel. To quote a line from a famous animated movie, “There is no secret ingredient”.
Well, for me, there is one: Making your characters real. Some writers are very good at narrative, some at action (me!) some at dialogue, and some at developing good characters. Very rarely will you find a writer who is good at all of these.
For me, writing an interesting character is the greatest challenge. If there’s one thing I dislike, it’s a Mary Sue or Gary Lou, that impossibly perfect person who always smiles, never sweats or swears, and is sparkling in every way. In other words, a cardboard cutout.
Sorry, life doesn’t work that way. People struggle for their goals, they sweat and scream at times, swear and feel terror or elation. If books are imaginary extensions of real life people, then you have to make your characters as realistic as possible.
So how to do that? You challenge them. Take them out of the norm. Give them quirks and tics. Thrust them into a strange situation and they have to sink or swim. Test their mettle.
One reviewer for a novel of mine (sorry, minor shill) said of Carl, the protagonist in Star Maps, “His character development was so well done that at times I actually felt as if I were eavesdropping on his thoughts instead of reading a story. It was especially interesting to see how this character’s personality revealed itself in the way he spoke. Carl’s dialogue was so tuned into his unique set of quirks and habits that it barely took me any time at all to recognize when he was speaking before the narrator could even have a chance to confirm it.”
This is what I try to do with every character I write about. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t, but more often than not, I do. That is my goal, and that, to me, should be the goal of every writer out there. If you can make your readers feel as though the characters live and breathe and are able to walk off the page, then you know you’ve done your job.
Paul Wiseman, orphan and runaway, was looking for a family. He found one—and got a little more than he bargained for in the process.
Being an orphan is no fun. Having no friends isn’t much fun, either. When Paul Wiseman, seventeen, runs away from an orphanage to try his luck on the mean streets of New York, he finds himself trapped and almost beaten to death one night.
Rescued by a vampire named Angela, Paul goes to her small house in upstate New York where he meets her friends—Ooze, a sentient water being, Sandstorm, who uses his sandy body to blind his opponents, and CF—short for Cannon Fodder—a zombie.
The four of them become the Nightmare Crew—beings created by a scientist to fight against the lawless elements of the city. In joining them, Paul finds a family, friendship and maybe even love.
However, the company that allowed the creation of these beings wants them back, and they’ll stop at nothing to retrieve what they believe to be their property. It soon comes down to a battle between those born and those created…and it’s up to Paul to fight for the only family he’s ever known.
After working for Gray Coach Lines a grand total of three years, he came to Japan at the age of twenty-six and has been there ever since, teaching English to any and all students who enter his hallowed school of learning.
In 1997, he married Akiko Koike. He, his wife and his two children, Kai and Ray, currently reside in Osaka. His hobbies include weight training, watching movies when his writing schedule allows, and listening to various kinds of music.
The Tower is his first novel, published by UntreedReads.com. His other novels, all for the YA set, include Twisted, Lindsay Versus the Marauders and its sequel, Lindsay, Jo, and the Tree of Forever, all three courtesy of Regal Crest Enterprises. He has also written the Catnip series, along with Mr. Taxi and Picture (Im)perfect, courtesy of DevineDestinies.com. He is currently at work on Reunion, Catnip 5.
Buy Beginnings at Amazon.