Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Author Interview: JS Frankel talks up Lindsay, Jo and the Tree of Forever (f/f ya)

We are very happy to welcome J.S. Frankel to the Smoocher’s Voice blog today. Frankel’s latest novel Lindsay, Jo and the Tree of Forever is available at Amazon. This is the sequel to Lindsay Versus the Marauders. We interviewed J.S. back in July when the first Lindsay and Jo book was released, and we are honored to have him back on the blog.

J.S. Frankel was born in Toronto, Canada, many moons ago and managed to scrape through high school and university, earning a BA in English Literature and leaving no book unopened during his time at the University of Toronto. Shortly after graduation, he moved to Japan in order to teach English to the hapless residents of whichever city he happened to be living at the time.

In 1997, he married the charming Akiko Koike and their union produced two rather interesting children. Frankel and his family make their home in Osaka where he teaches during the day and attempts to write YA fiction at night.

Jodi: Welcome back to the Smoocher’s Voice blog, J.S. Thank you, J.S., for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers. Lindsay, Jo and the Tree of Forever, is the second book in the Lindsay/Jo trilogy. In this second book, which picks up where the first one stopped, the main characters are more developed and new characters are introduced. It seems Lindsay is having a bit of a challenge accepting the fact that Jo is convinced they are life mates. I have to ask, has it been a fun experience for you to develop these two young women?

J.S:   First off, thanks for having me back! I really enjoyed the interview the first time around and am grateful this time as well.

As for the novels, it has been a great experience developing the relationship between Lindsay and Jo. We form relationships in life, and the ones we love, we tend to grow with. Sometimes not, of course, but in this case, I wanted to explore the nature of that growth with Lindsay and Jo, and I’m really happy with their development. They’re really made for each other and it is fun to see how they interact.

Jodi: In Lindsay, Jo and the Tree of Forever, the main characters on vacation when we join them and exploring their new-found romantic relationship. However, relaxing is not in the cards as Jo is called back to her home to help with an emergency. Why does Jo drop everything to go back to her universe when the people on her planet have treated her so badly?

J.S.:  I think she wants that sense of identity. And this relates very closely with how the LGBTQ crowd is treated on Earth. They’re people, they want to be part of the larger community, but the acceptance in many cases simply isn’t there. And I wanted that to be part of the second novel. Not to overstate it, but definitely to make people aware of that lack of acceptance. With all that’s going on in the world right now, we’re still worrying about orientation and that’s just sad. It shouldn’t have to come to that…but often, it does.

Jodi: Jo is asked to come home because a plague on her universe causing its inhabitants to age rapidly. This plague is not isolated to Jo’s world though. Tell us about your inspiration for the plague.

J.S.:  I looked around at the various kinds of diseases we have now that are resistant to antibiotics and conventional treatment and took it to a sci-fi level of what would happen if… I always think “what if” and see what happens.

Jodi: Jo and Lindsay are just developing their romantic relationship and friendship. The concept of trust is brought up in both books. Why did you decide to separate Jo and Lindsay for much of the action in the book?

J.S.:  In the first novel, they were together much of the time. In the second novel, I wanted to see exactly what a person would do, what lengths they’d go to, in order to save the one they love. In Lindsay’s case, she’s on her own, has to develop more as a character, grow in strength, and we see that she literally goes to the ends of the universe in order to save the person who means the most to her.

Jodi: There is a lot of action in this book and some new characters. The addition of Xeefa provides an interesting twist. Why did you choose to make this character an ex-girlfriend for Jo?

J.S.:  Introducing Xeefa was just a way of exploring the trust issue between Lindsay and Jo. Of course they love each other, but in real life, sometimes another person comes along to interrupt the dynamics and when that happens, well, anything can happen. Lindsay reacts the way anyone would: with jealousy and mistrust at first, but the love she feels for Jo is so strong, really, that nothing is able to keep them apart.

Jodi: There are some adult themes in this book. Although there is an allusion to sex, those references in the book are minimal. However there is quite a bit of violence. Was it a challenge incorporating the romance, violence and action in the novel?

J.S.:  I’m always worried about incorporating sex—even the allusion of it—into a novel. It’s a natural thing, but if overdone or written badly, it can come off as being pornographic, and I did NOT want that for this kind of novel. I don’t really care for writing even chaste sex scenes. This is a YA novel, after all.

However, violence I have no trouble in depicting. That’s often part of action novels, and I wanted to show it as it truly is: nasty, brutal, and visceral. People don’t die romantically; they get shot, bleed, writhe in pain and agony, and suffer. It’s necessary to show some of that in order to make it more realistic.

Jodi: In addition to the violence and terror, there is some humor, mainly in the dialogue. Was it a challenge incorporating the humor into such a serious plot line? Did you feel the humor was a necessary stress reliever?

J.S.:  Humor offsets the drama, and I like a little snark in my writing. If it’s just a drama, it can become quite leaden, but if the dialogue crackles then it can help to move the action along so much better.

Jodi: In our last interview, you mentioned that there are a lot of gender stereotypes in science fiction. You do a good job breaking down barriers in this book, especially with strong female characters and non-human characters. Is it a challenge to create non-human characters, such as Bool?

J.S.:  It was fun, actually. Bool is a humorous, although serious, counterpoint to the Lindsay/Jo combo. He’s really their anchor in a way, and provides both comic relief as well as dramatic intensity. And I enjoy creating new types of characters. Who says aliens have to be this or that way? I wanted to make him relatable to readers and I think I did just that.
As for breaking down gender stereotypes, if I can accomplish that, then that’s a good thing. Who says women have to be the ‘save-me-strong-hero’ type? I wanted to write about women who are strong, capable, and intelligent. There’s no shortage of strong and capable and intelligent women in real life, so why not do that in a novel?

Jodi: Although there is a lot of action in this book, the plot is definitely character driven. Are your characters completely fleshed out before you decide on the action or do you develop plot and characters at the same time?

J.S.:  Good question. When I write the first draft of anything, the characters are somewhat incomplete. Along the way, I add the elements that make them truly three-dimensional (or try my best to) and also add in plot points, twists and what have you. Nothing is ever perfect the first time around, so I do my best to bring these people to life as well as having a good story.

Jodi: Let’s talk about Rulle, the villain in this novel. Rulle, a marauder, is Turkel’s brother. He is a powerfully evil character. Tell us about his motivation and how you developed his character.

J.S.:  Vengeance and revenge are very powerful motivating forces. When Lindsay and Jo first encounter him, he has no idea who killed his brother. He wants revenge in the worst way, and he’ll do anything to get it. At the same time, he’s a capitalist although a very perverted one, and he’s also all about the money. Combine those two, and you have a very complex although totally rotten character. And make no mistake, Rulle IS rotten to the core!

Jodi: Are there more marauder siblings that we will encounter in the next book?

J.S.:  I’m not telling. You’ll have to wait!

Jodi: It seems the evil characters in this book are inherently evil. What drives these characters to commit such heinous acts?

J.S.:  Some people or aliens are just that way. Hard times, death, economic sanctions, etc. can force a person to do what they do. Toss in money—that’s a very powerful motivating force. When big bucks are involved, sometimes peoples’ morals go out the window.

Jodi: This novel does end with some ominous foreshadowing. Is the final novel in the Lindsay/Jo trilogy, Lindsay, Jo and the Well of Nevermore, completed?

J.S.:  Yes, it is, and it will undergo editing when my editor, Patty Schramm, has time. She’s very busy with her own work, but I love working with her and she knows what I want to do and say in my novels. She brings out the best in my writing and I’m grateful for her help.
Jodi: I am looking forward to the final chapter in this story. Can you give us a tease for the next book?

J.S.:  Mmm…let’s just say that evil never truly dies. That’s all I’ll say for now. J

Lindsay, Jo and the Tree of Forever

In this sequel to Lindsay Versus the Marauders, Lindsay Fleming returns to her humdrum life on Earth, still reeling from falling in love with Jo, a young woman who hails from the distant planet of Carinna. 

Lindsay's life does not stay idle for too long, as Jo returns bearing bad tidings. It seems a madman has loosed a plague on her universe causing its inhabitants to age rapidly. Conventional science has failed, but there are compelling tales of the magical healing properties of the Tree of Ayeni. 

Skeptical of this tree's powers, but willing to fight for her love, Lindsay sets off to save Jo's planet. Things are never as they seem, and as time starts to run out, everything becomes a matter of trust. Lindsay has to put her faith in two strangers, one of which is a rival for her girlfriend's affection. Can she save both this planet and her deep affection for Jo? 

Buy Links

Lindsay versus the Marauders

Shy Lindsay Fleming has just summoned up all her courage and come out. All she's ever wanted is to be accepted for herself, but though her best friend, Myra, is okay with her sexual orientation, many of her high school friends are not. Her parents don't understand at all, leaving Lindsay angry and confused. During the Christmas season, Lindsay attends a meeting for the "newly out," but she leaves when that turns into a disaster. On her way home, she saves a young woman from being mugged - by four red-skinned aliens!

The woman, Jonephra ("Call me Jo") is a resident of the planet Carinna, located in another dimension. The red-skinned men, known as "Marauders," are a mean, ruthless bunch who stole jewels that power Jo's home world, and she's on a mission to get them back. Turkel leads the band of heartless pirates, and they'll kill anyone who gets in the way of their looting and pillaging. Lindsay is reluctant to get involved, but she agrees to help Jo, who she is attracted to. Jo is tall and self-confident, and Lindsay thinks Jo might like her, but she feels so shy and awkward. Will she be able to shed her shyness and gain enough confidence to win Jo's heart? Even more risky: will Lindsay survive the dangerous Marauders, find the jewels and return them before Jo's planet runs out of reserve power?

Buy Links

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be respectful of others with your comments. Hate comments will not be tolerated.