Author Interview: JS Frankel

Posted by Charlotte Kirton on 16th February 2016

Finch Books is excited to introduce you all to J.S. Frankel, author of

The Menagerie and Beginnings


Hello JS! Welcome to the Finch Blog. Please can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in Toronto, Canada, a half-plus century ago, grew up there, and managed to struggle through university, earning a BA in English Literature and Political Science. I moved to Japan at the age of twenty-six and have been here ever since.

Marriage also figured into things, and I married my wife, Akiko, almost nineteen years ago. We have two sons and make our home in Osaka where I attempt to find work teaching English by day and write until very late at night.


Give us an insight into what to expect from your new release, The Menagerie.

Most of my novels deal with action along with a cute love story added, the romance growing out of the two main characters who find themselves in the old fish-out-of-water situation. With The Menagerie, there’s no love story between humans and aliens per se; rather, it’s how a young woman overcomes her fear of animals—interstellar and otherwise—and learns to love them for what they are.

I was inspired by reading real life stories of people going out of their way to help that which was defenceless, mainly animals who suffered cruelly under former owners. This is a terrible thing. An animal, a pet, looks to its mistress or master for love and affection, a good meal and a warm place and nothing more. In return, it gives its love unconditionally. That is what I tried to say in my novel.


What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?

The title always grows out of the story itself. I have a very specific idea in mind and it just comes to me. The characters of humans are rather easy. I make them very generic, mainly to give them an everyman or everywoman kind of quality, something people can relate to.

On the other hand, aliens are much harder. I have to think of something that suggests mystery or danger and that causes me to lose a few brain cells!


Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Keep writing! I know this is old advice, but it’s very true. Read other writers not in your genre to see how they structure their novels, how they make their narrative flow, and how they build their worlds and give their characters life. Then look at your own work and see what’s lacking. It takes time, but if it makes you a better writer, then you’ll do what you have to do.


If you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?

Forward, always forward. I want to see what the future holds and don’t want to believe it’s going to be as grim as some prognosticators seem to think. Mankind has an infinite capacity for destruction, but it also has the capacity for good, for doing what is right, and I want to believe that we will do the right thing and make the future somewhat brighter for our children to live in.  It’s a very idealistic thought, but that’s how I feel.


If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

Flight! I would love to fly. As a young boy—and even now, the geek that I am—I loved Superman and all that he stood for. And really, who wouldn’t want to soar among the clouds?

Having super strength and being indestructible would also be icing on the cake, but flight is chief among my ‘wish’ powers. In fact, a novel I’m almost finished writing deals with a young teen getting his wish, but finding out it isn’t exactly what it’s supposed to be. I’ll see how to resolve that.


If you could sequester yourself for a week somewhere and just focus on your writing, where would you go?

My apartment would be the best place. I don’t have a dream to sit in a log cabin in the woods and do the Walden thing. Having access to stores and movie theatres and other forms of interaction are prime for me.


What do you have planned for the future with Finch Books?

After The Menagerie is released, an upcoming trilogy, The Nightmare Crew, will come out later this year if everything goes according to plan. This is something I once told myself I’d never do. The market is glutted with stories about vampires, werewolves and zombies, but I said to myself, “The heck with it, I’m going to include all three!”

And I did. It’s not your conventional tale of those characters; rather, it’s the interaction of them living under one roof and finding out their origin stories. I think it’s a rather unique take on the whole thing along with a romance and plenty of action. This is something I think fans of the genre will truly enjoy!


About J.S. Frankel:

J.S. Frankel was born in Toronto, Canada, a good number of years ago and managed to scrape through the University of Toronto with a BA in English Literature.  In 1988 he moved to Japan and started teaching ESL to anyone who would listen to him. In 1997, he married the charming Akiko Koike and their union produced two sons, Kai and Ray. J.S. Frankel makes his home in Osaka where he teaches English by day and writes by night until the wee hours of the morning.


The Menagerie blurb:

Taking care of a pet is one thing, but when orphaned teenager Karen Fox is kidnapped to service an interstellar zoo, she gets more than she bargained for.

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.


Love the sound of The Menagerie? Get your copy here today!