Jen Frankel discusses her character Maggie and her plans for a series of novels beginning with The Last Rite (Find out about her Indiegogo campaign here—-> http://igg.me/p/109163?a=622259
When did you first start writing?
I started writing when my best friend moved to another school around age 13, the same age as my heroine. I needed a creative outlet, and without someone to play WITH, I started putting my ideas down on paper. So – a hell of a long time!
What is the story about?
Maggie Stuart, 13, discovers she has developed supernatural powers just as she’s thrown into the middle of an ancient battle for supremacy.
What influences is your writing?
I read EVERYTHING – fiction and non, fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary… Everyone and everything influences me, but good storytelling is my primary influence whether it comes from traditional fairy tales or the latest Stephen King.
What are your plans for your writing?
My ambition has been and remains to have people read my stories, and to have the resources to keep writing. I’ve got some ambitions to have at least one feature produced; I write as much for the screen as for the page.
Who would be in your superhero team?
My superhero team would have a very specific goal – to inspire through good acts that actually make a difference on the world stage. It would include Superman (for his utter goodness), Wonder Woman (for her impeccable ethics), Storm (for her power over nature), and… well, I would really want to have some kind of crazy-ass superpower to put me in their league, but I’ll settle for having Batman around to bankroll the whole enterprise.
What tips do you have for people who want to write?
READ. Read read read read read. Evaluate what you’re reading. Figure out the tricks the writer uses and decide what works and what doesn’t. Learn your grammar and spelling! You have to have mad skills as well as talent in order to make it in any field. It’s not just the story; it’s how you decide to tell it.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I hope in five years’ time I have at least the second Maggie Stuart novel out, and a lot of people are reading them and enjoying them both – and I wanna be showing up at fan cons around the globe with my table of books. If I’ve got a movie showing somewhere with my name on the credits, I’ll be in writer’s Nirvana.
Below is a sample from The Last Rite
The trees above me swayed, all long arms and fingers against the dimming sky. I walked quickly, book bag thumping against my back. My ankles were sore with the extra effort I was putting in to getting home, to putting as much distance as I could between myself and the school.
The humiliation of being stood up, I had realized, did feel far worse than my solitary loneliness at home. At least at the house, no one had held out the possibility of a respite. Jason was probably already home by now: I pictured an oh-so-normal family with two parents, siblings, pets, dinner on the table by six. I knew I was working myself into a state, but it was impossible to stop.
Nothing about today had felt right. It wouldn’t have surprised me to discover that I had never even woken that morning, and that the whole cruddy day had just been a dream. Too much to hope for, naturally. Just another miserable twenty-four hours in the pathetic existence of Maggie Stuart.
I shivered as I walked, avoiding the puddles that I might have, on another day, splashed right through. Puddles brought me back to the tarmac, and the pseudo-scry, and Jason.
No puddles. It was cool for mid-April, and the sky was oppressive, as if deliberately denying me the warmth of the coming summer. The rain had sucked the heat out of the pavement and the air was heavy.
It was only my fancy, of course, but it felt to me as if something was hanging over Westbrook, like a thunder-head just about to break. I could almost smell it in the air.
Thinking that maybe those were storm clouds above, I stepped up my pace. It felt like I couldn’t take much more of this before I broke into a real run, and running was not a forte of mine.
Then I sensed, more than heard, the black car slowing down behind me. Suddenly, I thought that I’d been right all along, that I’d never woken up today and I was still in fact dreaming. The memory came to me, images pressing into the spaces behind my eyes.
It was day, after school. She was on her way home, imagining she was the only person in the whole world. Her ears buzzed with the silence. Suddenly she sensed more than heard something behind her approaching, slowing down. Without turning, Maggie knew it was a black car. She stopped and waited for it. . .
The car passed me, drew to the curb, and stopped. A black car. I froze. I had stopped in the dream, I remembered that, and it’s not a good idea to tempt fate. I had a ferocious headache. I told myself, maybe it’s just someone I know who wants to give me a lift home. I pushed away the knowledge that, short of it being Jan, there was no one in the neighborhood who fit that description. And Jan did not drive a sleek black sedan.
The passenger window whirred down softly. “Excuse me,” said a voice, and a hand motioned.
I came right up to the car now, and looked in. It was very dark inside, the windows heavily tinted, and I couldn’t see anyone beyond the person who’d addressed me. The speaker was a young guy, maybe university age. He had dark hair and a very pleasant face. I could go as far as cute, although an impossible gap in our ages made me stop there.
He smiled brightly, and I smiled back, even though I felt strangely discomfited. Easy. It was just a car. He was just some guy.
“Hi,” he said, “I wondered, maybe if you could direct me toCastledown Place?”
Before I could reply, he continued, “If it’s on your way, we could drop you.”
I closed my mouth sharply. I’d almost said yes.Castledown Placewas my street, a little court tucked away from the main roads through the subdivision. My aching ankles told me I wanted badly to accept the ride, but the offer had been made a little hastily. I couldn’t even see the driver, and who knew who was in the back seat?
Besides, oversimplified and slightly hysterical or not, the message had been drilled into my head from a dozen sources from the time I was little: Don’t accept candy or rides from strangers. More importantly, the world of Maggie Stuart did not accept the existence of coincidences. Too much like hope to be borne casually.
“Sorry, miss?” He sounded a little worried.
Ah, I thought, feeling suddenly like I was in a spy novel, outsmarting the bad guy with my superior wits, realized you made a mistake now.
I gave myself a mental slap for being so suspicious and turning everything into some kind of intrigue. Still, I’d made my choice and planned on playing my part to the hilt.
So I smiled glowingly. “Yes, I do know where it is. Just up the way you were going, pastPatton Circle, right ontoCastledown Crescent, then first left, and you’re there .”
“Can we give you a lift? You’ve been helpful.” The expression was too concerned, I thought. There was something strange going on here.
“Botany project,” I said, dropping my knapsack to the curb. “Leaf sketching and stuff. Look, if you get lost, come back here and I’ll see if I can help more.”
The pleasant features hardened. In an instant, he had stopped looking like a handsome university student, and instead made me think of a young gangster. A gangsta. In the suburbs. It was too bizarre to be believed.
“Look, why don’t you get into the car?” The door on the passenger side opened and quicker than I would have believed, he was half out of the car and reaching for me. As he straightened up, I could see he was about a foot taller than I was, slender but strong-looking. This was no friendly lost guy looking for directions. This was. . . this was. . .
I jumped back, hoisting my knapsack onto my shoulder, and ran.
I turned off Dunsinene, and before the car could cut me off, slipped between the first and second houses on the left side of the street, the shortcut to my own backyard.
Behind me, the car had stopped, and I heard the nice-faced man yelling, “Just tell your mother that no way is Nick Marino finished with either of you!”
I hopped the fence, crying now. Nicholas Marino was my father.