About the Author:
J.S. Frankel was born in Toronto many years ago and managed to scrape through school, earning a BA from the University of Toronto in English Literature. In 1988 he moved to Japan in order to teach English to anyone brave enough to step into his classroom. In 1997, he married the charming Akiko Koike and their union has produced two children, Kai and Ray. Frankel lives with his family in Osaka where he teaches English by day and writes until the wee hours of the morning.
Contact the Author:
Books by J.S. Frankel:
Getting to Know J.S. Frankel:
What inspired you to write?
I think that I had something to say. Not earth-shaking by any means, just a story to tell and a way to tell it.
What do you think is more important: Characters or Plot?
Both. You can’t really have one without the other. If you have decent characters but no storyline, then your creations are living in a vacuum. If you have insipid or characters you can’t relate to but they’re moving along in a plot, you run the risk of turning off your readers.
What is one 'day job' you've had that's affected your writing? How?
Not any one job, really. In life, you deal with people and maybe you pick up certain character traits from them. But really, my writing is a reflection of who I am and my own imagination.
If you could cast your main character(s) in a Hollywood adaption of your book, who would land the rolls?
Good question! ForCatnip, I would need someone young for the role of Anastasia, lithe, catlike in her movements. For the role of Harry, perhaps Jesse Eisenberg although he’s a bit too old for the role. He’s a fine actor, though.
What famous literary character is most like you?
None! They were/are all great, but I’m me and no one else.
What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
I watch movies. LOTS of movies, and yes, they help me to not only relax but also think about story lines and characters and what have you.
What is a talent you have that no one knows?
I speak Japanese rather well. That’s about it.
What is one tip you'd give to up & coming authors?
Never give up. Don’t stop. I wasn’t born with inherent talent to write. I had to develop it, and I did it by reading and writing and thinking about what worked and what didn’t. So don’t stop. This is your chance to tell the world who you are!
If you could spend the day with one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
My parents. Famous people are cool, but they didn’t give you life. My parents did. My father passed in ‘85 and my mother in 2007. And not a day goes by when I don’t miss them.
What's next for you?
More writing! I’ve always got something cooking upstairs, and I have three novels on submission, so we’ll see how that goes. And I have my family to think about. Much as I love writing, family has to come first.
Catnip by J.S. Frankel
I read catnip nearly in one sitting. It's a shorter book, geared more towards older teens and new adults.
Catnip is a mix of science fiction and suspense. Harry, a young genetic research genius is caught doing some very illegal genetic research and taken to prison. But he gets a way out when the FBI finds a transgenic woman on the streets and brings Harry in for research. If he cooperates, he gets a new start. But things go wrong from the start.
After meeting the cat-woman, the FBI pulls in a former KGB contact that hypnotizes Anastasia. She speaks perfect Russian and it's apparent that she may be some kind of spy. Shortly after the FBI's facility is attacked by another transgenic creature where almost everyone is killed. Harry escapes with the help of his new friend, Anastasia.
Trying to escape the transgenic bear-man, Harry and Anastasia flee, meeting another transgenic friend on the way.
They finally make it to the Catskill mountains, where Anastasia's subconscious insisted they flee to and find themselves trapped by a mad scientist, Professor Nurmelev, who created the transgenics. For a spy, he's very talkative and Harry finds out about Anastasia's past and that due to an imperfect genetic formula, will revert fully to a cat very quickly.
Harry and Anastasia are able to escape, destroying Nurmelev's compound and research in the process. They flee to a cabin in the mountains where Harry is finally able to contact the FBI but cannot help them anymore. Anastasia has reverted fully into a cat and they have no information on the KGB's efforts at espionage. The FBI agent leaves but Harry reveals to Anastasia that he knows the formula to help her become cat-woman again, and possible fully human. It's clear that there will be a follow-up book.
I feel that this book could have been twice as long. The progression of Harry's time with the FBI, his relationship with Anastasia, finding the other transgenics, even the time spent at Nurmelev's compound could have been much expanded. But as a book written for young adults, and a set-up for a series, I understand the quick pace. Overall it was an entertaining read, even though it was out of my normal comfort zone and genre.