Unexpected Questions with Jen Frankel

Jen Frankel is a crafter of exotic worlds, a purveyor of fantastical possibilities, and delver into deep truths. Her work has appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories and (upcoming later in 2023) Analog Science Fiction & Fact. She is the author of an occult thriller series, Blood & Magic, as well as a seriocomic horror/romance about a Vegan zombie, Undead Redhead. In addition to her writing, she hosts the weekly live literary reading series Write On! Write Now in Toronto.

If you could choose any real-life celebrity to make a cameo appearance in one of your books, who would it be and why?

I once wrote a screenplay tentatively called “Freaky! Crazy! Alien! Sex! (with Robert Downey Jr).” Even though it became “Alien House Party” in subsequent drafts, and RBJ became a fictionalized version of himself, I can’t help thinking that Iron Man would be an awesome re-addition to a new edition.

If you were to write a fantasy-themed cookbook, what kind of recipes would you include?

It would be entirely comprised of cocktail and dessert recipes, the more obscure the ingredients and the more lavish the presentation the better. Seventeen layer cakes with live fairies lounging on the icing for decoration, whiskey aged in barrels made of wood donated by dying Ents to ensure their immortality, or maybe a trifle made with fruits from Aladdin’s cave.

If you could have any fictional pet as a companion, what would it be and why?

Maybe it’s a stretch to call a dragon a pet, but I’d bond with one of Anne McCaffrey’s dragons from her Pern books. We’d have a telepathic link, and would challenge ourselves together physically and emotionally. Of course, I would have to move to a bigger place, ideally a gigantic yet comfy cave on a cliffside where my dragon and I could come and go at will. I would also get a huge kick out of arriving on dragon-back at conventions, and make points with my readers by offering them rides.

If you were to write a love story between a human and an alien, what challenges would they face?

This question really gets to the heart of far too many of my musings about science fiction! There are so few compatibilities between species on Earth, sexually speaking, that love affairs between creatures from other planets and terrestrial humans seem insanely far-fetched. So any romance arising from interactions of people and aliens has to be rooted in something more universal and less specific to biology. Would it be about affection? Physical contact? Mitigating loneliness? The best love stories are about finding someone who has enough in common, and at the same time enough different yet complementary, to make a relationship worthwhile. There would be challenges, but the rewards could be immense.

If you had to choose one of your books to be turned into a cheesy made-for-TV movie, which one would it be and who would you want to play the lead roles?

I would love to see my horror novel Undead Redhead become the first genre-specific Hallmark Movie starring Felicia Day and Fiona Dourif with Shemar Moore as the love interest.

If you had to survive on a deserted planet with only three items from your own house, what would they be and how would you use them to survive?

know this is insanely unfair to say, but my first item would be my toolbox. I have curated a careful conglomeration of likely and unlikely gadgets over the decades that would be perfect for any wilderness, from cable ties to a tire gauge, from screwdrivers to a shock-proof level. If you’d actually allow me more than that, considering I’ve already kind of cheated, I’d take my Swiss Army knife for whatever the toolbox lacked, and my box of random garden seeds, in case there was doubt about what might be edible.

Name the strangest/weirdest place you’ve ever written. What made it so odd?

I’m torn between a little cabin in the wilds of Nova Scotia where I wrote most of my first novel, and a bathtub in Stratford ON where I penned the entire libretto to a children’s opera based on a fairy tale. The cabin had no running water, and the trail to the outhouse was so overgrown I nearly got lost trying to find it in the dark before I managed to track down a neighbor with hedge clippers. I arrived there the day OJ Simpson made his famous drive in the white Bronco, something that made the entire rest of my stay feel slightly surreal. The latter was mostly weird because I was cat-sitting at the time for a semi-famous actor, and I swear her cat could speak English. I was in the bathtub for hours, scribbling away in a notepad, and the cat wandered in every now and then and meowed, “Get out!” at me.


Follow Jen on Twitter @jenfrankel (onto which she sneaks infrequently so as not to attract the attention of Elon Musk) and Instagram @jenfrankelauthor. Find Write On! Write Now on Facebook at www.facebook.com/writeonliveevent or book tickets at Eventbrite if you’re in Toronto. You can watch Write On! Write Now at 7 pm every Tuesday online at twitch.tv/writeonwritenow or on the Twitch app. Her books are available through her website at www.jenfrankel.com along with information about upcoming appearances, and at Amazon and select bookstores. She’s had a story recently published in Analog, as well as an interview with her on their blog, and Marleen S. Barr’s sci-fi collection This Former President: Science Fiction as Retrospective Retrorocket Jettisons Trumpism, which I edited, has just been released from Dark Helix Press.


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