Hi and welcome to the Library of Erana, a place of words and of their magic. Words are power, they are knowledge and they are freedom.
Welcome to Francis James Franklin (Frank). Hi – thanks for having me!
Please tell us a little about yourself. I am forty years old, married for seven years, and have a six-year-old daughter. I am a university lecturer, teaching mechanical engineering, although my background is more mathematics, physics and computer programming – ten years ago or so, I used to be active in the open source community.
All my life I have been a voracious reader, mostly of science fiction and fantasy, and occasionally crime. I have always had a fascination with vampires, and currently have a blog where I rant about things vampiric in between book reviews (with an unanticipated sideline in lesbians and poetry).
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.
Kings of Infinite Space, or: The Quest for Alina Meridon
genre: epic fantasy
This is a long novel with bits of everything in it: gods, wizards, dragons, vampires, magical items. It follows a number of people who play critical roles in the great war between the M’Takh Empire and the allies of the Crimson Order.
Suzie and the Monsters – a fairytale of blood, sex and inhumanity
genre: dark contemporary fantasy mixed with LGBTQ, a splash of erotic paranormal romance, and a slice of historical fiction.
This novel follows Suzie, a vampire living in London, for three weeks during March and April, 2012. She has a number of erotic adventures, falls in love, gets into trouble with a local criminal gang and has the police breathing down her neck.
Alyth: Witch on Fire
genre: erotic urban fantasy with GLBTQ themes
Young, free and far from home, Alyth has set out this year on a voyage of self-discovery. After cheating on her werewolf boyfriend with an incubus, she is driven into the arms of her lesbian best friend Tina. When Alyth goes in search of the vampire Carmilla one day, an enigmatic librarian called Lily shows her just how dangerous stories can be.
This novella is a mostly standalone extract from Kings of Infinite Space, and focusses on the life of Hrana (thief, warrior, wizard, and mother of the vampire race).
An Aromantic Romance (a short story in a charity anthology – Pick ‘N’ Mix):
A short tale in two parts about Nina, who is aromantic, and Andy, who is a romantic.
Where can readers find your books? My (self-)published writing is only available from Amazon for Kindle. Links are provided on my website/blog, where I sometimes publish shorter fiction:
How long have you been writing and what, if anything, made you choose the genre in which you write? I started writing poetry and other bits and pieces when I was fifteen or so – a symptom of unrequited love, of course – but the idea of writing something longer didn’t occur to me until ten years later.
Around about 1997 I had a crisis of faith – a spiritual meltdown of sorts. In my depression, I picked up Dante’s Inferno, and slowly, carefully worked my way down through the circles of hell, and the startling imagery of the text and the rich details in the footnotes awoke a hunger in me to write the life of Iphigenia, the Mycenaean princess sacrificed so that the Greeks could sail to war.
I don’t know that I will ever actually write that novel, but during my researches I slowly started to plot out its science fiction sequels – the tale of Iphigenia in the future – and the second of these gradually blossomed into life.
Although technically science fiction, it’s written as an epic fantasy, and it allowed me to pour in so many of the ideas for story plots that had been bubbling away in my brain for years, and it has gods, wizards, dragons, shape-changers and vampires, and even magical rings and swords.
I started writing in 1997, finishing in 2000. This was before vampires and wizards and shape-changers, and so on, flooded the market. These were the early years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I wasn’t worried about being derivative, except for the idea of magical rings – and I will be the first to give due credit to J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen Donaldson.
So it was something of a shock that Harry Potter with its cutesy world of wizardry became such a phenomenon just as I finished writing… and, to make things worse, the (excellent) Lord of the Rings films appeared on the horizon.
I was quite depressed at that point, and gave up on my attempts to get it published. Nearly twelve years passed before I felt again the need to write.
My first novel, Kings of Infinite Space, is narrated by a female vampire, but the vampiric elements are just a small part of a much larger fantasy. My second novel, Suzie and the Monsters, is also narrated by a female vampire, but couldn’t be more different – it’s a contemporary fantasy where the fantasy elements are stripped away, denied, leaving the vampire herself alone to face the real world.
Who or what are your inspirations/influences? Growing up, I devoured science fiction, and three authors that I couldn’t get enough of were Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and John Wyndham. I loved everything by these. Anne McCaffrey wrote some wonderful books – I particularly like The Crystal Singer – and in later years I’ve really enjoyed Iain M. Banks (The Culture series is brilliantly imaginative), and occasionally Sheri S. Tepper. My first novel was hugely influenced by Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Frank Herbert’s Dune series.
J.R.R. Tolkien, of course, was another early love; the world he created is endlessly fascinating, and it’s another major influence on my writing, as is Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series. I don’t read so much fantasy these days, because I dislike long series and the large gaps between large books; but I do love to read Kate Elliott. Fred Saberhagen’s Empire of the East and its Sword sequels is one that I’ve hunted for in the second-hand bookshops.
On the subject of vampires… The major influences would be Anne Rice and Nancy A. Collins, and also Ray Garton’s Live Girls, but TV and film (Daughters of Darkness; Razor Blade Smile) are just as significant.
But, back to authors, and escaping from the SFF genres… Five amazing authors who have influenced me are: Thomas Harris, Jeanette Winterson, Sara Paretsky, Peter Hoeg and Martin Cruz Smith.
Can you name a positive experience from your writing and a negative one? Writing my first novel was very good for my self-esteem. Even now, thirteen years later, I read it and go, ‘Wow.’ It’s not without faults, but… I had created something powerful and unique.
My researches for my second novel, Suzie and the Monsters, touched on many disturbing subjects: Elizabeth Bathory’s torture of serving girls; the horrors of the witch-trials; the lives of women in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries; the erosion of the feminine divine through the ages; the modern evil of human trafficking. In consequence, my main character, Suzie, has a core of pain, rage and hatred – and that pain, rage and hatred is a part of me.
With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why? I don’t publish in print, but I think it’s still very important. It’s hard for an e-book to achieve recognition, but a novel on the shelves in bookshops and supermarkets reaches a far wider audience. Besides, many people still don’t like to use e-readers.
Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? My first book was written to Bach, Brahms and Beethoven. My second book was written almost entirely to Dire Straits.
Books are important, what can a book provide that a video game cannot? Video games are fun and they can train the mind in various ways, but stories teach us about ourselves – about human nature.
What advice could you offer other authors? The best time to write is when you’re swimming lengths – there are no distractions and you can’t even make notes. The ideas in your head will juggle and spin, and you will leave the pool desperate to write… And if not, it’s still good exercise!
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’ve been known to walk into lamp-posts.
- Special Feature – Interview with author Francis James Franklin (alanamunroauthor.com)