Introducing Marlena Frank who has recently signed her young adult dark fantasy filled with werewolves and horrifying thrills entitled The She-Wolf of Kanta with RCP. It is slated for release in April of 2018 under the imprint Legion. Rebecca Treadway will handle cover design. Editing, map-making, and more will soon be underway. For now, get to know Marlena Frank as an author.
The Huntress Becomes the Hunted
Mercy has always dreamed of becoming a werewolf trapper like her father. In Kanta, one must learn how to survive one way or another. A dark-skinned, blue-eyed young beauty, Mercy understands that she brings out the beast in monsters and men. When a routine werewolf delivery turns into a vicious assault from a pair of human traffickers, Mercy’s life changes forever. Somehow she must endure in a dangerous city where women and werewolves are hunted.
1. First, tell us a little about yourself. When did you want to become an author? What inspires you to do what you do? Who are you?
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. When I was very young I started writing them, and that turned into fanfiction that I did for fun. College came and I turned away from writing for almost a decade, until I rediscovered it again in 2010. I wrote a fantasy story on a whim and got it published. That’s when I knew I was hooked.
Outside of writing, I’m very active in the Atlanta cosplay community. I got involved two years back, met some great friends, and have been a regular con-goer ever since. I mostly cosplay anime characters that I love or admire. Our group has even started making CMVs (cosplay music videos), usually with a dark flair. At my day job, I work in IT, but that’s not as much fun to talk about.
2. What are some quirky and or unique aspects about you and your writing?
I’ve always been drawn to monsters. My mom used to put on horror movies while my two sisters and I got ready in the morning, so I was exposed to a variety of horror. Sometimes it was dark and gruesome, sometimes cheesy and funny, but always entertaining. I’ve been drawn to werewolves since as long as I can remember, and they seep into my work often.
Regarding myself, my house is decorated in all sorts of fantasy and horror memorabilia. Some guests get nervous when they see the mantelpiece covered with human skull replicas, or come across my sister’s animal skull collection. Our living room has classic horror movie posters like The Raven and Army of Darkness staring down on the guests, and Han Solo adorns the space above the most comfortable chair. Most of our friends have just grown used to it, but some guests are put off by how much fandom merchandise we collect, including Batman, Disney, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and various anime that we enjoy.
3. RCP “was founded in 2016 to showcase quality fiction, diverse stories, and unexpected protagonists.” What does that mean to you?
To me, this means shining a light on voices that might not normally get the attention they deserve, whether it be due to race, gender, or socioeconomic level. In my story, there are plenty of male characters who could have taken the spotlight. They all have legitimate story arcs that I could have chosen to explore, but I went with Mercy instead. She was someone who might be easily overlooked in a typical fantasy book, but I felt she had a powerful story to tell of her own. She has the odds stacked against her from birth and she has to work hard to claw out a piece of existence for herself. To me, I think that’s both powerful and inspiring.
4.What do you think makes a great young adult dark fantasy story? How do you think your piece The She-Wolf of Kanta fits into or varies from that description?
A good YA dark fantasy story requires two major aspects: the coming-of-age of a teenager and an inexplicably dark world that the poor teen is stuck in. Coming-of-age is thrown around often when talking about YA, but I think a main theme is transformation. What this really means is the way the teen must learn to grow up, whether that be due to a relationship, violence, abuse, or something simple like moving across the country. The dark world is fairly self-explanatory, but what it typically means is a world that nobody would actually want to live in until the hero changes it for the better (if they can).
In The She-Wolf of Kanta, Mercy is thrown into an unforgiving world where people are regularly hunted by werewolves. She’s doubly unlucky by being female since women seem to be targeted more by werewolves. On top of that, her father even wishes that she was a boy instead, and considers her sex a curse. As the story progresses, she encounters more and more dangers that she must somehow survive. This fits in well with the concept of a YA dark fantasy. I chose not to include a romantic subplot, which are common in YA novels, because Mercy is too concerned with trying to survive.
5. How has writing affected your outlook on things? Has it made you take chances or see things in a different light?
When I went to college, I never thought that I would ever write seriously again outside of the occasional fanfiction. I considered my love of it a lost part of my life. When I submitted my first short story on a whim back in 2010 and it actually got published, I thought maybe I’d give it another chance. That was when the floodgates opened, and suddenly I was writing like mad.
In college, I worked on my Computer Science degree, which engulfed me for a good seven years. When I finally emerged, I had forgotten what it was like to read for fun. Since I started writing regularly, I finally gained the motivation to attend writing conventions, be part of writer groups, and in the past few years have started seeing myself as an author. It took some time to realize that and adopt it as part of my identity. Allowing myself to write again helped rekindle my love of it and allowed me to enjoy it even more after such a long hiatus.
6. What are you most excited to share when it comes to The She-Wolf of Kanta? Ex). The world, the characters, a specific scene?
I’m most excited about an aspect that will probably be the most controversial. The enslavement of the werewolves within Thomas’ mill is painful to read about, but it’s also revealing of the nature of the town and its lack of humanity. Werewolves by definition can’t choose how they lose their humanity; however, others can. Werewolves are still, essentially, people. Yet, Thomas and others forget this because they no longer recognize them as humans. This cycle happens often in history: it’s easier to justify torture and enslavement when people are seen as animals.
7. Finally, do you have any advice and or tips for aspiring writers out there, especially women?
It’s easy to excuse writing as a non-essential part of life and put other things ahead of it. I often hear other women say that they simply cannot find the time, which, though understandable, also means that it’s not a priority in their life. Carve out whatever time you can to write, even if it’s only thirty minutes each day. Don’t listen to people who try to convince you that it’s a waste of time. Only you are capable of telling your story, and there’s no way to tell how well it will be received if you never write it.