“I write what I know,” explains bestselling author Jacquelyn Frank, who recently moved from New York to Asheville. “I write about certain things as I’m experiencing them.”
While this isn’t an unusual claim for a writer – real-life experience has long been the jumping-off point for great fiction – Frank’s work is set in the shadowy underworld inhabited by vampires and demons.
So just what sort of frequent flier miles is she cashing in to reach these infernal regions?
Turns out, Frank’s Nightwalkers series started with a dream. Her latest novel, Noah (Kensington Publishing, 2008), is the final installment. Frank will be reading at Forest City’s Fireside Books on Tuesday.
The series’ initial book, Jacob, opens with a culled-from-R.E.M. passage, and from there, Frank’s elaborate world of the demons unfolds.
In Noah, former human Isabella shares the role of “enforcer” with her husband, the Earth Demon Jacob. The couple is tight with Demon King Noah. But when Noah endangers Isabella’s child in his pursuit of a human woman, Isabella and Jacob must exercise their judge-and-jury duty and punish the king.
As readers learned in Jacob, if the demons “cross the line and turn their lust to another species, say humans, it’s Jacob’s duty to prevent them and then to punish them severely for it.”
This is part of the tale; the other aspect is the very steamy romance between Noah and Kestra – the human object of the Demon King’s desire.
In the world of paranormal romance, vampires are actually, according to Frank, “a little passé.” Five books into the Nightwalkers series, she feels the demons may have run their course.
Paranormal romance, on the other hand, has not.
“It’s the latest rage,” Frank says. “Now that it’s had such a nice central focus, it will never lose an audience.”
And, no doubt, it’s Frank’s lusty scenes that have Harlequin authors ripping their own bodices in envy and hungry readers salivating at the bookshelves.
“I would rather be here, focusing these passions inside of me toward making love to you all night until you begged me to stop,” Noah says at one point. What follows is decidedly un-PG. But that’s what makes the underworld go ‘round.
Frank attributes some of her creative inspiration to a childhood fondness for Dungeons & Dragons. The fantasy role-playing game, forerunner to today’s high-tech gaming craze, allowed a game master (who also served as referee and storyteller) to map out exotic settings, richly detailed characters, convoluted adventures and resulting battles. In D&D, Frank was the game master – a practice that later translated into her works of paranormal fantasy.
But a good imagination isn’t her only ally – she also points to her longtime struggle with bipolar disorder. The illness’ manic phases allowed her to complete her manuscripts at a rate of two-and-a-half weeks per novel.
“But it was unhealthy,” the author says with a laugh. “Two weeks of no eating, no showering. It was obsessive.” Now being treated for the disorder, Frank admits the writing comes slower – though she’s still an impressive four books into her next series.
“I want to do something fresh and exciting,” Frank relates.
Even as Frank departs from her sexy demon characters, readers can count on more superpowers, mysterious realms, dangerous encounters and steamy scenes. And – since Frank does incorporate what she knows into her prose – look for hints of Western North Carolina’s mountains to appear in upcoming novels.
who: Jacquelyn Frank
what: Author reading and book launch for Noah
where: Fireside Books (2270 Highway 74-A Bypass, Suite 509, Forest City)
when: Tuesday, Sept. 2. 5-7 p.m. (Free. 245-5188. www.firesidebookstore.com)