Jordana, what scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
I think the hardest scene also happened to be the easiest one, once I jumped "the hurdle." (The hurdle being letting go of what I thought *would* happen, so I could write what needed to happen.) I'm talking about one of the final chapters, where Ren dies. I realized after sitting with that scene for a good long while that what I wanted and what the story wanted were not the same thing. And so I had to adjust. Once I did that the words flowed and I wrote both those two chapters in a few hours. And I am quite proud of those pages!
What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?
It's going to sound sappy, but really, this book taught me to trust myself as a writer. Throughout THE WARD I felt a bit like I was escaping every scene by the skin of my teeth. I didn't trust that I could fix the problems that arose, and that fear was paralyzing. I'd put off edits until the last minute, giving myself barely enough time to make the necessary edits. With THE ISLE, I'd grown to believe that my brain was capable of coming up with necessary solutions. It helped.
What do you hope readers will take away from THE ISLE?
This is an interesting question... While I never had a particular hope going into the novel, having now come out the other end, I think that the theme of friendship is a clear takeaway. Our friends are the family we choose, and to a certain extent they shape us. When we choose wisely, friends can help us strive to be better people. We can also find ourselves pushing up against negative friends. It's important that we actively choose our friends -- not just let ourselves be chosen. Ren got lucky when Aven chose her. But then Ren chose Aven over and over again once she realized just how lucky she was.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
My path to publication was very unusual, actually. You can read about it here: http://www.epicreads.com/blog/the-wards-road-to-publication/
Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
No single key, per se. More like a hundred little keys that, over days added up to trusting myself. Like I said, writing THE WARD was tough. My path to publication was strange and I'd never written a novel before my book deal. I had a wonderful, brilliant, oracular mentor and editor, but ultimately, cumulative experience was going to be "the thing" (and this thing will repeat itself ad infinitum). I'm ever learning.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
When I'm deep in production mode, I remove myself. I go away. I don't talk to anyone and I don't listen to music and I forget to eat. It's not healthy. I've broken up with partners because I've been on a deadline. Like I said, uber-unhealthy. I don't have a ritual. I have a human sacrifice.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
What are you working on now?
I'm actually co-writing my next novel with a former partner of mine, Aurora Wells. She's a brilliant writer who's put her pen to all sorts of issues, from animal rights to gender and sexuality.
Our co-baby/novel is a contemporary, gender-queer YA about a teenage girl transitioning into a teenage girl-slash-superhero. In the end our hero/ine discovers that their identity *is* their power. It's an origin story, with a healthy sidekick of romance. ;)
ABOUT THE BOOKThe Isle by Jordana Frankel
Katherine Tegen Books
The heart-racing and thrilling sequel to The Ward about a teenage female drag racer who will do anything to save her sister—and a flooded futuristic Manhattan.
Drought season is coming....
The Ward is in trouble—its streets filled with seawater after a devastating flood and its impoverished inhabitants suffering from a deadly disease called the Blight.
Ren, with the help of her scientist friend, Callum, and her racing buddy, Derek, has discovered a cure—miraculous spring water—administering it to her sick sister, Aven. But when Aven is kidnapped by Governor Voss, the malevolent dictator of the United Metro Isles (UMI), Ren must go on a dangerous mission to save her sister, again.
The mysterious healing water is the only source of freshwater throughout the entire UMI—water that Ren had been tasked by the government to discover. Although she refuses to give up the water’s location, Governor Voss has his own selfish reasons for wanting it. And he will do anything to satisfy his thirst for unquenchable power.
But Ren and Aven have more enemies than the governor. An ancient order, the Tètai, has been guarding the magical water for hundreds of years. And they will kill to protect it. With the Ward in desperate need of freshwater and wracked by disease—and deadly enemies at every turn—the sisters face a dangerous journey, marred by mysterious secrets and horrifying truths, to save their friends and neighbors, and a city.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORJordana Frankel is a Jersey native.
She's been a camp counselor, a salesperson of diamonds, a hostess at a southwestern grill, an archivist of rare books, a yoga instructor, and a reading teacher, but her shining moment was when she got to hang out in Walmart for 12 hours a day as the AXE girl.
She received her B.A. in English from Goucher College, graduated and then went to live in Italy for a year. Afterwards she then went for her MFA in Poetry at Hollins University.
But then she graduated and she moved back to NYC.
She got her first job at The Literary Group International as a literary agency, where she'd started as an intern reading queries and then assisted editorially. At Linn Prentis Literary, also a literary agency, she handled foreign sales, picked up gems from unsolicited mail, and helped authors through the publishing process. And then it was onto The Book Report Network where she handled ads and promos for features on Teenreads.com, Kidsreads.com, and GraphicNovelReporter.com.
Jordana is currently writing a (history textbook/)novel entitled THE WARD, forthcoming from KT Books/HarperCollins in 2013. She also teaches creative writing workshops for kids ages 8 to 18 through Writopia Lab, a non-profit organization based in New York City.
--Have you had a chance to read THE ISLE yet? Do you have trouble trusting yourself as a writer? Is your writing ritual more like a human sacrifice? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa