Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Marlena Frank is the author of books and novellas that span genres from young adult fantasy to horror. Her debut novel, Stolen Book 1 of the Stolen series, has hit the Amazon bestseller charts twice. She has two books coming out in 2021: Chosen, the final book in the Stolen trilogy, and The Impostor and Other Dark Tales, a collection of dark fantasy and horror short stories.
Marlena has also written several fantasy and horror short stories, which have been included in notable anthologies such as Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Not Your Average Monster Volume 2, and The Sirens Call issue #29.
Although she was born in Tennessee, Marlena has spent most of her life in Georgia. She lives with her sister and three spoiled cats. She serves as the Vice President of the Atlanta Chapter of the Horror Writers Association and is an avid member of the Atlanta cosplay community.
She is also an INFJ, a tea drinker, and a wildlife enthusiast.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Where do you call home and what do you write?
Hi everyone! A big thanks to Nikky for inviting me to take part in this awesome series! My name is Marlena Frank and I write young adult fantasy and horror novels. I also write short stories and have taken part in many anthologies. I live in Georgia with my sister and three spoiled cats.
2. What drew you to that particular genre and/or age group?
I really enjoy writing characters who deal with a coming of age, who are struggling to find their identity, and who are trying to understand their place in the world. I’ve always been drawn to fantasy and horror, to beautiful worlds with dark secrets, and to terrifying landscapes with a spark of hope.
3. What’s your best known work?
My best known work is probably the Stolen series, which just completed earlier this year. Shaleigh Mallett is kidnapped and taken to the land of Faeries where she must find a way to escape to get home. She must form unlikely friendships with a faerie, a stone lion, and a human stoat if she hopes to outwit the cruel Madam Cloom.
This September I’m also releasing my very first short story collection, The Impostor and Other Dark Tales. From a bizarre woman living in the walls, to a dark sorceress’ betrayal, to a drink that is more than it seems, this book is filled with fascinating tales that are perfect for October.
4. What inspired you to write it?
The Stolen series was many years in the making and Stolen itself went through many drafts as I figured out what story I wanted to tell. It took me ages to pin down Shaleigh’s character, to figure out who she was, to understand the journey she needed to take and to figure out her path. I really wanted to tell a fantasy story that was rich in world building, with beloved characters, and a storyline that is both gripping and full of heart. I wanted it to be reminiscent of the fantasy films I loved from the eighties, such as Labyrinth, Willow, Legend, and Return to Oz, but I wanted to bring a more modern take. And I like to think I accomplished that!
5. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between? How do you research?
Before writing, I take time to figure out my main characters. I need to know each character’s motivation, their goals, and what makes them tick (whether they’ve done good things, bad things, or land somewhere in between). I also take time to understand the worlds they live in to understand the pressures they are under. Once I know how the story will go, I switch to being a pantser and let the characters lead the way. I generally know what beats I want to hit along the way, but I write very character driven novels and allow them to tell me the story as it goes. Sometimes I’m surprised by where the story goes!
6. What’s the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve researched for your writing?
So in my young adult horror novel, The Seeking, where Dahlia, the daughter of the Exalted Family, must unravel the secret of the Gray People and face the monsters of the forest outside of her home town, I had to create the monsters that lived in the forest. I really enjoy creating fantasy creatures, so this was a lot of fun for me. I wanted them to be truly terrifying and so I did a lot of research on insects and animals that I found terrifying, then I put them together. So this took a lot of researching strange creatures, but I think it makes them feel more real—and more scary!
7. What’s the most personal story/scene you’ve written and why?
There’s a scene in the Stolen series that happens at the end of Broken where Shaleigh dreams of someone she has lost. This was a very personal scene for me. I wrote this scene reflecting on people I’ve loved in my life who I’ve lost, so there’s a lot of me in that scene and in the events around it. It was both cathartic to write and feels powerful in the book.
8. Who are your literary influences? In what way?
I’ve always been drawn to dark tales, to stories full of adventure and wonder, and to characters that I connect to. J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was one of my favorite books as a child. As I got older, I fell in love with Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, Dean Koontz’ Phantoms, and Stephen King’s The Mist. I fell in love with Crichton’s love of science, with Koontz’ willingness to explore the bizarre with abandon, and King’s uncanny ability to create monsters and terrifying landscapes. I also have to give a nod to Cherie Priest, a local author whose horror and adventure tales made me feel like becoming an author was an achievable goal.
9. What books are on your bedside table right now?
I read a bunch of books at the same time! I’m currently reading a bunch of books, but here are a few. I’m diving into some Jules Verne novels with 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea, In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson, Dearest Clementine by Candace Robinson, and The Call of Death by R.J. Garcia.
10. Last and most important, where can we find your books/stories?
You can check out my books at my website: http://marlenafrank.com
They can also be found in most online bookstores, in ebook, paperback and hardback form. You can also find the audiobooks on Audible.
Finally, you can buy signed copies directly from me at my Ko-Fi shop: https://ko-fi.com/marlenafrank
Follow Marlena on these platforms!
Liked this interview? Sign up to Nikky's mailing list to get a free story along with monthly updates, articles and interviews delivered straight to your inbox!