J Suzanne Frank, Author, Program Director, and Instructor

Get to know J.Suzanne Frank better:

What drew you to write in your genre?

The irony of this question is I’ve written in many genres: historical time travel romance, adventure, mystery, women’s fiction, futuristic time travel … I wrote what I loved to read and I loved to read almost everything.

What other genre would you like to write in?

Less about “genre” and more about form. I’d love to adapt earlier work for graphic novels. I certainly saw them in that form as I wrote them!

What are your most influential books/favorite authors?

Writers about fictional Egypt: Pauline Gedge, Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Every non-fiction author on Egypt. All the fairy tale books in the library. Exodus by Leon Uris. Barbara Michaels. Victoria Holt. Hardy Boys. I never stopped reading so it’s all mashed together, influence & favorite.

What do you think makes a story memorable?

When it somehow, someway, through the alchemy of writing, becomes YOURS. You smell it, or remember a moment from it, or feel it. It’s not something happening outside of you, it’s happening TO you. I didn’t read “The Night Circus,” I visited it. I didn’t read Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle … I got broken out of a seraglio, I sailed with pirates, I hung out with Isaac Newton as an undergrad.

What do you think is essential in a classroom?

Entanglement. You have to have a teacher offering, but you also need students reaching; teacher reaching and students offering. It’s that kinetic process that makes things happen. Otherwise, no one is open to being altered. A classroom should alter EVERYONE in it.

What did you learn from your favorite and/or best teacher?

Mr. Vacura. Sixth grade. He helped me see how history connected TO political science TO geography, TO religion, TO finance, TO person desires – I’ve been trying to understand and portray that nexus ever since.

What makes for the most "success" in student?

In any student, I’d say growth. In a writing student, the belief they CAN change/grow/shift. I don’t think writing classes are necessarily all about writing. The Hero’s Journey IS the writer’s journey. But every step, even refusal, is growth. (Whips out Story Circle …)

 How did you come to teach at The Writer's Path?

I was the first one to go on the NY seminar with a full mss, and was the first student to make writing my career based on that experience. I started teaching when my second book came out and never stopped. Eventually I was asked to take over the program, and I said yes: if the NY Seminar meant everyone had to take a completed mss. The program became stricter, more directed, more in-depth. We have several students who have made writing their career. But really I’m here because the late Dr. Barbara Wedgwood put up with my terrible first chapter and saw potential in me. I was open to being altered.