Franklin Neal was born in Liberia and moved to the US at a young age. He has always wanted to tell emotional and powerful stories, which inspired his latest novel, Six Years Black. Neal plans on filming his own stories into movies one day, with him directing. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about it.
Please give us a short introduction to what Six Years Black is about.
Six Years Black is a short story with many interesting clues and Easter eggs for all my novels that are out or coming soon but that for later. Six Years focuses on a young teen girl trying to cope with the loss of her father. In one instant she loses her father and her eyesight in a tragic car crash. Her life of course is not the easiest, but her mother is the angel she needs through dark times. Because of their rich chemistry they have the best sense of humor. Later on, the mother receives threatening emails from an unknown source telling her to drop a case against a malicious man. The mother, a seasoned lawyer, did not take heed to the warning. A stranger walks in the front door and Syble is muddle by the unknown figure. With her disability she is forced into an unimaginable horror.
Have you always known that you wanted to be an author?
I did not always know I wanted to be an author. I like to believe I was the most shocked after telling my close friends and family. I'm a big fan of mangas and always wanted to create my own show. So naturally I guess this is my own way of making that a realistic approach.
What inspired your debut?
I wish I had an accurate answer for this question, but I do not. However, I suppose my love of chess and watching the movie 12 Years A Slave brought some spark. After writing Rooks of the Raven, Six Years Black became a lot easier. In my first novel I tried to have unique characters. For example, the mother is a mute in Rooks, so I tried to figure out how a blind character would react and what would move my readers to connect with her in certain situations.
Tell us more about Syble Green. What makes her so special?
I absolutely love her humor. There is an adorable connection between Syble and her mother. The mother tells her blind child "I think its time we get you contacts." Syble is equally as witty and this is how they cope with losing a father and husband. At one point I just wanted to hug Syble and tell her everything is going to be okay. But I'm afraid she will yell at me. You will have to read to know why.
You were born in Liberia and raised in the U.S. How did this affect your world view and your writing?
Living in Liberia for several years had some critical impact on my life and writing. I learnt what opportunity truly means. My books reflect my feelings from some powerful moments when I was down. I just want others to know there is hope in hopeless situations. Yes, I may put my main characters through hardship, but I bring them back. The quote "A face without a name is as intangible as a name without a face" is derived from the losses I had before journeying to America. The way I see it, I was to young to remember their physical traits. And without that the love becomes untouchable. I understand its still there but its hard to grasp it. I hope that makes sense. Rooks of the Raven explains this a lot more.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Once upon a time I was passionate about drawing. If you are a League of Legends fan, you can most definitely find me on Rift! I'd like to believe I'm an excellent mid-laner.
Tell us more about the cover for Six Years Black. How did it come about?
The cover was derived from her blindness. The main aim is for readers to step in her shoes and know, feel, and react to what she experiences. It is also a mystery of how long is she actually kidnapped? it could be weeks, a year, or six years, hence the title. You will have to read the next series to find out. But another focus is from Sybles father. He would pick her beautiful flowers when she was a child. After his passing she always left a flower on his headstone.
You plan to make some of your own stories into movies someday. Is Six Years Black one of them? How does this affect the way you write your books?
I plan on studying film. Six Years Black will be one of them, and just thinking about it I feel like I would excel. Who knows the characters and plot more than the person who creates it right? I do not believe making my stories into movies should affect my writing, in fact I feel like I would add more enticing details so readers could see it from every possible perspective.
How did you conceive of the unique way the story is told?
Honestly, for a story as this, first person point of view was most logical. If I want readers to be immersed in Syble's world, it is imperative to tell from her angle. If she cannot see an object in front of her, why should readers? Syble is true to her feelings and that is why she humbly believes people do not understand how she feels. Though she puts a strong face on, you realize she is a scared teen who is frightened by this new life. It shows in her conversation with her mom when she says these scary words. "I wish I didn't make it through the collision." Both mom and daughter had an emotional moment. They woke up in a bed of napkins.
Talk to us a bit about your writing habits. Do you write early in the morning, or through the night? Pen or laptop?
I do not have a schedule that I stick to, but more of a concrete idea. I prefer to write at night. I'm definitely not a morning person. Laptop all the way. I'm more of a pantser over planner when I write. I do not like outlines however I will use it sparingly. The way I write is during my busy days I create a story in my head. I think about the next chapters and how it will affect the plots. By the time I'm ready to write, those ideas become surreal, its already organized, then I just type away.
What are you working on right now?
I'm trying to take a different approach on my writing habits. I'm so used to doing this on my own but I realize I do need support. Currently I have posted on my website a survey of my next book tittles all in several different genre. I would like to get readers involve at this early stage. So please help me decide. Check out my website.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
You can find me on my Amazon page. Please help me improve by leaving helpful reviews. As mentioned earlier, this is my website where you can read up on blogposts and links to my novels. I want to thank everyone for listening and hopefully reading. Every bit helps and I humbly do want to thank you. https://franklinnealauthor.weebly.com/novels.html