Author Interview: Marc Franco of Catching Santa

Today we have our very first author interview with Marc Franco, creator of The Kringle Chronicles: Catching Santa{You can read my review of his book here.}

Welcome to Struggles of a (Maybe) Teen Author!  You're the first author to be interviewed here :)  Well thank you for the honor.

Before we get started, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a dad of three great kids, husband to a wonderful wife, brother, son, pet owner, author and former sex crimes detective. Being a Navy brat, I grew up living around the world. My dad met my mom in Spain. She’s a Spaniard. I guess that makes me half Spanish. She is also the reason I speak fluent Spanish. I drive a Jeep.  Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, I love the beach, surfing, swimming and any sport that involves the water. I play competitive soccer. I have a PS3 and love to play the Battlefield games. Okay, I think I just bored your readers.

Haha, I'm certainly not bored.  I love looking into the lives of other writers, especially successful ones.  Speaking of which, how long have you been writing? 24 years on and off. I’ve ten books yet to publish.

Why did you start writing?  I was bored. See, during my first year of college I was working for Pan Am. Now wait. I have to mention that I’m not that old. The year was 1987 and yes, Pan Am was still around, although not for much longer. I was an international travel baggage inspector. Translation: I sat around during my 5 hour shift until summoned by a ticket agent. This happened maybe twice during a shift. I would then physically inspect travelers' baggage searching for anything suspicious. So, after I completed my school work, I’d write.

Then I, for one, am glad you had such a boring job.  I loved your book!  Have you always wanted to be a writer? Nope, not really. I mean I never thought I’d pursue publication. Writing was a hobby.

Who or what has had the most influence on you as a writer? No one person. Well, God, because I always want to do what’s right in his eyes.

Being a fellow Christian, that's definitely admirable.  Sometimes I struggle to point to God with my writing.

Do you have a favorite book, place, song, person, or movie that inspires you? Inspiration? Wow. It comes from all places. My brain is little ADD (my wife's diagnosis) so data comes in fast and scattered. And when it comes I scramble to find my writing journal to download the brain dump. My favorite book is Genesis, yes, just Genesis. Creation fascinates me.

I never thought of counting my favorite book of the Bible with my favorite books... it makes sense, though.  I've read all of Genesis, and it was definitely fascinating.  Honestly, I prefer Paul's letters and what I call the 'story books' - Ruth, Esther, that sort of thing.  It's the books of the law that I find hard to follow.

How much research do you usually put into your books? Research, hmm, let me think because it depends on what I’m writing about. Catching Santa was quick -- 4 hours. All I did was research Germanic Santa lore. On the other hand The Eternal Library has taken weeks and research continues to consume my time.

Do you base events or people in your books off of your life, or your friends' and family's lives? Sure, the three Jablonski children in Catching Santa are based on my kids. I even use their first names. Their surname, Jablonski, is my mother-in-law's maiden name.

I like to base my characters off people I know, but I'm always afraid to use the same names.  Of course, I then have to sift through hundreds of baby names in books and on websites to find one that fits their personality.

What do you do when you're not writing? I workout at the gym with my wife, hang with the kids and play soccer.

What was your favorite book or author as a teen? Anything R.A. Salvatore. What's your favorite now? Joseph Delaney of the Spook’s Apprentice series and anything written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

What was the biggest obstacle to getting published for the first time, and how did you overcome it? I’m pretty fortunate. I was approached by two friends (former Disney creators) and asked if I wanted to be part owner of a new publishing company, Pants On Fire Press. Naturally, I said yes. The plus is that I have a vested interest in Pants On Fire Press. The negative is that we are a small press and really have to do a lot to garner attention. I’m the only writer in the group.

I knew POFP was a small group, but I didn't know you were part-owner.  That's really cool!  I think the company is only going to get better, with the writing I've seen so far.

What is your writing process? Each book is a project. I outline first -- so as to know where I am and where I'm going with the story. Seriously, I see the outline as a skeleton. Once in place I add the flesh. I know that’s gross but it works for me.

I do the same thing! Only my stories have more flesh than bone in most cases.

Do you write regularly at certain times or just when inspiration hits? I usually write either during the early morning hours or late evening hours. It just depends. If inspiration hits I write it in my writing journal, which is never too far, or I’ll record a voice memo on my iPhone.

What keeps you motivated? It’s fun creating and seeing my work in print and online. Positive reviews and awards are cool too.

What is your favorite quote? “Believe in love. Believe in magic. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don't, who will?” – Jon Bon Jovi

Are there any books you wish you'd written? No. Not yet.

What is Catching Santa about? I thought you read it? No, just kidding.  (Haha, I did, but several of my readers haven't.  I like to see how the author describes their own book, too.) It’s about a special boy, Jakob, and his friends. They find themselves in the middle of an age-old power struggle between Santa and Santa’s former assistant, the devilish S.R. See, things begin six days before Christmas and weird things are happening in 11-year-old Jakob's Florida neighborhood. His friends are convinced their Christmas is in danger, and then live snowmen strangely appear and confirm the threat. Jakob dismisses the bizarre events as an elaborate hoax concocted by the neighborhood bully. But when the bully turns into smoke, a devilish stranger appears as the mastermind behind the mayhem demanding that Jakob catch Santa...or else!

What inspired this book? I was tired of the Disneyesque portrayal of Santa and wanted to create a whimsical Brothers Grim-like story with sci-fi and fantasy elements.

Do you have any advice for aspiring teen authors like myself - or any age, for that matter? Don’t give up. Give 100%. Look and see what others are doing and do it better.

Is there anything you'd like to add? Nope.

Well, Mr. Franco, thanks for coming, and I can't wait to see what's in the future for you and Pants On Fire Press.  Readers, come back tomorrow for our first-ever giveaway!


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