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Interview with Albert T. Franklin

He is a businessman but as he got older he wanted to get his stories out and share the best he could. Searching for Zen is his debut book.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
I have a serious health problem that makes function harder but I just try to keep moving.

Q.2 When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?
Hoping this fall I have two a retired smuggler story or an enemies-to-lovers type story

Q.3 Your debut novel, Searching for Zen: A Tale of Divine Destiny, blends religious sci-fi and fantasy elements. What inspired you to combine these genres, and how do you think they complement each other in storytelling?
I just wanted to give a more modern spin on religious elements to this story, I don't think it's about religion at all but more spiritual I hope.

Q.4 What is your favorite part or scene from this book?
I have many but it would likely be the scene when the spirit creature first shows up and hurts Zen.

Q.5 The protagonist, Zen, is given a divine destiny and embarks on a life-changing journey. Can you delve into the origins of Zen's character and challenges as he comes to terms with his destiny?
I think it's easy to feel lost nowadays so I wanted a character who was given much but still felt alone and then by solving that realized what is most important. I hope it is a lesson I have learned myself.

Q.6 Which character(s) in this book spoke to you the most and why?
For me Zen finding family and love is sort of what I did in my life. I traveled the world as best I could for my entire 20s and found many such ones. Then I found my wife in my 30s.

Q.7 The blurb mentions that Zen struggles with doubt, loneliness, and the dark side of humanity. How do these themes play into the overarching narrative, and what do you hope readers take away from Zen's journey?
This is really not a fantasy or magic story it is more of what helps someone overcome the loneliness of our times and find happiness despite what the costs are.

Q.8 What is the best piece of advice you have received as a writer to date?
Just keep writing and get something on paper you can always add or correct it later but try to keep moving.

Q.9 Throughout the story, Zen builds a family from a motley collection of strangers and discovers love. Can you discuss the importance of relationships and community in Zen's development as a character?
Sadly, at least in America we seem to just be losing community and belonging. That is why I wanted Zen to go through this as I feel many out there feel the same way. I know I did.

Q.10 The novel also explores the spirit realm's skepticism of Zen's abilities. How does Zen navigate these doubts, and what role do faith and belief play in his journey?
I tried to stay away from any sort of one faith but faith and belief in yourself is important. I am religious and my faith is important but I didn't want it to be about my faith. I wanted the story to feel like yours (the reader).

Q.11 As an author, what message or emotion do you hope readers take away from this book and your broader work?
I would love for them to feel it touched them or made them think about what is or has gone on in their life.

Q.12 Many fantasy and sci-fi authors draw inspiration from mythology, folklore, or real historical events. Can you discuss any particular sources of inspiration that influenced your world-building or story development in this book?
Well I was born in the early 70s so I have grown up with great movies and TV and many many books; there are way too many to mention but I think you take all that in and the only thing you can provide is your own spin to the ideas.

Q.13 Tell us about your writing process while you’re working.
I need a framework for the story with mile markers so I know where it's going. Once the framework is done I can go back in and start filling it out more.

Q.14 How do you select the names of your characters?
I'm terrible at this whatever I'm doing I feel I need to figure out how to get cooler names.

Q.15 In the book, love, friendship, and divine destiny are all depicted as coming with a heavy price. Without giving away spoilers, can you elaborate on the sacrifices Zen must make to fulfill his purpose?
I like to save that for whoever might read the book but in life, for all of us we do the best we can but life always comes to find us and teach us something or break us.

Q.16 Strong, memorable characters are essential to any story. What techniques do you use to develop your characters and make them relatable to readers, especially in a fantastical setting?
I think if they struggle with issues the reader can relate to that is how you make them relatable. No matter what setting the reader needs to identify with the feelings.

Q.17 Who designed your book covers? How do you select them?
A. Valisha Arnold
. She did an amazing job. She is a long-time friend and offered to do it for me.

Q.18 Religious themes often carry weighty significance. How do you balance incorporating religious elements into your storytelling while respecting diverse belief systems and perspectives?
I tried to work hard not to use too many words from one type of religion. My idea is God and faith are important not to mention what vehicle you may choose.

Q.19 Are there any particular authors or works that have influenced your writing style or the creation of your fantasy world?
I think Ray Bradbury would be number one on that list for me. He was the first one when I was young who made me think.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far.
I have to say it has just been fun.

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