Thursday, January 18, 2024

Q&A with K. Marcus




K. Marcus is the author of Frankenstein's Matzah, a new graphic picture book for kids.


Q: What inspired you to write Frankenstein's Matzah?


A: A lot of the time when I am thinking about a story idea, I try come at it Jewishly. It was after Passover when I wrote my first draft so that definitely was on my mind.


I’m not sure where the spark came from to bring a matzah to life but I do love the Frankenstein story (and science fiction in general) so maybe that’s why? 


I put the manuscript away for quite a while and in that time I listened to a NY Public Library podcast on how Frankenstein is embedded in our culture and I thought I want to be a part of that!


And that is when I directly named the characters Frankenstein and deeply integrated it into the story.


I also love science and try to add that to my stories too so even though this is a fictional story, the main character uses the scientific method and there are two actual replicable science experiments in the book!


Q: What do you think Sam Loman’s illustrations add to the story?


A: Sam Loman definitely brings her own sensibility to the story! I think her color choices bring the story into the present day and I love her adorable characters and how expressive they are!


Q: What did you feel was the right balance between your story and the original Frankenstein?


A: Great question.  I wanted to delve into what it means to bring a creation to life and what kind of responsibility for that creation lies with the creator. Do they own it? Can they force it to do something?


This also aligned neatly with the Passover story and the Jews being enslaved by Pharaoh.


But I didn’t want the terrible darkness and sadness of Frankenstein so I lightened the story with a lot of humor and silliness.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: I hope the main takeaway they have is to not give up. Vee, the main character, failed 1,817 times (and recorded them all in their science notebook!) before finally succeeding. All of those failures are learning opportunities.


Another takeaway is to be true to who you are. Vee has many different identities: they are a nonbinary Jewish scientist as well as an older sibling and I think they all are reflected in the book.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am working on a few nonfiction story ideas and some Jewish and non-Jewish fictional stories as well as marketing for Frankenstein’s Matzah.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I am currently volunteering as a Reading Buddy for 1st and 2nd graders and I hope readers will think about spending their time this way too. It is incredibly rewarding.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb