JK Franko: Crafting Controversy and Girl Power in Crime Fiction
From the heart of Texas, we invite you to step into the world of JK Franko, the mind behind the gripping Roy Cruise series that has now also taken Spain by storm under the name of Talión.
Fresh off his international success, Franko is back with a new, buzzworthy novel, ‘Killing Johnny Miracle,’ a thrillingly controversial tale that’s already sparking conversations about girl power and retribution.
As we prepare for the book’s highly anticipated launch in Dallas next week, join us for an exclusive look into Franko’s life, his creative process, and the Southern charm that makes him one of the most compelling voices in crime fiction.
Q: What’s the story behind Mary Miracle, the intriguing character in your latest novel?
A:In my novels, I love diving into how everyday people rise to the occasion in extraordinary situations. Mary Miracle is no exception. She starts off as this sheltered, idealistic woman and transforms into a force to be reckoned with when life throws her curveballs. She’s got grit and resilience—qualities we all have but may not realize until we’re put to the test.
Q: Your new book kicks off with a bang: “Mary Miracle would always recall with clarity the moment she decided to kill her husband.” What led you to start on such a high note?
A: I’m a big fan of books that start strong—like Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A powerful first line sets the stage, giving readers a taste of the story’s tone and direction. I put a lot of thought into my opening lines and chapters, and I’d like to think it shows.
Q: How does “Killing Johnny Miracle” set itself apart from your Eye for Eye trilogy?
A: “Killing Johnny Miracle” is less philosophical than my Eye for Eye trilogy. While it explores similar moral dilemmas, I’ve dialed back the narrator’s input to let the characters’ actions speak louder. The book still packs plenty of unexpected twists and dark humor.
Q: Your novels often explore the perfect crime and retribution. What fascinates you about these themes?
A: The idea of the perfect crime captivated me ever since I saw The Thomas Crown Affair as a kid. In heist stories, it’s easy to root for the “bad guys” when no one’s getting hurt. What intrigues me is elevating the stakes from theft to murder, yet still making readers root for the “bad guy.” It challenges our notions of justice and retribution, especially when payback feels so satisfying.
Q: You’ve described “Killing Johnny Miracle” as “100% Texan.” What does that mean to you?
A: Growing up and living in South Texas has given me a unique perspective. Texas is often misunderstood, both abroad and within the U.S. It’s a complex state—historically, culturally, and politically. I wanted “Killing Johnny Miracle” to capture that complexity, especially how it influences our views on morality and justice.
Q: Your books often feature unexpected plot twists and dark humor. How do you strike the balance between suspense and comedy?
A: My approach to balancing suspense and comedy comes from stand-up comedy, where misdirection is key. A great laugh or plot twist happens when you lead the audience down a path they think they know, only to surprise them with an unexpected turn. The goal is to offer a few possible outcomes and then deliver something entirely different.
Q: How has your background in law influenced your approach to writing crime fiction?
A: My legal background is a double-edged sword. It’s great for research and attention to detail, but legal writing is naturally concise. In storytelling, you need to elaborate more, which is why my writing often has a “cinematic” feel. I focus on creating an atmosphere to immerse the reader.
Q: What were some of the challenges you faced while writing “Killing Johnny Miracle”?
A: The biggest challenge was managing the timeline. The story has many moving parts, and balancing readability with plot complexity was a delicate act.
Q: Can you share some insights into creating villains that readers “love to hate”?
A: Crafting a compelling villain is about gradually ramping up the “hate factor.” It’s akin to real-life interactions—you initially see what someone wants you to see. As the story unfolds, the villain’s actions reveal their true nature, making the reader despise them more with each encounter.
Q: You’ve lived in various places, including South Florida, and now you’re back in Texas. Can you share what influenced this move and how these locations have impacted your writing?
A: We lived in South Florida for years, enjoying water sports and forming close friendships. But with the kids grown and scattered globally, Texas called us back. I’m a fifth-generation Texan, and those roots run deep. Living away made me realize the emotional pull Texas has, something I even felt while working in London, listening to Jerry Jeff Walker’s ‘London Homesick Blues.’
Our time in Florida was invaluable. It inspired the Roy Cruise Series, which isn’t done yet. But returning to Texas stirred a nostalgia that led to ‘Killing Johnny Miracle.’ It felt like coming full circle
Q: Is there a particular scene in ‘Killing Johnny Miracle’ that was your favorite to write?
A: There are several different steps along the way where Johnny gets some of what he deserves. Those scenes were probably the most fun to write. And of course, everything that had to do with Ruby Yi was just fun fun fun
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from “Killing Johnny Miracle,” and what’s next for you?
A: Above all, I want readers to find “Killing Johnny Miracle” entertaining. While themes and tropes are technically interesting, a good read is the ultimate goal. As for what’s next, I have several projects in the pipeline, mainly in the revenge genre, with my fifth novel set for a 2024 release.
Killing Johnny Miracle is available now from Amazon
for Kindle, in paperback and hardback.