I “met” Alicia McKenna Johnson last summer in an online workshop, and today I’m welcoming her to my blog to tells us a little about her writing and her new YA Fantasy novel, Phoenix Child!
Alica writes about snarky girls, kind boys, and the adults trying to keep them alive. After day dreaming for the first thirty years of life, Alica finally began writing her stories down, much to the delight of her readers. As Alica sits in her armchair at home dreaming of traveling the world, her diverse characters explore for her listening to music, seeing the sights, and eating exotic foods.
JMP: Have you been published by a big publisher? Small press/epub? Independently? Please share your publishing experience.
AMJ: I only have the one book out, which I have self-published. At times my stomach would get twisted into knots worrying about messing up, but I have read blogs and emailed friends who have self published and found it to be easy, with the right help.
JMP: Isn’t that the truth! One of the best things about indie publishing is the friendships that have come from it -authors helping each other! So what made you decide to take the indie publishing path?
AMJ: I didn’t want my book cut up to meet industry standards. I also didn’t want to wait until someone decided I was worth representing, patience isn’t a gift of mine.
JMP: Haha, me either! Now that you’ve tasted the control and flexibility that comes with indie publishing, are you still pursuing a traditional publishing contract, or perhaps an agent?
AMJ: I don’t plan on pursing the traditional publishing path at this time. I won’t rule it out, but right now I’m content.
JMP: Me, too! Glad to hear it’s working out for you. I know one thing I struggle with is time, especially with a day job. What do you do (or have you done) for a day job? Has this informed or inspired your writing in any way?
AMJ: I’ve done all sorts of things, worked in heath food stores, taught natural childbirth classes, been a stay at home homeschooling mom, phone psychic, and now I’m a houseparent at a group home for children remove from their homes by CPS.
In Phoenix Child, Sara my main character, starts out in a group home. Through the series she learns what it means to be part of a family. I’ve seen many people upset because they are offering a home, either being a foster parent or wanting to adopt a child and hurt because the kids don’t seem to care. When in reality, the child doesn’t always understand what they are being offered, having never been part of a family before.
JMP: Have there been any particular events, places, things you’ve seen/heard/read that inspired the overall premise of a book, its events, or any of the characters?
AMJ: I love Cirque du Soleil, the performers are amazingly beautiful and strong. I would love to be able to be in the circus, however I can’t so I write about them.
JMP: That’s what I love about good books – they can take us anywhere! And through our characters, we can live vicariously and do things we would never be able. Most of us have trouble getting to the writing every now and then, if not every day. What keeps you from writing, and how do you handle it? How do you make time for writing?
AMJ: I try very hard to write 1000 words per day. The only way I get this done is by not allowing myself to check my email, facebook, twitter, etc until I met my word goal. The biggest thing that will stop me from writing is my emotional state. If I’m angry, sad, or bitchy I’m probably not going to get any writing done that day.
JMP: LOL, me too! I guess it’s a good thing I have a pretty boring (in a good way!) life. So tell us about your current or upcoming release?
AMJ: Phoenix Child is my debut novel. It’s a YA urban fantasy which I hope is interesting enough for teens and adults to enjoy.
Sara’s dream is to find her family but she doesn’t count on discovering magical creatures or catching on fire. On her fourteenth birthday a surprise inheritance changes her appearance, abilities, and identity. Welcomed into the family of the Phoenix she is taught to use her new powers. Will Sara embrace being a Child of Fire or will the evil that killed her parents destroy her as well?
JMP: Phoenix Child sounds like a really cool story! It’s on my list TBR.
You can download the first 30 pages or purchase Phoenix Child on Amazon and Smashwords.
Got a question for Alicia? Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing for a free copy in the format of your choice. I’ll do the drawing with Random.org between 6PM EDT and midnight tomorrow (Friday), so speak up to win!
UPDATE: The winner of an e-copy of Phoenix Child is Emma Burcart! Emma, Alicia will be in touch to see what format you’d like. Everyone, thanks for your comments!