Writer Wednesday Interview with AlicaMcKenna-Johnson (#WW)

Today This Blog Blank welcomes author Alica McKenna-Johnson, author of the newly released Phoenix Child. Welcome, Alica!

This Blog Blank: I like to start each interview by giving the author a chance to discuss their latest work. I’m sure since you just released your first novel, you must be excited. What can you share with us about it?

Alica McKenna-Johnson: Phoenix Child is a YA urban fantasy novel set in San Francisco. Sara has grown up in group homes, with only her mother’s journal as any kind of family connection. When she turns fourteen she wakes up to find that not only has her physical appearance changed, but she now has supernatural powers that she doesn’t really want.

Because of these changes her uncle is able to find her. So not only does Sara have to figure out who she is now, but she needs to learn to be part of a family, and decide if she’s going to accept her destiny or hide from it.

TBB: What was your inspiration for writing the story?

AMJ: It was a ‘what if’. I was reading about Selkies and how the males would shift into their human form and seduce human women, but the stories say they can only come ashore once every seven years. I thought that was crap- those Selkie men lied so they could sleep around. Then I began wondering if the children from those unions had magical powers, and soon my brain was off on all kinds of craziness. I think the basic idea of the modern descendants of magical creatures went through 5 incarnations before Phoenix Child was formed.

TBB: When I fall in love with a book, invariably it’s when I can get lost in the descriptions – when it becomes real – sound, image, etc. Other people I know skip the descriptions and go straight to the dialogue. As writers, we are fortunate in being able to get lost in worlds we create. What causes you to get lost when you are writing a book?

AMJ: I am a description whore! In my critique group I’m always being asked to tone down the description- “Alica you don’t need 10 color words on one page.” I basically vomit everything in my head onto the page and rely on others to help me weed through it.

I want full sensory emersion into a book, and I hope I’ve created that with mine.

TBB: I love to ask writers this one. What book(s) do you wish you’d written? Why?

AMJ: I knew this was coming and I still don’t have an answer. Part of me, of course, wants to say Harry Potter, because I love them and she made so much money.  Another part want of me wants to pick something more lyrical and classic, like the Velveteen Rabbit it’s such a beautiful story and I adore the way it’s written. However I am going to say the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich because not only can she make me laugh out loud in public, but I can clearly remember scenes from her books that I haven’t read in years. And that is an awesome thing to be able to do as an author.

TBB: You are granted one wish, and are allowed to choose any writer, living or dead, as your mentor? Whom do you choose?

AMJ: But we’re all such crazy unstable people!  Mark Twain- that man was trouble, and I don’t know how much writing I would learn, but I would have a darn good time hanging out with him.

TBB: When I write, I tend to see it in my head, often beforehand, as a movie. It’s either that I’m a visual thinker, or I have a brain tumor. When you write, how does the story unfold for you?

AMJ: It’s more bit by bit. It is very visual, however until I get a scene written down it loops in my head over and over again. I can even just write a few words to solidify it, but until I have something written there it is in my brain. I do have a general idea of what will happen in my story- or at least a beginning, middle and end but how they get there usually surprises me.

TBB: Do you call yourself an artist when you are around non-artists? How about when you are alone?

AMJ: Wow- um- no I don’t call myself an artist, although I would call other writers artists. I’m still getting used to calling myself an author without devaluing it by adding, ‘but I’m only self published’.  Even though I don’t feel that way about other self-published authors. We’re always harder on ourselves right?

TBB: (Sigh) Yes, we are.

TBB: Let’s pretend civilization as we know it has come to an end. You are allowed exactly one TV series, one author’s books, or one singer/musician’s complete works by the Ministry of the Arts. If you cheat, you die. Which do you choose, and whose works?

AMJ: What a horrid thought. Well, first I would establish a co-op so we could share, or become some badass vigilante stealing and freeing art for everyone! But what would I pick? I think I’ll go with Janet Evanovich because she’s written a lot and I would need to laugh in that kind of a world.

TBB: There are almost infinite definitions of success as a writer, or just as a person. What’s your definition of success?

AMJ: I want to be able to support my family with my writing. That would be freeing. But I want people to love my characters and the worlds I’ve create enough to write fan fiction about it. If there was a site dedicated to Phoenix Child fanfic I would be beyond thrilled.

TBB: If you could define the perfect reader for your book, that group you are certain would love it if only they gave it a chance, who would those people be? Here, I’m less thinking about marketing and demographics, than I am personality or lifestyle traits.

AMJ: Someone who is/was afraid to accept who they are and how powerful and amazing they are. Someone who feels / has felt lost, alone, and unsure of what to do. Someone who wants to get lost in a world, be inspired to take steps in their own life to make it amazing.

TBB: How can they find your work?

AMJ: You can find Phoenix Child at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Child-ebook/dp/B007AK6DRW/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329539659&sr=1-3

Or Smash words https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/133873

Bill, thank you so much for letting me hang out on your blog today, and for asking such great questions- I think my brain hurts a little bit. J

Well, if there’s pain, my work is done. Heh. 🙂

15 Comments

  1. jana denardo says:

    It sounds like a really interesting book. Good luck with it.

  2. Bill Thank you so much for the interview- I had a ton of fun. Sorry I’m so late in replying- life got beyond crazy for a bit.
    I did get to finish reading Discovery- wonderful book. I’ll review it when my head stops pounding and I can’t write full sentences again LOL!

    1. Yay! I’m glad you liked it. I do intend on reading yours. I agree with Jana; you made it sound very interesting.

      1. Thanks Bill 🙂 I had the worst time trying to write that darn blurb- it was harder then the book!

        1. I know what you mean; I suck at blurbs.

  3. Hi Alicia-
    Your inner description whore helps the rest of your critique partners, especially those of us who are description challenged. 🙂 Congratulations on the book. I know you will do well.

  4. Great interview! And I love this: “Someone who wants to get lost in a world, be inspired to take steps in their own life to make it amazing.” Much success, Alica!

    1. Thank you Rhonda I am grateful for all your support.

  5. WOW! That cover still gets me – it’s so striking! I really enjoyed this interview, Alica, and learned a lot about you. You also make me interested in reading Janet Evanovich. Of course I’ve heard of her but never read any of her Stephanie Plum novels. And I love your perfect reader: ” Someone who is/was afraid to accept who they are and how powerful and amazing they are. Someone who feels / has felt lost, alone, and unsure of what to do. Someone who wants to get lost in a world, be inspired to take steps in their own life to make it amazing.” Very cool, Alica.

    1. Patti thank you so much!! I adore my cover 🙂 Bill asked really great questions- things I’d never thought about.

  6. Alicia, what a fun glimpse of your process and the story behind the story! And thanks to Bill for some thought-provoking questions!

    1. Thanks Jannette! It was a lot of fun.

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