Fantasy and Family: Author Alicia McKenna Johnson, with Giveaway

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 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!

14 Responses to \

  1. Phoenix Child is on my TBR list! Alica, I am the same way when I write–I can’t get on the internet first or writing just doesn’t happen. Same with bad mood days, unless I can somehow channel it into a scene 🙂 Glad to get to know you more Alica!
    Thanks Jennette for the great interview.

  2. Jannette- thank you so much for having me- I had a great time answering your questions!
    I’m thrilled to be giving away a copy of my book- I haven’t done this yet 🙂

  3. Coleen- bad moods and the internet will get me everytime. I actually have two ‘angst’ stories that I write on only when I’m pissed and can’t get over it- they will hopefully never see the light of day!

  4. Thanks for the interview! I’m aiming for that 1,000 words a day now too. (Having a hard time with it today, though!) You were a phone psychic, Alica? Fascinating. Congrats on the book! Best wishes.

  5. Thanks Julie! Some days my 1000 words are blog posts just to get it done. And yes for a short time I was a phone phychic- all I have to say those trashy talk show they don’t need to hire actors. Eeep!

  6. I Loved Pheonix Child and am eagerly awaiting it’s sequel. I think I need to make a similar rule about the internet, but it is my one way to relax after my multiple jobs. Maybe when I quit one of my jobs.

    I wanted to comment, but don’t put me in your drawing. I already own the book and would rather see it go to someone who hasn’t. More people need to know how wonderful Alica’s book is!

  7. Charis- you are too sweet! I’m blushing 🙂 I’m working on edits for book 2 but with my computer down it’s slow going. Thankfully its backed up.

  8. Really enjoyed this interview! I would have finished Pheonix Child if I hadn’t locked myself away last week and not allowed myself to work on anything but my own project! I am loving the book. So far I can say, two thumbs up Alicia. 🙂

  9. Debra- I don’t even want to admit how many times I’ve misspelled Phoenix- seriously it’s bad LOL! I’m glad you’re getting your writing done and I hope you enjoy the rest when you get a chance to read again.

  10. Fun interview! I am so impressed to read that at least one person can write without being sidetracked by the internet. I think I need to find a way to block it off from myself in the morning. But, I’m so not that tech-savvy. 🙂

  11. Charis – thanks for stopping by, even though you already have the book!

    Debra – I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying it! I’ll count you out of the drawing, too – but thanks for stopping by!

    Emma – I’m impressed, too! The only way I can go no-net is to go somewhere where wifi doesn’t work, LOL! Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Great interview, Jennette. I enjoyed getting to know Alicia. Wow, all those jobs you’ve had, Alicia. Great stuff for your stories. Taught natural childbirth classes, so cool. Do many people go the natural route these days? I had all four of mine natural. I think the job you work at now tells a lot about you. It takes a special person to do this type of job. Congrats on the publication of your first book. Such a special time in your life, and it sounds like a great read!