29 November, 2015

#SpecialFeature :: #Interview with Alica McKenna Johnson, #Author of Phoenix Child Series

*** Special Feature - November 2015 ***

Quick recap of this month's posts:

About the Author
Being told she was a horrible speller and would never learn to use a comma correctly, Alica never thought to write down the stories she constantly had running through her head. Doesn't everyone daydream about flying on a spaceship while walking to school? 
Not until she was thirty did Alica dare to write down any of the people living exciting lives in her head. The relief was instantaneous. By giving them life on the page they could be released from her mind and given greater adventures. 
As her books grew in size and the voices in her head learned to wait their turn, Alica found a loyal group to journey with. Women who would help her slay her commas, and use their magical gifts to traverse plot holes, transform words into their proper spelling, and release characters from any Mary Sue spells they might be under. 
In-between magical adventures, Alica is mom to two personal kids, five foster kids, has one exceptional hubby, a bunny she knows is plotting her death, and some fish, aka her daughter's minions. 

Contact Her
Website I Facebook I Twitter I Goodreads

Interview with the Author

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller? 
For as long as I can remember I’ve had stories running through my head, but I didn’t think to write them down until I was in my thirties and found fanfiction. It was a safe creative place to explore writing. 

What inspires you to write? 
Everything. Things I overhear people say, places I see, TV, movies, books, and the crazy ‘what ifs’ that run through my head. 

What kind of research goes into your book? 
In the Children of Fire Series each book takes place in a different country, so I do quite a bit of research. I want to make it as authentic and real as possible, so I try and find people who have been to that country and harass them with questions. I read fiction books and watch movies about/from the country. I read children’s books, the ones they use for school reports, because they tend to have a lot of sensory information and fun facts to help create connections between kids from different countries. And I watch travel shows about the country, which is probably why I’m stalling on starting book 5 in the series. It takes place in India and, wow, such a huge diverse country I’m not sure where to start! 

What are you working on at the moment? 
Well, I’m doing NaNoWriMo and I’m working on a steampunk/demon hunting/ young adult novel called Kwan Yin’s Vessel. 

Please share three interesting facts about the characters in your book.  
1) I never know everything about them, and I am often surprised as they reveal their likes and dislikes. 
2) They are what I wish I could be.  
3) I cry when I write scenes where they are hurt. 

Name three things that you believe are important to character development.
1) They must be sympathetic; I have to care about a character to want to keep reading. 
2) They must have a fatal flaw, something that makes getting to their goal difficult.  
3) When creating a group of characters I want diversity: religions, race, sexuality, and physical ability. I want to see it and that’s what I create in my own books. 

Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so what helps you to get over it? 
Yes, usually it means I’ve done something wrong, I’ve forgotten a character, left out a plot point, or gone off in the wrong direction. I re-read that last chapter or so and go and do something mundane: clean, cook, go for a walk and my subconscious will usually sort it out. 

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most? 
When I hit that creative flow and my fingers can’t type as fast as the story is coming to me.

Do you know the ending of your books before you finish writing them? 
Yes, I know the ending, a few highlights along the way, but the rest is a mystery. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Don’t be afraid to write crap. It sounds bad, right? But it’s true. You can’t edit a blank page and sometimes you just have to let go and write crap until the good stuff starts flowing again. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing? 
Join a writer’s group. The support and information can be amazing and more helpful than you realize. 

Anything else that you would like to share with your readers? 
I’m so excited to begin this journey with you! I’m not sure where the Children of Fire series is going to take us, in my head it’ll be seven books, but I’m excited to find out and have company along the way. 

About the Books

There should be a law, a Universal Rule, as to how much weirdness can happen to a person. 
Fifteen-year-old Sara walks into the San Francisco Center for the Circus Arts determined to ignore the freaky things happening to her. As powers she doesn't want and can't control overwhelm her, Sara must decide if she can trust the strangers who say they are her family ... descended from a common ancestor four thousand years ago.
Sara clings to her contented and well-planned life as a foster kid, successfully working the system, as dreams, powers, and magical creatures drag her towards her destiny. 
When the ancient evil that killed her parents comes to San Francisco, Sara is forced to choose between her fears and her desire to protect those she loves. 
Sometimes great things are thrust upon us. Sara wishes this supposed 'greatness' didn't include a new name, unicorns, and catching on fire. 

First an ancient Phoenix King and Queen and now a sleeping Mayan god, could Sapphire’s life get any weirder?
Sapphire. 15 years old, strong, intelligent, with newly acquired Phoenix powers. She travels through South America, with her recently-discovered family. Performing with Cirque de Feu Magique as a cover, the Children of Fire respond to the need of magical creatures to return home to Akasha. 
Powerful beings take a dangerous interest in the creatures they are called to save. The challenges of growing leadership and conflict with a Mayan god force Sapphire to realize she’s stronger than she thought.

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-  $25 Amazon Gift Card
- DVD of Worlds Away by Cirque du Soleil
- Signed Copies of Phoenix Child and Legacy of the Feathered Serpent

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