Welcome to a world where anything is possible. A world where magic and fantasy come together. What? You didn’t know you were in such a place? Have you gotten lost? We celebrate the impossible here. As a writer of fantasy, I like indulging my inner child and believing that every now and again, magic can happen to you. If not in the real world, then through the stories we tell and the books we read. Today, I am pleased to have a fellow fantasy author here with me. Please welcome Alica McKenna Johnson, author of the newly published young adult fantasy, Phoenix Child. Come on, let’s hear that cyber applause.
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?
*Turns to Alicia* Welcome to the blog, Alica. Congratulations on the new book, Phoenix Child. What a wonderful accomplishment!
Thank you so much Debra! It’s very exciting finally having my years of work become something tangible and real.
Tell me, Alicia, what is it about this part of the story you like so much?
Wow- there’s a lot I love about this story. I love that I get to share how difficult it can be for a group home kid to adjust to a family. I love all of my diverse characters, the magical creatures, and in the future books they travel around the world- so I’m having a great time researching other countries, their myths and legends, and of course their food!
Sounds like such fun research. What a great excuse to constantly try new things. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that your books take off and you can actually visit all these places you are researching! Can you tell us what inspired the idea of the circus school?
My son took lessons in aerial silks when he was younger, with our local circus school. One year for camp, I flew him to San Francisco, where my parents live, and he went to the San Francisco Circus Center for two weeks. All of the descriptions of circus stuff are based on my son and daughter having taken classes and telling me how it felt to do certain things.
That’s so cool! Do you have any secret super powers we should know about?
I don’t know about super secret, but I am rather empathetic. Not like mind reading or I know exactly what you’re feeling, but I pick up on people’s emotions pretty intensely- being in crowds can be very overwhelming.
Wow. I should interview you for one of my characters (rubs hands together). So, did you always know you wanted to self-publish?
No, I didn’t start out writing with the intent to self-publish, but the more I learned about the industry and the more attached I got to my characters and the story the more I liked the idea. Being a control freak, I really don’t want someone else messing about in my story, especially because I do have characters with ethnic, religious, and sexual diversity. I didn’t want that messed with.
I can understand that. You have a lot more control with the path you chose. Can you tell us something about you that we can’t learn from your bio or blog. Delight us with laughter if you like, we won’t complain!
My husband keeps a stash of Snickers bars somewhere in the house surprising me with them whenever I’m in a bad mood. I always feel better 🙂
What a sweetheart! That wouldn’t stay hidden around here for long. LOL. Speaking of your husband, I understand he created the cover art for this book. Did you give him full artistic license or did you have a concept he built upon?
Rod has listened to me talk/plot/vent/complain about this book for years so, when it came to the cover, he knew exactly how it should look, and he was right.
That’s wonderful! It’s good to have a mate that understands you and your needs. 🙂 I have heard you are planning more books in this series. What can we look forward to in these future books? Will they revolve around Sara or others?
Sara stays the main character, they’re all first person from her POV, however she does travel with a group. So as Sara learns about them so do we. In book two they are in Argentina and then Peru, and book three will take place in Great Britain. There will be more magical creatures, circus fun, and run in with the Sons of Belial.
Ah, yes. The Sons of Belial. Ultimately we know what needs to happen there, don’t we. Can you tell us about a book that resonated with you (either recently or prior to your writing career)?
There have been so many! But one that sticks out in my mind in The Rice Mother, it’s about a young woman in India who marries – via an arranged marriage. I think what struck me about this book is our modern assumption that, if people are not free, they are miserable and helpless. It was amazing to watch how much power and control this woman squeezed out of her life.
Last question, I promise. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and what would be your preferred form of travel to get there?
India, I have always wanted to go to India. And since you gave me a preferred method of travel, I’m going to cheat just a little bit and say I would love to take the train from London to India that way I get to see a lot of Europe and the Middle East.
Now that would be something amazing! My grandmother went to India and spent months there. It changed her life. I hope you get to go.
Now, I have a surprise for you all. It took some finagling, but I talked Alicia into sharing one of her favorite snippets from the book. Remember, you saw it here! A scene from Phoenix Child.
“He (Taliesin) looks really good today,” Jane whispered to me as we headed to the trapeze.
I agreed; he was wearing a gray tee shirt and matching sweat pants. His white hair was soft around his face. “He always looks like that.”
“Yes, and he’s yummy.”
I just laughed. “He’s all yours.”
“I don’t think so,” sneered one of the Perky Girls. “If he belongs to anyone, it’s one of us. Why would he want either of you, anyway?”
All four of them looked us over with obvious distaste.
Normally I would just walk away, but I could feel Jane’s shame and desire to hide, and that pissed me off. “Well, I’m sure if Taliesin is into cheap and easy, he’ll be handing you his phone number any second.” I pointedly looked at all of their exposed cleavage.
Jane choked on her laughter and tugged on my arm trying to pull me to the trapeze.
“If you’ve got it, flaunt it, right girls?” Perky number two cheered. The others agreed with her.
“Flaunting and advertising a fifty percent off sale are two different things.” I retaliated. “Seriously, look at Taliesin. Everything he is wearing is designer, clean, and perfect. Why would he ever go for common, used goods?”
“Ladies,” Taliesin said his voice cold. “Is there a reason no one is following my instructions?”
I could feel how uncomfortable Taliesin was; he’d heard every word. I was glad I wasn’t getting the full intensity of emotion from everyone.
“No,” I answered before anyone else could. “We were just discussing how refined your tastes are.”
“Somehow I don’t see how that will help you in this class. Get to work. Jane, I overheard you saying how much work you put into the exercises this week, I’d like to see if it has helped.” Taliesin held out his hand and ushered us to the far trapeze.
“That was so awesome!” Jane whispered.
I could feel the angry glares in my back, and smirked. “Thank you, I’m rather happy right now.”
I just LOVE that tease! If you haven’t checked out Phoenix Child and Alicia McKenna Johnson, please do. Her story is a wonderful weave of magic and storytelling. Thank you so much for gracing my blog today Alicia. It has been a pleasure.
Alica McKenna Johnson 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.