Author Spotlight: Alica McKenna Johnson

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Alica McKenna Johnson to the blog.  She just released her first YA fantasy.  Congrats!  Here’s a little about the book.

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?


I personally love the phoenix myth.  What made you choose it as the focus for your book?

Phoenixes have a lot of different gifts and there are myths about them all over the world, which made them more dynamic to work with. They also had myths about shifting into humans, which made it easier for them to mate with humans. 🙂

Will this be a series?

Yes, my editor is making me plot it out right now, which as a pantser is a challenge. So far to get all the elements I want I’ll need to write eight or nine books.

Wow!  You’ve got a lot ahead of you.  If your book was turned into a movie, who would play your top characters?

Wow- such a fun question. Wait a second I must confer with hubby. Okay because my main characters are so young- Sara is fourteen at the start of the book, I’d love to have some new actors. One thing I would insist on is they are the correct race, it makes me mad when they cast actors of different ethnic backgrounds for roles.  But for some of my older characters let’s see. I would adore it if Nathan Fillion or Huge Laurie played Philip, Karl Yun for Shin, Kareena Kapoor for Anali, and for Gavin, James Marsden.

But to be honest, I’m much more interested in watching or hand picking who will be preforming all the circus stunts. 🙂

Lol, sounds like you’ll need your own Cirque Du Soleil.  Which authors have influenced you the most?  Not necessarily in writing style, but in any form of inspiration.

There are so many amazing authors out there with great stories of trials, struggles, and success. But in all honesty a wonderful group of fan fiction authors was a huge influence. Not only did all the differences in their stories teach me so much about writing but the support I got from that community as a newbie author was amazing.

As an author, what’s your biggest fear?

Of course I am scared of the first negative review and I know I’ll get one, I won’t be able to make everyone happy. But my real fear is being slammed for grammar and spelling mistakes. I suck at grammar and spelling, it is my greatest weakness as an author and why I am so grateful to Kilian Metcalf for all of her time and patience in helping me edit my book.

I think a lot of people assume that being a good storyteller means automatic grammar skills.  Gotta love our editors!  What aspect of writing are you currently working on improving in your own craft?

My pacing and balancing my description whore tendencies.

Haha, I’m working on adding more description!  You went the self-publishing route—want to tell us a little about your decision?

Mainly I’m a control freak, and didn’t want someone messing with my book to meet ‘current industry standards’, especially since even after trimming my book is 98,000 words. Also because of how much work even traditionally published authors have to do on their own to promote themselves I decided to try and do it on my own.

I can definitely relate.  What activities do you enjoy when you’re not writing?

I love watching movies, especially foreign films. I go for hikes with my family. Hit the gym with a friend several times a week. And of course reading.

Your book is YA Fantasy—is there another genre you’d like to write in the future?

To give myself a break between book 2 and 3, and honestly because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for book 3, I’m working on a contemporary paranormal romance. I’m calling it Poltergeist meets Ghost Adventures.

I also have story ideas for other contemporary and gay romance stories all with paranormal/ metaphysical themes.

Ooh, sounds fun!  I love the cover—who designed it?

Thank you, I’m thrilled with it. My hubby designed and painted it for me. After years of listening to me talk about my story and characters he had a clear idea of what he wanted it to look like and it’s perfect.

That is so neat!  Will he be designing subsequent covers? 

Yes, he’s working on a back cover for the print version, and he has ideas for book 2- eventually I guess I’ll have to think of a title.

(I’m stealing this last question from my interview with Alica.  :-P)  What mad-ass survival skill do you have?

Does marrying someone with mad-ass survival skills count? And my son has done survival training so I know how to surround myself with bad ass-ness LOL! Um let’s see, I have more helping-rebuild-society skills. I can knit and know how to help a woman give birth- if there aren’t major problems.

Lol, yeah, that counts.  Thanks for hanging out over here today!

Angela thank you so much for having me- these have been great questions and super fun to try and figure out!


You can find Alica on her Blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Her book can be found at Smashwords and Amazon.

Got a question for Alica?  Do you love phoenix stories?  I love hearing from you!