I am super-psyched to introduce you Alica McKenna Johnson today. She’s not new to my blog – you can check out her guest post here – but she’s recently released her novel PHOENIX CHILD, which is super-exciting news, any way you slice it. This seems like a fabulous time for you to get to know her a little better, don’tchya think? Check out the little Q&A we had the other day…
ME: Alica! Your new book has just been published, which is so very cool. The day after PHOENIX CHILD was available online, what was the first thing you did when you woke up?
ALICA: Great question! Nothing too exciting. I was working, so up at 5:20 AM, opened the computer and logged in. Then I woke up the first child, checked email, squealed at seeing two more purchased from Smashwords, got kids to bus by 6AM, woke my two personal kids (hubby was also working), woke two more work kids, when they were done in the bathroom woke final two work kids, made breakfast and managed to get them all off to school while obsessively checking Amazon, Smashwords, Facebook, and Twitter.
ME: Holy cow, woman, you are busy! Six kids, four of which are foster kids (is that the right term?)…it makes my head spin.
Quick, which do you relate most to? Hamster in a wheel, kangaroo with a pouch full of rowdy joeys, or goddess divine who can breeze through anything life throws at her?
ALICA: It’s actually five kids, did I leave one out? The term ‘foster’ works, but I’m technically a houseparent in a group home.
I like to imagine that I’m a divine goddess, but really I think I’m more a kangaroo desperately trying to keep everything together. Hey, what happened to my opposable thumbs? I need those!
ME: Okay, first of all, anybody who’s a houseparent immediately gets rockstar status in my book. Secondly, opposable thumbs are an absolute necessity. How else would I drag the offspring around by their ears all day long? And thirdly, I clearly can’t count, because now I totally see that you listed five kiddos, not six. Scary thing, isn’t it, to think that I’m responsible for teaching my kids math…
ALICA: Don’t worry, Myndi. Your kids will help you learn math. :)
As for rockstar status, I don’t know about that. Most of the time I’m desperately trying not to lose my temper!
ME: That’s okay – I’ve heard rockstars have been known to lose their tempers a time or two…
Hey, speaking of homeschooling, you’ve been down that path before, and are looking to start up again. In the spirit of homeschooling camaraderie, riddle me this: What’s the silliest question you’ve had to fend from non-homeschooling folks?
ALICA: I loved homeschooling, and most of the people we hung out with either home-schooled, or were alternative thinking, so I didn’t get too much flack. But while we were on vacation in Denver some guy in a shop asked my son some weird question about a quarter – it might have been who was on it, or what the newest state quarter was? All I remember was thinking he was crazy and a regular school kid wouldn’t know the answer!
My mom used to worry that my son was ‘too smart and active’ to be home-schooled. And of course, there’s the ‘but what if you don’t know it?’ question. Umm…I look it up? I learned a ton homeschooling my kids.
ME: As I’m sure you’re well aware (because I can’t seem to shut my yapper about it), I’m about ready to pop out my fourth child. You’ve mentioned in passing that you’ve home-birthed more than once. Again, rockstar status is in order here. I kind-of dig the idea, but I’ve never been able to get the Hubster on board. How did you convince your Hunny it was the thing to do?
ALICA: Well, with my first hubby – once I stopped crying, realizing I was unmarried, 19, and pregnant – I said, ‘By the way, you know I’m having this baby at home.’ He wasn’t sold on the idea, but once we went to Bradley Child Birthing Classes, he was good with it. We felt very secure with the midwife I picked. Good thing, too, because he almost delivered Logan by himself!
Hubby #2 is as alternative as I am and dislikes hospitals as much as I do, so that one was easy.
I was blessed with a midwife that I trusted, and easy, healthy pregnancies. I’m so glad I had my babies at home, and have even been invited to attend a few births. So amazing…and I always hold my breath until the baby cries.
ME: Isn’t that first cry of life the most amazing, relieving thing?
ALICA: It’s amazing. I don’t think I can describe it. Just thinking about it fills me with hope and joy.
ME: How old are your kiddos now, and what’s the one thing that sticks out in your mind that motherhood has taught you?
ALICA: Let’s see…my kiddos are 17 and 12. What has motherhood taught me? That being a good parent is more than just how you raise your children, it’s also how much work you’re willing to do to become a better person so you can show your kids how they can be their best. Does that make sense?
ME: Absolutely! So much is taught through observation. I don’t think we can underestimate how much they learn from us when we don’t realize they’re watching.
Back to this book of yours. What did it feel like when you got to the place with your manuscript and realized, “THIS IS DONE!”?
ALICA: At first I was shocked. I just stared at the computer screen. Then I jumped for joy and told everyone I could think of. Then I realized I still had to edit and revise, and then I wanted to cry just a little bit. Okay, a lot. But after some moral support and chocolate, I pulled myself together.
ME: Mmmmm, chocolate. Favorite kind?
ALICA: Is there any bad chocolate? LOL. I do prefer dark chocolate, and I like quality chocolate. No cheap stuff for me.
ME: …can we still be friends if I admit I have a love affair with Hershey’s with almonds?
ME: Um….back to PHOENIX CHILD, shall we? *grins awkwardly and throws Hershey’s wrapper behind sofa* Give me a fast run-down of what the book’s about.
ALICA: PHOENIX CHILD is a Young Adult Urban Fantasy. Sara lives in a group home and is trying to make the best of her life in the system. Waking up the morning of her fourteenth birthday, she finds her appearance has changed, and she has powers – like bursting into flames – that she doesn’t want.
Soon she finds a family. Not only others like her, but an uncle she never knew existed shows up in her life. Confronted by the evil that killed her parents, Sara has to decide if she will let her fears win, or find the courage to accept her destiny and save her people.
ME: Sounds totally fantastic! Who do you think would most enjoy PHOENIX CHILD?
ALICA: I hope I have written a book that will appeal to teens and adults. I know so many adults who love YA that I didn’t want to focus on just one age group.
ME: Where can folks purchase your book?
ALICA: You can purchase PHOENIX CHILD at Amazon and Smashwords. Both places have a free preview – 30 pages, I think.
ME: Lovely! Thanks for stopping by Alica!
ALICA: Thanks for having me, Myndi. I’ve had a great time.