Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Author Interview ~ Alicia J. Britton


Today’s post makes 72 Author Interviews and 10 Wattpad Author Interviews on this blog.

I’ve been waiting quite awhile for Alicia’s busy life to calm enough for this interview and I’m exceptionally eager to begin.

One thing, though

I’ve only read the first book of her Fairy Tale series; and, the situation I’m in—trying to read one work from all my followers on Wattpad—using Wattpad to aid promotion of my booksmeans I haven’t been able to read the rest of the series :-(

Enough about me—On With The Interview :-)

But first, I must share Alicia’s blurb from Wattpad:

“Once upon a time, I was discouraged and underemployed as a scientist. Then one day, I began the ultimate ‘Fairy Tale’ adventure. I found myself in the fairy city of Pyxis, and despite the challenges in my reality, I kept going back there as often as I could. Alongside Christopher MacRae, I held a sword for the first time and fought for survival in a world that was not kind. I felt his pain, his grief, his angst. I experienced the power of love, evil, and magic—three distinct entities with blurred lines since love was forbidden, evil was unrelenting, and magic had a way of falling into the hands of the undeserving. . . .”

~~~~~~~~~ Alicia J. Britton ~ Author

Alicia, please give us a bit of background about yourself.

I live in upstate New York. I’ve left it twice, once for Massachusetts and once for Vermont, and I’ve returned to it twice. I guess you could say I’m a New Yorker to the core and no matter what, I’ll never quite “find my place” anywhere else.

Moving on to my resume, I’m technically a molecular biologist. But I haven’t been actively employed in science since 2011. That’s because: A) I’m a mother of three—two boys (10 and 7) and a baby girl (3), B) the only jobs available in my area didn’t make working in my family’s best interest—they either didn’t pay enough to offset the cost of daycare or the bosses were too demanding and unrealistic, and C) I really enjoy writing. My stories will inevitably be where I invest my mental energy.

I never considered writing as a career until I was well on my way to becoming a scientist. As a biologist, my work was heavily dependent on microscopy. I was staring through an eyepiece or at a computer screen for HOURS a day. There were times when I entered a “dreamlike” state and I felt inclined to do something with the ideas I came up with. Now I technically have more time to write, but I can’t quite achieve the same degree of brainstorming. And that’s okay. I’ve been writing now for almost seven years and I’d like to think I’m better at my job than I once was. I can work through or around the cartoons, kids whining, hustling to various activities, the lawn mowers, doorbells, and hourly calls from telemarketers, etc. When I’m out and about, I use my phone to jot down ideas and I catch up on my reading and networking. That’s the great thing about writing and the inconvenient part of it, too. I never know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing when that great idea strikes, or an opportunity comes along that I shouldn’t pass up.

What else? With my lifestyle, it’s hard to have hobbies. I was once a decent musician, though, and I still feel the pull. Since I can’t practice as much as I should, I do like to incorporate music into my stories. It’s actually a big part of some of my more recent projects (more on that later). And last year I had a great time matching pop songs with chapters in the YA romance, Full Twist, and I’m happy with how well it all worked out.

My characters do tend to keep up with my hobbies better than I do, but at least I get to be right with them as they experience the drama, glory, the let-downs, the rivalries, and so forth. As they say, write about what you know and love. And I was a busy, competitive thing in my youth and I had many interests. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of inspiration for stories in the future.

I heard you were taking a break from your Fairy Tale series. What are you working on now?

Faity Tale ~ Winter's Bite Fairy Tale: Winter’s Bite was my first serious writing project. There’s so much heart there and so much of me in it, and it was written during a very tumultuous time. I should have been focusing on other things, but the project took on a life of its own. It’s now a series, with two prequels, Disgrace (P1) and Oahu Sunset (P2), and a sequel, The Rising Star. I wouldn’t say I’m taking a “break”—I’m just doing what’s best for the series. I intend to focus the next part of the year promoting Winter’s Bite and it should help the series as a whole. Fairy Tale ~ The Rising Star

That, of course, doesn’t mean I’ve stopped writing. Although I could be working on the third Fairy Tale installment, tentatively titled Son of Grace, I had an opportunity this spring to delve into the past instead. Oahu Sunset wasn’t on my yearly to-do list, but it swooped in and placed itself at the top. The short story goes back thirteen years and fills in the time gap between Disgrace and Winter’s Bite. That means the MacRae brothers are teenagers. Fairy Tale readers will definitely recognize some of their tendencies, but otherwise, Chris isn’t quite as broody and angsty, and Joe is at an age where life is still “unfair”. When it comes to his older brother, that attitude lingers for him. The story will take you to the source of the brotherly friction. It’ll only get worse once life starts giving them things and then taking some of those things away.

For some reason, I’ve been a seasonally inclined writer this year. Oahu Sunset is a summer fantasy/romance. And over the winter, I was trying to finish Songs of the Season, a YA romance that follows the relationship of two young singers at Christmas time. This is another story where I’ve incorporated music—classical and Christmas. I wanted it to be at a place where I could start posting it on Wattpad in December of 2015. The season was too chaotic, however, and I decided to wait a year. It’ll be a full-length novel and it’s about halfway done. I hope to finish it this fall.

Over the spring, I also began a new summer romance. Do Me a Favor will be my first “Mature” and “New Adult” novel that doesn’t include anything magical or paranormal. It’ll take place at a summer camp and it’s very loosely based on a real location and a former work situation (real people . . . not as much). And I’ve enjoyed weaving in indie/acoustic music to set the mood for some tainted love. It’s not a finished project, but I’m far enough along to let an audience take a look, starting in late June (when “camp” officially begins).

And that’s all for now. I should be able to continue with the Fairy Tale series in early 2017!

Whew! [Alex reminds himself this woman has three children aged 3, 7, and 10………] Is it true that you have a bit of a contest addiction?

Yes, this is true. But I only attempt them if the parameters inspire an idea and the idea can fit within their parameters. Word limits are tricky for me. And if nothing is clicking, I always have other projects to work on. I should probably decline more often. Even honor-winning entries don’t necessarily become “popular” with readers and other writers who aren’t entering that specific contest. But it is a great way to meet people who have similar interests and styles, and enjoy the process, the networking, and the friendly competition. Victory or not, I’m usually happy with how these stories turn out and pleased with the contacts I make. This year, I’ll probably just stick to the #OnceUponNow contest hosted by Wattpad and @target. I hope Oahu Sunset (#ftos) does well there. No matter what happens, it’s another piece of the Fairy Tale saga and I’m glad I’ll have the opportunity to showcase the series.

It’s clear from your Wattpad “bookshelf” that you write in a number of different genres. Is there one you enjoy the most or something you don’t think you’ll ever try?

I’d try anything once and I haven’t come across anything that I wouldn’t try again. Most of my stories contain some element of romance. It could be dark and tragic, short and sweet, unrequited, ordinary, extraordinary, fantastical, you name it. The love is there in some form. So first and foremost, I suppose I’m a romance writer. I like to make it interesting, though, by mixing it into other genres. That’s for the best because I don’t necessarily agree with the rule that everything should end “happily ever after” (romance industry standards). Life isn’t always like that, and for whatever situation my characters find themselves in, I prefer to “keep it real” when it comes to the relationships. 

Though I usually enjoy a good book in any genre, there are a few things I would hesitate to write. And that’s only because I would want to be more knowledgeable on the topic first. I would love to write a crime, legal, or cyber thriller, for example, but I would have to read up on the material before I could attempt it with any plausibility. If I had that “once in a lifetime” idea in a genre I’m less comfortable with, I would probably hit the library and spend a few months making myself an almost expert.

People sometimes ask me if I’d ever write a science fiction novel. I’ve thought about it. I’ve even had a few good ideas. I’m not against it, but I fear I’m not “diehard” enough to enjoy it. It’s not off the table, but for now, it’s not in the cards. 

Alicia, I must ask—do you have any “weird” writing habits? 

I’m most definitely a morning writer. Ideas seem to flow best with coffee at hand. And I dislike sitting at a desk, so I write with a laptop on the couch or in bed if I can get away with it. If for some reason I can’t sleep, I’m an extremely early morning writer. By evening, though, the creative side of my brain is fried. If I try to force it, I just end up staring at the screen. So I usually switch to reading and/or corresponding. And lately, I’ve rediscovered television. But the show has to hold my attention or I give up easily. If you’re curious, I do occasionally binge watch Game of Thrones, Outlander, The Walking Dead, and The Man on the High Castle (which I highly recommend).

Two-parter here, Alicia: You’ve been a member of Wattpad for almost three years. And you regularly post new work. What keeps you coming back? And: If you could “upgrade” Wattpad, what would you change?

It is a long, painful, depressing process to get traditionally published, even if your story is destined for great things. I’d compare it to being diagnosed with a terminal illness. You seek second opinions, you do your research, try new approaches, and hope for the best (and, if you’re like me, you cry over every setback). And yes, miracles do happen, but

Wattpad, on the other hand, is fun! You sign in and there’s always something going on. Did my numbers go up? Did I get any comments? Who else posted new work? Oh, I have new follows and a few adds on reading lists. Yay! Sure, I’m spending a lot of quality writing time fiddling on the internet and I’m not making that much money off of it (stuff my husband, the real-life entrepreneur, points out). But rejected manuscripts don’t exactly make money. Accepted manuscripts don’t always turn a profit, either. Even most “best-selling” authors can’t retire off their earnings from one book.

In essence, I don’t write for the money. I write for me and for the people who enjoy reading my work. And for that, Wattpad is the place to be. But it’s not the only place to be. I’ve had some success with Amazon and Goodreads as well.

That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally get frustrated with Wattpad. What would I do differently? I’m an ex-scientist and I like things organized. How come I can’t decide how my bookshelf is stacked? Or my library or reading lists? So I’d campaign for rearrangeable lists. On that note, I’d put in a VIP section for the writers I work with regularly. I’d rather not have to recall from memory or scroll through 1,000 profile names to find TwinkleToes521199, for example. I’d also suggest they put in some “screening” for quality—votes don’t automatically mean “good” and neither do high numbers. There is the option for authors to be “Featured”, but above and beyond that, maybe an anonymous panel of Wattpadders could rate stories somehow, kind of like how they give stars to movies. It could help ease reader frustration (and keep them logging in regularly), entice the mainstream “best seller” crowd to give Wattpad a try, and it might help out those writers who truly deserve it.

Those are some dynamite ideas, Alicia!

So [Alex calms himself down…], you’ve chosen to self-publish your Fairy Tale series. You’ve already touched on it; but, could you tell us more about what made you decide to do that rather than pursue a more traditional approach?

I began writing my Fairy Tale series in 2009; and, in 2010 I attempted to do what was recommended at the time: find an agent. I sent out emails, letters, partial manuscripts, whole manuscripts, bios, filled-out online forms . . . whatever they asked for and each agent/publisher had a different set of requirements. I couldn’t save time with “cut and paste”, in other words. I worked hard at it for six months and I had to give up what I loved—writing—to make the effort. I learned a lot in the process and the manuscript did improve as a result. But overall I was disenchanted. Despite what agents claim, they don’t always look at your work and they don’t always reply or give you the feedback they promise, even if they were the ones to request more information. They put in front of you so many locked gateways. Only they have the key and they can turn you away at any time and with very little in the way of an explanation. There are hundreds of thousands of unloved manuscripts out there and even talented writers are just numbers to them.

Though I respect writers who are dedicated and patient with this process, it wasn’t for me. The rejections are just “business”, as they say, but I admit it. I get too emotionally involved and I’m not going to apologize for that. Take it or leave it, that’s who I am and I believe that characteristic makes my writing stronger. And I actually enjoy the steps of the self-publication process. That includes the editing, cover design, and the advertising. Each time I put something out there, the process is quicker and easier for me as well. With a finished manuscript, I can get a book out in a week or less. With regular publishing, it can take years of doing what they tell you to do and many more months waiting for them to fulfill their end of the bargain. Even if I did eventually get through those gateways, I’d lose most of the creative control and the freedom to pursue new ideas.  

I’m happy with my choice, but I do run into some criticism from the traditionalists out there. Supposedly it’s a “dead end” and I’m not “ambitious” enough to play well with the real writers, both the published and the hopefuls who are stuck somewhere in that painfully long process. And I wish them luck and while they’re writing letters, waiting for emails and phone calls, begging and crying . . . I’m doing what I love best . . . writing and sharing that writing with a small audience; but, a captivated audience.

Do I ever hope my work will be “discovered” and taken on by a well-known publisher? Absolutely. I work hard and I am ambitious. But I’m not going to start at the beginning and wait for their approval at all of those locked gateways. Somebody, somewhere would have to give me an alternative or it’s just not worth it to me.

I think we should end right here, Alicia—that’s extremely powerful reasoning…

Thank you, *So Much*, for taking the time to do this interview! I know my readers have discovered much wisdom to ponder

~~~~~~~~~

After you check out Alicia’s links, why not ask her a question in the Comments :-)

Follow Alicia Britton on. . .

Wattpad – @Fairytale_Fabler, #ftwb, #ftos, #ftrs

Facebook – Alicia Britton – Author

Twitter – @alicia_britton

Goodreads

Amazon

Most of the stories mentioned in this interview are free to read on Wattpad. The exceptions are Disgrace (Prequel 1) and Fairy Tale: The Rising Star (Book 2). They are part of the Kindle Direct Publishing program (KDP) and are free to borrow on Amazon Kindle.

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7 responses to “Author Interview ~ Alicia J. Britton

  1. Jane Watson June 2, 2016 at 1:49 am

    Thanks for such an interesting interview, Alicia. I especially loved your honest and well thought out opinion of ‘traditional’ and self publishing. As someone who has been traditionally published I think you hit the nail on the head in your descriptions of what happens in the ‘traditional’ arena. However even ‘well-known publishers’ can sometimes not live up to expectations when they have accepted a work and actually published it. I know of many cases to support this view :-) I agree if a ‘well-known publisher’ offered me what I wanted I *may* accept it again now but I would never sign a contract that gave away my e-book rights or overseas rights or even my long term local rights – I think if traditional publishers want to survive they need to adapt …Nowadays many writers are very well aware of what ‘alternatives’ there may be and what they are entitled to and what they should be able to expect from any publishing venture :-) I wish you every good luck in your writing life. I am sure it will open all the gateways you desire :-)

    Like

    • Alicia Britton June 2, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Hi Jane! Thanks so much for your response. I appreciate the view from the other side and you’ve given us much to think about. The grass isn’t always greener, even with more green in the pocket. I never had the option to “sign,” and of course I know to be careful. But you’ve reminded me to take that up a notch if “opportunity” strikes. I value the control and freedom over the prestige and payout. My work is invaluable to me and I’d want to keep it safe from predatory practices. And I agree that the industry needs to adapt. In an age where so much reading material is free, fast, and convenient, the publishing industry is slow, conservative, and out of touch with what’s truly “trending” out there. It’s a failing business model and I would hesitate to trust even the big names. Who knows if they’ll be around in five years in the same sense?

      I enjoyed reading your interview as well. Best of luck with all your future writing endeavors. :)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Alexander M Zoltai June 2, 2016 at 12:15 pm

        Just in case you didn’t notice, Alicia, there are two interviews with Jane :-)

        Like

  2. glynhockey June 2, 2016 at 6:08 am

    An interesting interview with a very talented writer

    Like

    • Alicia Britton June 2, 2016 at 10:02 am

      Thanks again, Mr. Hockey! Your kindness never ceases to amaze me. :)

      Like

  3. RD Brooks June 2, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Great questions and wonderful insights from a very talented writer. Alicia, your beautiful and compelling writing is always a source of inspiration. It takes tremendous energy and drive to write at your level and doubly challenging when trying to raise a young family. Very interesting to read your thoughts on maneuvering around those ‘locked gates’, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Good luck going forward!

    Like

    • Alicia Britton June 2, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to read this, Bob. I know you’re incredibly busy, too. But you still find a way to spread your enthusiasm. You’re definitely one of the reasons Wattpad is “fun.” I always look forward to reading what you have to say in any context. Even your comments have this buoyancy to them. They are instant mood elevators. :)

      I feel like I encounter “locked gates” all the time in this industry, even in the “free” realm. But I don’t sit there scratching my head and checking my watch. I look for a new path and the journey provides experiences I would have missed otherwise. I throw it all into the pool of inspiration I can then draw from when I’m trying to come up with new stories. And so far, that well hasn’t dried up. Hopefully it never will…

      Best of luck to you, too! For all your triumphs, I look forward to hearing about them. I hope your writing continues to provide satisfaction and good conversation. What more could we ask for?

      Like

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