Next up in my sporadic series of author interviews is Airicka Phoenix. I can’t remember who followed whom first, but it’s safe to say that my Twitter feed certainly became a lot livelier once Airicka was amongst the little blue pigeons! She’s got a good sense of humour and is always fun to talk to, so I thought I would have a few words with her about her new novel.
So, Airicka, the soapbox is yours. Could you start by telling us a little about your path to becoming a writer?
I suppose the only answer I can give to this that will make no sense at all is that Beauty and the Beast brought me here. It was grade 3 and we were supposed to draw pictures that told a story then put words to them. I was obsessed with Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast, but I never liked how Belle didn’t get the chance to kick butt and it was too sappy (I was 8!). So I rewrote the story. The pictures were horrible and you can’t make out a word, but it was good enough to get framed by my mother! Lol. I’ve been hooked to writing ever since. Touching Smoke is only one book in a long line of plots and characters just waiting to get out.
Touching Smoke is about a girl’s desire to know her past, only to discover her past is better left in the dark. It’s a young adult cocktail of romance, adventure, mystery, and fantasy and paranormal. The story stars Fallon Braeden, a sixteen-year-old gypsy on the run with her mother in their beat up Impala. Things haven’t always been normal, but they take a drastic dip for the downright insane the day Fallen starts an earthquake and everything falls apart. Suddenly, she finds herself hunted by creatures with unusual abilities, haunted by a ghost baring a frighteningly familiar resemblance and falls in love with the last person she should ever give her heart to. So as her foundation crumbles beneath her, Fallon teeters on the brink of two devastating revelations: follow her heart or save the world.
What inspired this trilogy?
Touching Smoke came to me by accident. I was actually vanquishing a demon in another story when the idea for Touching Smoke popped into my head. It took me about a day to write out the plot, fill in the characters and Touching Smoke was born.
You describe yourself as a paranormal young adult (or YA) author. The genre has been made very popular of late by the Twilight books. Did they have an influence on you?
Getting inspired has never been an issue. Getting all the stories bubbling up in my head out is the real problem. On whether or not Touching Smoke was directly inspired by Twilight or any other book/movie, etc, I can say with complete honesty that it wasn’t. However, in that same breath, Touching Smoke was inspired by another book that I will be releasing soon.
Can you tell us anything about that book?
It’s also a YA novel. I like to think it is a Buffy meets Romeo & Juliet. It’s about a girl named Clara who is a Hunter for the human race. Her job is to kill the supernatural, until she comes across a demon she can’t kill and breaks all the rules to keep him alive.
I’m not sure when this book will come out, but I’m hoping soon.
What is it that drew you to the paranormal YA genre?
I have my mom to thank for that. I grew up watching The Witches, The NeverEnding Story and The Labyrinth, just to name a few. My mom always had a passion for anything that had magic so our house was always full of superstitious stories and stories of romance and danger. My mom had a flare for making up some of the most amazing stories and I would sit up for hours listening to her. When I got older, I started writing my own. The young adult genre has always held something special for me. I love the innocence of the characters and those stages between childhood and adulthood when everything is the most fragile.
Touching Smoke will be published via Treasureline Publishing. What made you work with them rather than go it alone?
I thought of going at it alone several times, but the process had always daunted me so much that I kept waiting for Touching Smoke to get noticed by a publisher or waste away on my hard drive. Treasureline Publishing actually published my first short story, Torrid, and took up Touching Smoke after I got to talking with the lady in charge of the company. She took Touching Smoke under her wing, I designed the cover and the rest is history.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be a writer?
It’s only as hard as you let it be. Be wary of who you let into those fragile moments when you are at your most vulnerable and always keep moving.
And, finally, what’s the problem with red Smarties?
OMG! LOL!! I think I cracked a rib! Oh my goodness! I thought we agreed this discussion would remain hush-hush! *sigh* all right, well, I actually have a phobia against most ‘red’ foods. So it’s not just smarties. I won’t eat or drink or touch most things red. But I do like strawberries, raspberries and applies which seem to be exempted in my weirdness.
If this has whetted your appetite, you can download Touching Smoke here (if you’re in the UK) or here (if you’re in the US)will be released at the end of July. You can also visit Airicka’s website and let her know what you think of her red food phobia. She’s on Twitter and Goodreads too, so she hasn’t anywhere to hide…