BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – ALICIA MCCALLA

Do you write full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?
Yes. I’m a full-time writer. Until recently, I worked full-time as a School Media Specialist or School Librarian. I have a Master’s Degree in Library Service from Clark Atlanta University.
What genre(s) do you write in, is there a favorite and which do you feel have had the most important impact on the black community? Traditionally, in mainstream media, blacks have been vastly marginalized in Speculative Fiction and fiction in general, how do you see that changing and what impact will your work have on making those changes?
I write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories with black women protagonists. My goal is to continue to write my diverse stories and encourage readers to expand their scope and horizon. These stories offer the opportunity to dream, fosters creativity, and the ability to “see” oneself in a futuristic world. It’s imperative that African Americans take up this challenge and dream broader and bigger. In fact, it’s equally important for all others to see us in expanded roles, as well.
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
My favorites are Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison, Patricia Briggs, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Sarah J Maas.
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
Yes. My music is very boring. Lots of brain-based sounds that keep me in the creative zone.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
Lately, a lot longer. For many years, I was a discovery writer or a “pantser.” This allowed me to write a novel in a month but it took 6-months to iron it all out. As a full-time writer, I’m taking workshops and classes to teach me how to plot. So About a month to plot and 2-months to write. I’m sure as I get better at plotting, I can get back to writing my novels in 1-2 months.
What does your writing schedule look like and how many hours a day do you write?
I work on current WIP for 5-6 hours per day. I use Pomodoro method (40 minutes work and 15 minutes break). Very helpful.
As a black author, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?
Books, TV, Movies have changed substantially over the years.  In some cases, there is no longer a positive message to the audience. It’s quite disconcerting and frustrating.  Just looking at recent TV series where audiences were “let down” because it was all about “entertaining” and not about “uplifting” or even answer the basic questions of “why is this important” and “what message do you have to share with me about life” is critical. All creatives have a responsibility to not only entertain but to share a message of survival, especially in the Black community.  I do feel a personal responsibility. Hopefully, others will come around and return to good storytelling.
What type of research do you conduct and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
There are so many different types of ways to research when writing a book.  I generally like to get an idea of what the market is about by reading 10-40 novels in the niche that I’d like to write. Then, I go to Amazon and read the reviews of the top selling books to see what readers want in the niche. This is very enlightening and eye-opening. I usually take notes on the tropes/conventions to get an idea of what this niche is all about. After I have that scaffold, then I start to think about my theme/armature for the type of story, I have in mind. That’s where the research tends to get more detailed and specific to my protagonist and supporting characters.
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
In 2012, I released my first novel, Breaking Free.  I sold many copies but I could never quite figure out how to finish the series. Recently, when I decided to write full-time, I knew I had to go back and finish that series. It’s the project that I’m currently working on. I’m reworking it into a Post-Apocalyptic Superhero series. I’m very exciting about this project and can’t wait for readers to see the changes in the world-building and main character, XJ Patterson.
How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
If readers want to learn more about my work and get an idea, if they would like it, they can visit my website www.aliciamccalla.com and read several flash fiction stories that I have available on my blog. They can even listen to me read them on my podcast. And, of course, signing up for my newsletter will get them even more free reads and bargain books.

It took thirty years for Alicia to accept her calling as a writer of “unusual stories.” Always writing edgy tales that pushed the envelope.  She learned to hide her violent, controversial, heart-pumping, and tragically romantic stories from family and friends.

Alicia writes for both new adults and adults with her brand of multicultural superheroes, dark fantasy, paranormal, and horror. Her stories always include strong women heroines who fight back, sometimes to the death.

Alicia’s influences include Octavia Butler, LA Banks, Faith Hunter, Patricia Briggs and Laurell K Hamilton.

Alicia is an activist in the movement towards diversifying Science fiction and Fantasy (#diversityinSFF). She created the first “State of Black Science Fiction 2012″ blog tour, is an active member in the State of Black Science Fiction FaceBook group and has a ScoopIt page where she actively curates topics related to Afrofuturism, Black Science Fiction, Black Speculative fiction and Multicultural Science Fiction.

Alicia is a native Detroiter who currently resides in metro Atlanta.  Alicia recently lost her beloved son who served as a NAVY Officer.  His memory keeps her pushing forward. She currently works as a full-time writer and enjoys spending time with her husband.

She’s working on a new superhero series and looks forward to releasing the series soon. Her adult series mixes African-American women’s fiction with dark fantasy. Check out the African Elemental series.  Sign-up  on www.aliciamccalla.com for free downloads, e-updates, sneak peeks, and coupons.

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