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A Center Stage Moment: Alica McKenna-Johnson

McKenna spotlight

Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with the characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Alica McKenna-Johnson!

PROOF_UCP_5735Being told she was a horrible speller and would never learn to use a comma correctly, Alica never thought to write down the stories she constantly had running through her head. Doesn’t everyone daydream about flying on a spaceship while walking to school?

Not until she was thirty did Alica dare to write down any of the people living exciting lives in her head. The relief was instantaneous. By giving them life on the page they could be released from her mind and given greater adventures.

As her books grew in size and the voices in her head learned to wait their turn, Alica found a loyal group to journey with. Women who would help her slay her commas, and use their magical gifts to traverse plot holes, transform words into their proper spelling, and release characters from any Mary Sue spells they might be under.

In-between magical adventures, Alica is mom to two kids, slave to two cats, tries to get in her workouts, and spends far too much time binge watching Netflix.

I love reading author bios. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? I didn’t. I wasn’t and am still not good at spelling or grammar (I have 4 editors). As a child I wasn’t encouraged to write. I didn’t realize “normal” people didn’t go around with stories running through their heads constantly. In my thirties my sister introduced me to Harry Potter fanfiction, and that’s when I started writing.

Why did you choose to write your genre? I choose Young Adult because I have children, and I wanted them to be able to read my books. I have ideas for more adult-themed novels, but those will come later.

Phoenix Teaser


What is the strangest story you’ve ever written? My fourth book A Dragons’ Clutch, which I’m editing, takes place in Japan. There were a lot of specific customs and behaviors I needed to be aware of. [Sounds interesting!]

Serpent Teaser

What are you currently working on? I have just started book five in my Children of Fire series. This one takes place in India, no title yet.

Avalon Teaser

What motivated the plot of your latest book? One day I was wondering what would it be like if magical creatures had mated with humans centuries ago. What would their descendants be like? [Awesome! Someone else who likes to ponder the ‘what if’ question.]

What was the hardest story for you to write? Kayin’s Fire, because it’s a novella and I’m not good at smaller stories.


What process do you use to plan your novels? I have my critique group help me create a bare bones outline, and I do research about the country and the gods and goddess and magical creatures I want to use.

Who has been your favorite character to write and why? I really like Sarah/Sapphire my main character. She isn’t perfect, but she tries her best. She feels lost and overwhelmed, as we all do sometimes.

Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? They do, but more I think they reflect the things I want to be. Strong, powerful, special, unique, graceful. [Yes! A chance to create the self you’d like to be!]

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? For me writer’s block means that I have made a mistake/I’m going in the wrong direction/I’ve forgotten a key plot point, something like that. So I take a break, re-read the last few chapter, and usually I can figure it out.

If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? Why? Steampunk. I love steampunk it’s so much fun.

Which authors inspire you? Janni Lee Simner, Marissa Meyer, Kady Cross, and Ransom Riggs.

What novel would you read multiple times? I have a long list of these. Whenever I feel depressed or overwhelmed, I re-read books I love.

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? (Person could be a fictional character) Maya Angelou. Her work is amazing, and I feel like I would learn so much from sitting and talking with her.

What is your favorite quote?

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? Phoenixes

What is your favorite color? Purple

What do you do when you’re not writing? Until recently I was a professional foster parent but I’m taking a few months off to focus on writing before getting another job.

Catch up with Alica online at: 






It was such a pleasure to get to know you, Alica!

Next week’s featured author will be Jaci Wheeler.

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