Photo of Author Alicia Novo
Meet this week's Writer of the Week Alicia Novo. A former Tech Exec turned author of her debut novel Unwritten, Alicia has lived a little bit everywhere.
From Germany to Argentina and more recently Indianapolis, Alicia said she has been living in the city best known for the Indy 500 race, "for a few years now, and I love it. Although I am not much of a race fan, it is a big deal around here. The Children’s Museum is one of the best in the country, and we were the home to authors such as James Whitcomb Riley and Kurt Vonnegut. John Green lives in Broad Ripple about twenty minutes from my place. Having loved huge cities, I now appreciate the understated and the nice small things about Indy. I like the neighborhood Art Fairs and Farmer’s Markets, the lovely parks, that I drive by the same field every day and watch corn grow and go fallow. I like the back roads, that people are friendly and don’t have to wait for a restaurant table or a parking spot."
For this well-traveled author, we had to ask what her favorite place to visit was. "I’d say the ocean. I love the sea. So give me the coast of Spain, a secluded beach known only to locals."
Alicia writes adult fantasy and said it was her favorite because the genre allows her room to play. "It lets you subvert the way of things. Break rules and create new ones. And fantasy marketing is so creative. I’m a huge fan of bookish swag. I had a great time creating bookmarks, finding props, and designing a charm and a keychain. I even have a Funko pop based on the amazing character art of Beatrix Alba. The book industry is tough, so I try to have fun, turn whatever I can into a game."
Every writer has that moment when they realize, yes, this is what I want to do. Be it in our spare time, as a side gig until it can become full-time, or as a way to just relax. We asked Alicia what that moment was for her and who or what got her interested in being a writer.
"Anne of Green Gables. No, really. I read the book when I was six, and I fell in love. I knew I wanted to reach out and touch people like that. Then I won an inconsequential writing contest and saw my story printed in the school newspaper. This is what I’m meant to do, I thought. But it took a long time and many turns before I decided to embrace writing professionally. I went after a more practical path first, so I became an Economist and a business person. I don’t regret those choices—I enjoyed it, and I think all those experiences help my writing too."
Where she enjoys creating her fantasy filled worlds, characters, and scenes are not unlike other writers. Alicia admitted that she loved writing in coffee shops, admitting that most of her book Unwritten, "was completed at my favorite café in Indy. There is a table in the corner that is perfect to people-watch, and they’ll sell you a full pot of French press. I also have a comfy chair in my home library. I’m not good at writing at desks. I do couches and armchairs, and I often edit in bed."
Stories are often inspired by someone or something, and Alicia shared that hers were in fact inspired by people. "People. Always. I’m intrigued by our motivations and the stories that influence us. I find there’s a lot in life that is absurd and weird and amazing. I’m intrigued to follow those glimpses of stories we see all around us. And I feel fantasy gives me the freedom to take them to unexpected places."
When we caught up with her Alicia was reading, Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust. "It came out mid-year 2020, but I’m only now getting to it. I’ve always been interested in characters that have reason to be rejected and seeing how they deal with that. It is someone I sought to explore in Unwritten as well."
Her absolute favorite genre to read is fantasy however, Alicia also shared that she enjoys reading magical realism, historical, mystery, and the occasional romance novel. "I feel the need to have a balance between reading in-genre to make sure we understand the market and reading other genres. We can learn a lot from different genres."
This adult fantasy writer's favorite quote actually hails from one of the greatest writers of the Roaring '20s, F. Scotts Fitzgerald, "That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” Alicia added, "It’s a sentiment that really speaks to me," and so much so that the quote is also used in her book.
When asked what she thought was the easiest part of publishing, Alicia shared that she is not an indie-author, since Unwritten is published by a small press, but she does have a lot in common with the indie-community. "I was very involved with every aspect of the book’s creation (think cover, blurb, interior design, etc.) and that I’m handling pretty much all of the marketing. In my experience, there’s no easy part of this journey. The easiest is probably writing. It’s the only portion that we can truly control and the most fun."
Indie authors face several challenges but even those of us who were or are published by small presses, still have some of the same struggles. Alicia explained that the hardest part for her during the publishing process was "waiting. Publishing is a business of waiting. You’re waiting for the editor. For the cover designer. You’re awaiting news on whether someone will review, feature, or interview you. You’re waiting for Ingram to post the purchase links… Marketing has been challenging too. I’m a bit reserved, so social media is a challenge for me and to put myself out there requires courage every day.
Alicia's biggest writing supporter is indeed her significant other. "My spouse. I couldn’t have done it without such loving and unconditional support. But to get Unwritten out, I needed a lot of help. I have a wonderful personal team who’s generously given their time to this project, especially around marketing and promotion. I’ve also done skill exchanges on areas where I needed assistance, like SEO, for instance. Tit for tat with other writers is great too. You have to get creative."
Alicia is also a parent and enjoys spending time with her kid doing "kid-friendly things with my family. I love to swim and to garden, and in the winter, I like to cook. Even if I cannot follow a recipe to save my life—I always have to experiment with something. The results are mixed."
The good news for followers and readers is that Unwritten is in fact a series. "It was designed as one from the beginning, and I’m really excited to continue the story.."
Of course, a series means that her writing journey is not over. Alicia Novo told The Writing Wall Blog that she in fact about seventy percent finished with her new young adult fantasy. However, unlike her first book, this second book begins on Earth and quickly transitions into the fantasy universe she has created. "The new project is solidly on Earth. Or at least Earth with a twist," she promises.
When asked if she had any advice for writers who are considering publishing their books, Alicia had this to offer. "Quality must rule. Make sure you don’t cut corners. Put the very best product out there and get the help you need to make that happen. Authors are entrepreneurs, so look at this as a start-up: you’ll need investment and great resources. A professional editor and cover/interior designers are a must, in my opinion."
We could not agree more. You can find her book at the links provided below or It is available for pre-order right now: www.alicianovo.com. If you email me and reference this interview, I will provide a link to buy it for a discount!
About the Author
Alicia has a weak spot for happy endings and transformative journeys. She spent her teenage years in Argentina and Europe speaks several languages and loves to travel. Always an eclectic book lover, she’s never been cured of reading a bit of everything and is as likely to geek out about Mr. Darcy as Dr. Who. A big-city girl, she now lives in the Midwest, where she occasionally picks apples and pretends witches exist.
Alicia J. Novo: https://www.alicianovo.com/
Watch this Exclusive Trailer Clip of Unwritten
A new Writer of the Week will be featured every Monday. Be sure to also follow The Writing Wall on Twitter @TheWritingWall, or on Instagram @writingsonthewall85 for the latest. You can also listen to the podcast every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month.