Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Alicia Nordwell – The number one question folks ask Alicia when she shares she’s a MM romance author: “Why gay fiction? Why write men when you’re a woman?” and her answer is: “Why the hell not!” Alicia Nordwell is one of those not so rare creatures, a reader turned writer. Striving to find an interesting story one day, she decided to write what she wanted instead. Then the voices started… Yep, not only does she talk about herself in the third person for bios, she has voices in her head constantly clamoring to get out. Fortunately, with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided for her own sanity to keep writing.
Thanks so much, Alicia, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Alicia Nordwell: I began writing back in 2009 when I joined Gayauthors. Talk about rough! I had stories to tell, but the skills to tell them took quite a while to come. I had to relearn a lot of rules about writing I forgot. Beyond that, there is a lot of specific writing tips like avoiding passive phrasing, mixing dialogue and narration, creating compelling characters, etc… I believe we are all constantly refining our craft and improving, so I don’t think I’m necessarily “good at it”, but I am good at learning.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
AN: I mix and match. I find I write men better than women, hence the gay men as main characters. Comedy, drama, dark, light, contemporary, paranormal, sci-fi… I’ve tried it all. I find I’m more drawn to the creative aspects of paranormal and sci-fi. My biggest goal, no matter what I’m writing, is that my words don’t get in the way of the story. I want the picture they evoke to be what readers focus on.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
AN: Pricolici. It’s a paranormal story inspired by ancient Dacian mythology about werewolves and magic. The rights were reverted back to me after 2 years, and I was able to expand and self-publish it too. I’m still waiting on the time to write a sequel because I think readers would really like the direction I see the characters heading.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
AN: Process? That implies consistency in how I write. Honestly, I write whenever and however I can. Life can so often get in the way. I’m also more of a pantser than a planner. I do try to keep track of details via Writeway when I do a series, so I don’t forget specific details, but most of the time it’s just open a Word document and get started.
JSC: Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours.
AN: I hate open container drinks. If I have a cup without a lid, usually I prefer to cover it with a napkin or something. You never know what could fall into it otherwise!
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
AN: Anne McCaffrey. I’d love to pump her on the subtle gay theme she wrote into the Pern series with her green dragonriders. They came out so long ago, but I loved that she fit that in during a time when it was really unpopular.
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
AN: Scary. Seriously! Apparently I have a forceful personality that can decimate those who irk me with a single stare. Well, it works on the elementary school kids when I volunteer at least. lol
JSC: What kind of character or topic have you been dying to try to write, but you’ve never worked up the courage?
AN: I don’t know that I’ve ever had a ‘character’ I’ve been afraid to write. I write people, no matter who or what they are doing in the story. They can be aliens, human survivors, werewolves, magicians, etc… but they’re all just people. They all have things that make them tick.
Topics? Well, I’ve included quite a few dark themes in my stories. I think I’ve avoided any mention of depression, though, because I just don’t understand it. My chemical makeup doesn’t allow that sort of imbalance, and so my empathy for the mental and emotional whys of a depressed person’s behavior just isn’t there. I don’t want to be callous, so I avoid using it.
JSC: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?
AN: Can I change the events? I’d pick 2000. I got married and went on my honeymoon one month after I turned 19 on Sept. 16th. That was awesome! I’d love to say I do and go to Maui again. That I wouldn’t change. 3 weeks after that my new hubby and I were hit by a drunk driver head on. He died, my hubby had minor injuries, and I severely damaged my right leg and busted out my side window with my head.
It took the rest of almost a full year to learn how to walk again. The kicker? Coming up on the area where he hit us, we’d just made the decision to stay straight and return some movies to Blockbuster instead of turning to go home. If we’d just gone home, I’d live with a lot less pain. Then again, we got for better or for worse and in sickness and in health out of the way really fast. LOL
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
AN: Disastertastic. It’s a holiday novella I plan to self-publish in early December. My family has a tradition of watching Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation as many times as possible between now and New Year’s, and that ‘What will go wrong next?’ theme inspired the story of how Kable tries to convince Sawyer that the holidays can be more than a waste of time and money, and that the magic of the season really does exist. But, well… the title says it all!
And now for Alicia’s new book: On Fire:
Nothing beats getting out of the concrete jungle and into the quiet of the forest. Website designer Scottie Ness is taking a well-deserved vacation from the grindstone, and he plans to spend it in the solitude of Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Mt. Adams. He’s prepared for everything—except the lightning storm that traps him in a wildfire.
The firefighter who rescues him sustains serious injuries and ends up in the hospital. Jax Quintero might be abrasive, but the guy saved his life, and Scottie wants to thank him. As they spend time together during Jax’s recovery and exploring the state’s landmarks when he’s released from the hospital, Scottie discovers there’s more to Jax than a smart-ass adrenaline junkie. Jax reassesses his opinion of Scottie as an arrogant city boy who has no business in the mountains. Though Jax’s wounds prevent them from taking things as far as they’d like for a while, they can’t deny the heat building between them—and this is one fire they don’t want to put out.
“WHAT EXOTIC tropical locale are you going to spend your vacation drunk in?” Carter leaned back in his chair so he could see into Scottie’s cubicle. He smirked. “Or are you hitting the casinos in Vegas to make your fortune and leave all of us to toil away in the trenches alone?”
“Neither. Hiking and camping in the Gifford Pinchot around Mt. Adams.” Scottie adjusted a line of code, and the website header widened. “I’m all set to go in the morning.”
“Seriously? You have a week off in August, and you’re going to waste it trudging through the dirt and pine trees when you could be lounging on the beach somewhere?” Carter shook his head. “Wouldn’t catch me doing that. Aren’t there bears and cougars up there?”
Scottie shrugged one shoulder. “I might see a bear, if I’m lucky. Cougars are actually pretty shy.”
“You want to see a bear?”
“It’d make a great picture.” The website he was working on needed to be visually appealing on both computers and mobile devices, and he was having a hard time focusing. “It’s Friday. Don’t you have some reason to duck out and start the weekend early?”
“Nope. Miranda, Tark, and I are all going out for happy hour at Corrigan’s, but not until six. Don’t try to change the subject. You know you can take pictures at the beach, right? White sand, crystal blue water, and palm trees swaying in front of the setting sun.”
“Dime a dozen. I like living in Washington because we have so many places where I can take beautiful nature photos. Coastline, rivers, lakes, mountains, even the desert, all within a few hours’ drive. Besides, I’m still paying off my student loans. I don’t have money for expensive vacations.”
“Two words. Credit cards.”
Of course. Carter wore name-brand shoes with his fancy suits and never brought a lunch, preferring to order takeout. He’d graduated a year before Scottie, so it wasn’t like he made that much more money. “One word. Stupid.”
Carter rolled his eyes. “Whatever, man. When I take my week off next month, I’m going to Hawaii. Hotel on the beach, coconut drinks, and chicks in bikinis. Any women you come across in the campground will probably be covered in pitch and pine needles.”
“I’m not going to stay in the campgrounds. I’m hiking and camping off the trails, and for the most part, I won’t see any people at all.”
A look of horror crossed Carter’s face. “Seriously?”
He nodded. “I used to go camping with my family all the time growing up. We’d hike, fish, roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire. It’s peaceful.”
“Whatever, man. When you get munched on by a bear, can I get your chair?”
It was Scottie’s turn to roll his eyes. “I’m not going to get eaten by a bear, and your chair is the same as mine. Why would you want it?”
“I spilled fish sauce on mine earlier this week, and now it smells funny.”
“Well you can’t have my chair, and I’ll notice if there’s a fish funk on mine when I get back, so don’t even try to switch them. Don’t you have a project to finish? I have to get this done before I leave.”
“Fine, fine.” Carter rolled back to his desk. “Have fun communing with wildlife.”
SCOTTIE ROLLED up his backpacking tent with an extra tarp and fastened it to the bottom of his pack. His sleeping bag, a change of clothes, survival kit, portable stove, water filter, and food fit inside. The rest of his camping gear was piled along the wall, taking up most of the living room floor in his postage stamp of an apartment. He plopped down on the couch with a beer and opened his laptop.
Using a red highlighter, he outlined the trails he planned to take and marked his base camp as well as his possible overnight camping sites before printing out two copies. Picking up a pen, Scottie scribbled his full name, the dates of his trip, and what kind of vehicle he was driving on the back of one map. He’d drop it off at the ranger station before he stopped in Trout Lake for some sandwiches. No idea what they did to make them taste so great, but they were way better than anything he could make. He’d have to stop by the ATM on the way out of Vancouver to pick up some cash.
Now that he had all the nitty-gritty survival stuff out of the way, he had to get his photography equipment in order. Scottie didn’t spend much money on himself, but he had a nice Canon camera, lenses, a flexible tripod for his hiking pack, and a bigger telescoping tripod in its own bag. Using a polishing cloth from his cleaning kit, Scottie went over every piece of glass in his camera bag, making sure all the lenses and filters were spotless. Photography might be just a hobby, but he took pride in getting that one shot that made all the hard work worth it.
He’d finished his beer by the time he had the last memory card and battery stowed, and he waffled on what he wanted to do. He’d been up since six, worked a full day, and finished getting all his camping gear ready to load in the morning, but he wasn’t tired enough to go to bed. The weather report he checked promised sunny days and clear nights—though it wouldn’t be nearly as warm around Mt. Adams as it would be in Portland.
The number one question folks ask Alicia when she shares she’s a MM romance author: “Why gay fiction? Why write men when you’re a woman?” and her answer is: “Why the hell not!” Alicia Nordwell is one of those not so rare creatures, a reader turned writer. Striving to find an interesting story one day, she decided to write what she wanted instead. Then the voices started… Yep, not only does she talk about herself in the third person for bios, she has voices in her head constantly clamoring to get out. Fortunately, with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided for her own sanity to keep writing.
Now you can find her stories both free and e-published. When she’s not on the computer typing away, she’s a wife and a mom of two in the dreary, yet ideal for her redhead complexion, Pacific Northwest. Except for when she disappears into one of the many worlds in her head, of course! She can also be found quite often at her blog, where she has a lot of free fiction for readers to enjoy or working hard, or maybe hardly working, as an admin on GayAuthors.org under her online nickname, Cia.
Cia’s Stories: http://www.ciasstories.blogspot.com