A few weeks ago I got the chance to sit down and talk with another Ohio author, Alicia Wiggins. We talked about her past books, her advice on writing, and her latest book, Loving Ilsa.
I had the chance to read one of her books and my review will be down below as well!
We had such a fun time talking and I look forward to seeing her again at the Mid-Ohio Indie Author Expo next year!
You can watch our interview with the video below or you can read a shortened transcript of it below as well!
Katie: When did you first realize that you wanted to become a writer?
Alicia: I have always loved reading and writing. Even when I was younger and in school, I never minded when we had to write term papers. I know that sounds weird. I never really thought much about writing. I didn't get serious about it until my kids were little and I was reading a lot then. Then I thought, I wonder if I could do this. There was a writing contest and I thought, well I'll give it a shot. Then I started writing a short story and it kept going and kept going until it was a book.
Katie: Where did you get the idea for your latest book, Loving Ilsa?
Alicia: I was trying to think about what I wanted to write about. I wanted to write a character who is older because I am older. I thought just because you are over 45 or 50, it doesn't mean that you don't still have a lot of life to live. I actually came up with the characters first - I didn't have their story yet. Ilsa is this mom whose son just got married and her oldest son has already started his life. She is an empty nester and also a widower. She hasn't had much time for herself. Now it is her time and defining what that means. She is still vibrant and sexy. The beauty of this story is they are not looking for romance and it happens organically. They connect and there is no rush. Now they can just enjoy each other and enjoy dating. That's the story I wanted to write.
Katie: Are you working on anything right now?
Alicia: I am. I haven't gotten very far in it. It's an older couple and they are empty nesters. They are still relatively young and their kids have gone off to college. Now they are trying to figure out what it is like for them to be a couple. They are in a rut and the wife doesn't realize it, but the husband does. I am trying to figure this one out currently.
Katie: What comes first, the characters or the plot?
Alicia: It depends, sometimes the characters come first. With A Place Like Home, the place came first. Other times, I have come up with the story first. When it comes to the book, I try to brainstorm first.
Katie: Are you more of a planner, or is it more spontaneous?
Alicia: I do come up with things. I occasionally hold writers' workshops and I always tell them to have a way to record their ideas. When I would get ready to fall asleep at night and come up with all these ideas, then I would wake up and have no idea what it was. I try to plan and have a rough idea but when I am writing the story comes alive.
Katie: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Alicia: Just start. If you have an idea, just start writing. It's not going to be perfect the first time. You will edit and revise things so many times. Eventually, you can get it to work. You don't have to wait, just start. Get it down, type or write it down in a notebook. You might want to index or outline it but just start with something. You will get discouraged, but keep moving forward. You might get stuck, just go back and work on something else. You'll get it.
Katie: Did you ever think of writing under a pseudonym?
Alicia: I did. But I wanted people who knew me to buy it. No one knows Jane Smith but they know Alicia. If they don't like it, they don't like it. If a handful of people like it then it's all the better.
Katie: What does literary success look like to you?
Alicia: Getting a book done, out and printed. There is nothing like seeing your book in a bookstore and seeing your book in a library. There is nothing like that. Having someone read your book and say that they like it, is exactly what I wanted. I want that book to be your mental escape. That's success to me. If I sell thousands and thousands, great - but if someone spent the weekend reading it and liked it. That's it.
Katie: Have your friends and family read your books?
Alicia: Yes. My friends and family are very supportive. It means the world to be to have people who believe in you. It helps you when you are doubting yourself.
Katie: You write romance, but have you written in any other genre?
Alicia: No, I wish I could write mysteries. I love mysteries - but you would know who did it by the second chapter. I wish I were funnier too, like laugh out loud funny. I write romance because it is a feel-good thing. I don't want them to be sappy, I want them to be realistic. I don't want it to be so far-fetched where it feels like that could never happen.
Katie: Who are some of your favorite authors and all-time favorite books?
Alicia: Francis Ray. I read one of her books in the library and I thought it was such a good book that I bought it. I love Octavia Butler, she wrote sci-fi. I don't read just romance, I read a little bit of everything.
Katie: When you publish a book what do you do to celebrate?
Alicia: I do a couple of things. Usually, I have a book release party. I have good food and wine and I have a little party. I invite people to come and buy the book and I do some readings. I didn't get to do that last year with Loving Ilsa because of COVID but I did an online book release. I just want to celebrate with the people who support me and are always in my corner.
Katie: What is your favorite writing snack and drink?
Alicia: I am really trying to drink more water, so I always have a glass of water. When it gets cold, I have hot tea. It's relaxing. As far as snacks, I usually don't eat when I write. I take breaks and I'll have Hershey kisses. I try not to eat too many of those - but it's chocolate. I'm not a snacker but I always have my water.
Katie: Which one of your characters do you relate the most to?
Alicia: I don't really relate to them that much. But if I had to pick someone it would be Ilsa. She's older and confident. She's not afraid to say what she wants. That's where I am at now. Some of the things that bothered me in my early 20s and 30s, don't bother me anymore. I have been able to do things and embark on adventures that I never would have before. I am not so concerned with what other people think like I was when I was younger. I don't get hung up on that stuff anymore.
Katie: If your books became a movie, what would be the top actors or actresses that you would want to play them?
Alicia: For Loving Ilsa, I don't know who would play her. It would have to be someone with confidence but not be cocky or condescending. For Dominic, it would have to be someone very handsome, older, maybe Greek or Italian. Someone who has this smoldering sexiness about them but isn't trying to be sexy - they just are sexy. I don't know who I would have to play them. I would love for my other book, Real Love, to be a movie. I think it has enough mystery and adventure to be a movie.
Katie: What are some fun facts about you?
Alicia: I am a very analytical role for my job. I work in IT - which is so not creative at all. I was a computer science major, I wasn't a literature major. I had a minor in math. I love to travel, I love to go on cruises. I've been on like 13 cruises. I try to go on at least two a year, if I can. I like to try new things. When I turned 50, I had a list. I had a 50 by 50 list - 50 things I wanted to do by the time I was 50. I hit everything on that list.
Katie: What were some of the things on the list that was your top ones?
Alicia: I wanted to go to Spain. I had been to Spain when I was a teenager and I wanted to go back. I did that one. I wanted to learn how to fire a gun, kind of crazy. There was a class for women. I wanted to take a skiing lesson and I went to Mad River Mountain. It was fun, a lot of fun. I wanted to hit as many little festivals around Ohio as I could. I tried to get t-shirts from all of them if I could.
Katie: What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?
Alicia: I thought I wanted to be a teacher. When you are young, your career path is very limited to what you see. No one ever talked about anything like computer programming. When I went to college, I was an undeclared major for a whole quarter. I had no idea. Kids now have the world at your fingertips. You can put in your interests and see all these careers that relate to that.
Katie: Does your family know you are writing books or do you surprise them?
Alicia: My kids always know. My sisters know sometimes because I will run stuff by them. I will mention that I am working on something. You have to make writing a priority for yourself. You have to make it a priority or else other people won't. So that's when I mention it.
Katie: Have your kids read any of your books?
Alicia: My daughter-in-law has but my sons have not. My daughter has read a few. My sisters have. Most of my family has. My mother read them before she passed away. There were times when I was embarrassed because of the sex scenes and my mother had read it.
A night out at one of the city’s most popular restaurants yields more than a doggie bag for Ilsa Tanner. After catching the eye of the handsome restaurant owner, Dominic Markos, Ilsa and Dominic soon re-enter the dating world after years of enjoying the single life. Just as their dating adventures begin Ilsa’s new boss turns her once happy workplace into a toxic environment that threatens her job and her sanity.
When a dangerous situation sends Trenay Bradley’s orderly life spiraling out of control, Marshall Oliver steps in to help restore balance and order. But when his offer of help, with no strings attached, turns into a jumble of emotions, both he and Trenay find themselves struggling to sort out what’s real and what’s not.
Katrice Ware has finally found a place she can call home in small town Benton Lake. After spending the better part of her adult life dutifully living up to the expectations of others and playing it safe, she reaches a point when she needs and wants more of what life has to offer. Giving up a secure job and ending her long term relationship with a man whom she never truly loved, Katrice leaves everything behind.
Attorney Lee Oliver has returned to his childhood home in Benton Lake for the summer to hopefully restore balance to his life and the life of his twelve-year-old daughter, Kyra. Since the death of Lee's wife three years earlier he has focused solely on raising his daughter and providing for her physical needs. In the process, he has forgotten the simple pleasures of life. Coming to the realization that he can no longer function on auto pilot - devoid of emotion - he allows himself to move past his grief and the mundane existence he has dwelled in for much too long. As Lee and Katrice's paths cross, will they discover that home is where the heart heals?
Claudia Ryland is looking for the man of her dreams, and she has a solid plan to make her dream come true. When she reveals her strategy to her best friend, Raymond Elliott, she learns that he has a plan of his own. As their plans unfold, Ray and Claudia's friendship is put to the test as they risk losing everything in the search for Someone To Love.
Omar is a successful perpetual bachelor. Audrey is a sexy, savvy sales executive.
As they battle conflicting emotions and personal trials, a deceptive plan is set into motion that promises to destroy any chance of happiness the two of them can hope for.
Olivia Ross has endured the betrayal of too many past relationships to enter into another one. She is finally at a place in her life where she is content to be alone.
Alexander Deveraux has also had his share of bad relationships, but he has not given up on love, especially after meeting Olivia. Alex is determined to show Olivia that all love doesn't end in hurt and betrayal.
After eight years, Olivia confronts a past love and slowly opens up to the possibilities of what Unconditional Love can offer.
You can buy her books at www.aliciawiggins.com or find her on Amazon!
My Review of A Place Like Home
I binged this book in 2 sittings and was obsessed! I loved the characters and the suspense of if they would get together or not was killing me the entire book. The setting was so cute in a small town where the main character, Katrice, moves and opens up a book store. It was so realistic, it could have been a true story. I loved this element because with most romance novels it feels as if it is too cheesy or far-fetched. I definitely recommend this book for someone who is looking for a new romance read. I felt like I could truly picture this book as it took place with the descriptive details and the storyline. It was easily a 5/5 star book!