Alaya Johnson

Read more about Alaya Johnson.

Interview By: Tamazon

Date: March 26, 2012

Alaya Johnson's Web Site

Shop Alaya Johnson's Books


Current Release: Wicked City

Describe your current release in two sentences?

Wicked City is a romp through an alternate 1920s New York City, telling the story of Zephyr Hollis, an overworked, underfed vampire rights activist. She has a tempestuous relationship with a djinn named Amir--and, in the wake of a series of vampire murders, serious trouble with the police.

Please describe your writing environment.

I do almost all of my work at my desk at home or at a couple of local coffee shops. I go to the coffee shops when my walls are driving me crazy and I need a good latte and a change of pace.

What are you working on?

Right now I'm working on my debut YA novel, The Summer Prince, and a second, brand new YA project (I think of this as my DC novel, since it's the first book I've set in the city where I grew up, but that's all I can say about it for now). They're both pretty different projects from Wicked City, but I love working in different genres. It means I never get bored.

What was your childhood ambition?

I've always wanted to be a writer, though when I was younger I always framed this as, "I want to be a writer AND..." The "and" changed over the years from figure skater to scientist to archaeologist to National Geographic photographer to journalist to food writer, and finally I realized that writing novels took enough energy as it was. I can travel on vacation.

What is your favorite TV show?

I have a few that I adore, but Veronica Mars might be at the top--or at least jostling for the top position with a few others (Kareshi Kanojo no Jijyo, Buffy, Supernatural). The third season of Veronica Mars was a very sad affair, but I think the first season is just about one of the most perfect things to ever get on television. And the mystery plotting of the ending blew me away--I never saw it coming, and it made utter sense. Dialogue, characterization, depiction of High School life...VM makes me love television.

What career fields have you worked in?

Publishing, actually. I've been working with books my entire adult life, in one way or another. Lucky thing I love books!

Where do you want to travel?

Right now, I most want to go on a road trip through Mexico with my sister and my cousin. I've been to Mexico City before, but I have a thing for Aztec ruins and I would love to just go adventuring--visiting out of the way archaeological sites and eating good food along the way.

How do you mesh your personal and professional life?

There's not much of a demarcation there, honestly. My boyfriend is a literary agent, and I write books for a living, and most of my friends are writers. Sometimes I wonder if I should try to see how the rest of the world lives, but mostly I feel comfortable in my happy book place.

What are your plans for the summer? Any books you are looking forward to?

There are a couple of books I can't wait to get my hands on that are coming out soon-- Holly Black's Black Heart, which is the last book of her Curse Workers trilogy, is going to make me cry, I'm sure. It's a twisty, twisted con-game of a series and one of the best things I've ever read. I'm also looking forward Social Suicide, the sequel to Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday, which reminds me of Veronica Mars in a very good way. Finally, I can't wait to get The Fitzosbornes at War by Michelle Cooper. Her Montmaray trilogy just enchanted me--Dodie Smith by way of Eva Ibbotson, with a dash of something beyond either of them. It's not coming out in the states until fall, though! I will survive somehow.

How was your road to publication? Have you every had to deal with rejection letters?

I suppose there must be a writer somewhere who never had to deal with rejection, but I haven't met her! I wrote two novels before I published my third with a small press, and then I branched out and wrote a lot of different things. I have a stack of rejections from my first attempts to find agents and publish my short stories. It happened eventually, of course, but I had to learn a lot and try a lot on the way. And I still feel like that, honestly.

If you could live in a world created by an author, which book / world would you jump into?

Probably the universe of Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Air. I love that there are portals between worlds that are really different than ours. There's something very whimsical about the process of going between them that always appealed to me as a kid. Magic feels a little strange but still on the edge of the everyday in her books, which is just about how I'd like it in my own life.

New York is my favorite city in the world, and getting to travel back in time for Moonshine and Wicked City was a huge pleasure. If you enjoy Zephyr's adventures, let me know! I love getting emails from fans.

Facebook | Twitter