Writing Process with the Talented Alycia Ripley
Updated: Apr 3, 2019
For this week's writing process interview, I have the talented Ms. Alycia Ripley, published author of The Final Alice and Alice's Army, and fellow film nerd!
Who Are You?
Film nerd, author, creative strategist, music journalist, content creator, event-thrower, and only child born and raised in Buffalo, NY. After graduating from Syracuse University and New York University I spent several years in NYC, Hawaii, and Los Angeles. I'm the author of three published novels (Traveling With An Eggplant, The Final Alice, Alice's Army) one memoir (Wind Over Tide) and write for several publications. I have seven tattoos that remind me of things I need to remember, and my Maine Coon cat, Mr. Jambo, loves to wear Hawaiian shirts.
What are three things that you absolutely need in order to write?
Spotify playlist and headphones. I listen to specific songs when writing particular scenes.
A quiet atmosphere, except for the aforementioned music.
A relaxed mind. I've never been someone who can work in a chaotic environment or under stress. I envy those who can!
Most writers have many ideas swimming around their heads competing for attention. How do you decide which idea is worth working on?
It's rarely my decision! The plot hits me like a ton of bricks from the tiniest trigger or a dream I had the night before. If my enthusiasm and energy remains steadfast during the brainstorming period, I know it's the project I should be focusing on.
When you decide on a writing project, how much do you plan upfront?
Quite a bit, actually. The title, the main character's name, and the overall concept hits me fully-formed from somewhere. I make an outline of major plot points I want to hit and themes I hope readers take from the story. Tone is difficult to maintain so sketching out character backstories and major plot points can help.
All writers experience writer’s block from time to time. What you do to get unstuck?
For my trilogy, I re-read the previous books to remember what I was excited about creating and what I planned to unveil in later installments. In general, I often jump ahead to scenes I may feel more inspired to write at the present moment. I also take walks or ride my bike. A large amount of creative processing is done while riding my bike on very quiet roads with little traffic.
Tell me something about your writing process that is quirky and unique to you.
I bring a notebook with me wherever I go and write longhand before transferring it into the manuscript. I watch certain films that will inspire me visually and help me create a more exciting opening or location description.
When are you most productive? When are you least productive?
Mornings and afternoons are my best times to write. At night, I plan my 'what's next' list for use the following morning. It provides a head start to know which section I'll be working on, what research I need, etc. I'm especially productive when in an environment similar to one I'm writing about. I love to take real life details and include them.
It’s my birthday and you want to give me a book. Which book do you get me and why?
Without doubt, a copy of Charlotte Sometimes, by Penelope Farmer. It's the story of Charlotte, who while at boarding school is assigned a bed that 'switches' her with another girl, Clare, from decades earlier. The two go back and forth between decades and oddly enough, no students or staff can tell the difference when the girls are switched! I loved the time travel element and the mystery. It's one of those books that does so much, so simply, is so clear and well-explained yet leaves room for the reader's imagination. Fun fact- Robert Smith of the band, The Cure, wrote a hit song based on it, with the same title 'Charlotte Sometimes.' It's a book I feel every writer should read.
Bonus Question from Naley Gonzalez: If writing wasn’t “the one”, what other career would you see yourself in?
This is an easy one because, except for book projects, writing is only part of what I do and am moving forward with. I'm a PR promotion strategist for various clients and with that I’m am able to use my writing, photography, etc. What I realized over the years was what my writing, weird amount of knowledge of musicians/bands/decades, photography, and LOVE of film really prepared me for was directing. Maybe the equipment intimidated me or the lack of female directors but it's what I'm moving ahead with now and will be taking classes to learn and using my photography to practice what I'd like "in the box.” My goal is to write and direct personal and exciting scripts and direct and produce the vision of other creative collaborations. Basically, telling stories and creating projects that I'd love to see and haven't been able to find yet.
Now, the fun part: What is one question that you want me to ask the next interviewee, not knowing who it is?
I'd love to know an example of what he/she considers his/her favorite movie(s) and what about the writing/structure/characters within that film really affects him/her?
What are you working on and where can readers find you?
I'm currently working on Part 3 of my Alice series. I actually wrote the very last scene in Part 3 before beginning Part 1 in 2009 but Part 3 has been the most difficult to write. It's a series about a descendant of Alice in Wonderland in modern-day America, who says yes to an unusual vigilante destiny that will keep the world from being destroyed. It's violent and realistic but carries some fantastical elements and highlights destiny, identity, friendship, and good vs evil themes.
My favorite way to meet readers is at events or while speaking to book clubs! My favorite place to engage is Instagram, which allows me the creative outlet of taking photographs and writing captions that may inspire someone's day. As an artist, I'm always looking to create content that makes someone else smile or feel heard or connected. Any way I can do that is where I put my energy and feel the most fulfilled.
Facebook author page- Alycia Ripley
My website is now under construction to be more easily accessible for mobile devices but until it's up and running, anyone is welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org