Hey guys! I’m so excited for today’s post as I’m bringing you my first ever author interview with Alicia J. Novo! I’ve talked about her book, Unwritten so much on my blog, and I can’t wait for you to get to know her! But first, let’s take a look at her upcoming book, which releases on May 8th!
Books whisper to Beatrix Alba. But they aren’t the reason she has never fit in. Bullied at home and school, she keeps a secret—a power of violence and darkness.
When the spell that keeps her hidden fails, she’s catapulted into the Zweeshen, a realm where all tales live, and her dream of meeting her favorite characters comes true. But wishes are tricky, and behind its wonder and whimsy, the Zweeshen is under attack. A character is burning bookworlds in pursuit of a weapon to rule both stories and storytellers. To succeed, he needs a riddle in Beatrix’s keeping.
Now he’s hunting her down.
Joining forces with William, a cursed conjurer, Beatrix must face an enemy who knows her every weakness in a realm where witches play with time, Egyptian gods roam, and Regency heroines lead covert operations. And with her darkness as the only weapon, she may have to sacrifice everything to save a world that rejects her.
Welcome Miss Novo, congratulations on your upcoming book, and thank you so much for taking the time to come here! Firstly, tell us a little something about yourself and your new book.
Thanks! I’m delighted to be doing this interview. My name is Alicia J. Novo, and I write YA fantasy. I was born in a large city, moved around a lot around the world and now live in the Midwest. Unwritten is my debut novel. It is set in a world where characters from all stories live and interact after the end of their stories. The book follows Beatrix Alba, a Hispanic teenager who hears the whispers of books as she travels into this world, the Zweeshen.
What element of Unwritten did you have the most fun writing?
I really enjoyed building the world of the Zweeshen. To me, setting is a character too, and I love the interplay between what the protagonist goes through and how the environment supports, challenges, and hinders their quest. For the Zweeshen, it was fun to combine elements from different genres, characters from diverse types of books, and various cultures while creating a where enough consistency for all to work together. I enjoyed putting myself in the shoes of a book character and imagining a whole society from their perspective.
The magical realm of the Zweeshen is a place I’m sure all readers would love to visit. What inspired you to start writing this book and create this whimsical fantasy?
The idea is quite old. I was already a bookworm as a young kid, and like many readers, I hated letting go of the characters I loved. I dreamed of meeting them and wondered what it would be like to hang out outside of their stories. So I imagined a place where they would roam free so that I could befriend them. The Zweeshen grew from that idea and evolved in surprising ways—it became both more whimsical and darker, a lot more complicated and layered, but the seed was there from a long time ago.
If you were to go to the Zweeshen, which book character would you want to meet and why?
Oh, so many. I think Elizabeth Bennet would be at the top of my list. I’d love to have her as a friend, and I’m convinced she would have done surprising things. There’s something modern and relatable about her even though she lived in a society so far from ours. It is not a coincidence that Beatrix Alba gets to meet her in Unwritten.
If you had to choose to go to the mall with one of your characters, which one would it be and what would you do together?
I would take Lucy and Dyot. They would have the best advice on style, and they’re fun and upbeat. But I love that both are more than it appears at first sight. We would probably shop for an entire wardrobe (this is make-believe, after all) and then we’d sit at a café and chat for hours.
On your blog, you talk about how channeling raw emotions from real life into your writing make a story better. How did this play a part in the drafting of Unwritten?
Writing, especially publishing is a long, hard journey. There is a lot of rejection, a lot of disappointment, and a lot of surprises. There are good moments too, of course. But compared to other businesses, it is very emotional. I think that can be taxing for authors, so finding a way to repurpose all those feelings is helpful. Emotion is what makes a story powerful as well, so there is no better moment to write than we’re angry, crying, joyous. It is a way to productively use that overflowing energy and improve our writing because the authenticity of those moments full of passion shines through.
What are some of your hobbies, other than reading and writing, which you love to indulge yourself in?
My passion is traveling, which in the last year and a half has not been possible. During the pandemic, I focused on other hobbies. I like living things, so I enjoy gardening, and we have a pond where we keep fish. I love spending time with my family, playing outside, or biking with my son. I named Unwritten’s character William after him, by the way. I also enjoy swimming and boating. Someone told me once that time spent on a boat doesn’t count towards our time on earth–I totally believe that. I adore the water.
Needless to say, that cover is absolutely stunning! What inspired this magnificent design?
Thank you! I’m delighted with how it turned out. We worked with a super talented designer and I was awed at how she captured the spirit of the book. The inspiration was distilled from the design brief that I wrote for her describing the world. What came through very clearly was the image of this city—with the great library as a focal point–and the concept of ink running through, connecting everything. Micaela presented us with eight unique concepts that played with those elements. But this one, even in that draft version, stood out. It was lighter but more intricate—and it was different. It encapsulated the idea of darkness and light, mystery and magic. Also, the visual of ink shifting was something we had already discussed with the trailer team, so it felt right.
Unwritten being your first novel, what were some experiences and lessons you encountered while writing, that made an impact on your life?
I’m by nature a private person. Writing required the commitment to expose myself and to dare show vulnerability in a way that I hadn’t before. I had a full career before this, but it is much easier to maintain an emotional distance in the corporate world. Writing this novel also taught me that things seldom follow a linear path. It forced me to dive into my fears and accept the rollercoaster of life more fully.
Lastly, I would love it if you could give some advice to aspiring authors who are looking to publish their own book one day!
First: Listen to feedback but trust yourself. As authors, our biggest foe is self-doubt. So do your research, read like crazy, work on your craft, hear critiques, but never lose the vision for the story that matters to you.
And two: Don’t compare. There is room for all good stories. There’s an unlimited appetite for them. After a reader finishes a great novel, they only want more. Don’t fall prey to the feeling of scarcity. We’re all trying to do the same: tell our truth, and there are enough people out there who want to hear it. It really isn’t a competition.
Thank you so much for having me, Rania!
It was my pleasure! Thank you so much Miss Novo for taking the time to do this interview! I can’t wait for everyone to read Unwritten!
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.
Before I go…
I wanted to share some wonderful character art of Beatrix and William, the two main characters of Unwritten! It’s done by Carol Gaia Art and it’s absolutely stunning!
And that’s all for today! What did you think? Have you read Unwritten yet? Is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!
Oh and Happy Star Wars Day! May the 4th be with you!