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This post is brought to you by Tamika Burgess, the force behind The Essence of Me. I met Tamika when she attended my “Business of Being a Writer” free workshop in New York City this past December. She learned that I pay for guest posts on my blog and queried me. Her post:

the summer prince alaya johnsonAlaya Dawn Johnson is a New York City-based author who enjoys writing speculative fiction. She has seven published novels that range from science fiction and fantasy to horror. In addition to writing novels, Johnson published and re-published approximately fifteen short stories in various magazines and anthologies. She has also written a few articles, but chooses to stay devoted to her love of fiction writing.

Her desire to write flourished during her teenage years. It was then that she made her first attempt at writing a novel and imagined herself becoming a famous teen phenomenon. However, Johnson never completed this novel or any others until she was in college. While attending Columbia University, Johnson got into fan fiction writing, which led to her complete her first two novels.

While learning about and going through the editing process for her second novel, Johnson put all her newly acquired knowledge into a different story. The outcome was her first published novel, Racing the Dark.

Johnson’s seventh novel, The Summer Prince, was released on March 1st, 2013 (Arthur A. Levine Books). This book is Johnson’s debut into the world of Young Adult literature. The story takes place in the tropics of Brazil and tells the tale of love and eventual death, brought about by a common interest in technology and government rebellion.

200 Words With Author Alaya Johnson

author alaya johnson

Author of The Summer Prince, Alaya Johnson

Write Naked: Where did your desire to write science/fantasy fiction come from?

Alaya Johnson: It probably dates from reading Diana Wynne Jones in elementary school. Her combination of weird magic, complicated characters and unpredictable story lines founded a life-long love. I love the possibilities of speculative fiction. I love the power of metaphors. (Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer–high school is both figurative hell and literal hell.)

WN: What other genres would you consider writing for?

AJ: The novel I’m writing right now (another YA) is my first that doesn’t explicitly fall on the speculative fiction continuum. It’s basically realistic fiction, though with some thriller elements. Tthere’s a pandemic gripping the country, and my protagonist gets involved in some deep government secrets. It’s been very interesting to see the differences between how I approach this book and my others. I’m definitely reaching far deeper into my personal experience than I’ve had to before. The principles of building a place that feels real are very similar.

WN: How did you find your agent?

AJ: My first agent I found with the traditional cold query method. It took me five or six months from when sent my first query letter. A good writer friend of mine put me in touch with my current agent, and that process was far simpler and less stressful. Contacts aren’t everything—my current agent still had to like my novels, after all—but it did make things easier.

WN: If you weren’t a writer, what do you think you would be doing?

AJ: This is a hard one, since I’ve wanted to be a writer pretty much from the day I learned to read. But I’ve always been very interested in music. You can probably tell from my novels. I bet that if I weren’t as interested in storytelling on paper, I would want to tell stories with songs.

Tamika Burgess

Tamika Burgess

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Tamika Burgess is a freelance writer and a blogger. Currently living in Brooklyn, NY, Tamika was born and raised in Southern California where she received a BA in Communications, with an emphasis in Public Relations. She also holds an MA in Strategic Communications. As a freelance writer Tamika’s work has been featured on various sites, including Clutch Online Magazine, The Well Versed, and 212Access. Her work is also featured on her blog, The Essence of Me.