What books/authors have influenced you and why?
My taste in books is wildly eclectic; I can lose myself in almost anything that is well-written. That being said, I'm influenced by practically everyone I've read, always changed, even if only a skosh: I like to imagine some of their great writing rubbing off on me, seeping in, making me a better writer. Sometimes when I feel myself petering out with my own writing, I stop and read something terrific for an entire day. The next morning I wake up raring to get back to the keyboard. Dare I admit that without the word processor I might not have gotten past chapter one? The beauty of cut and paste, and words flying from brain to fingers to page in an instant cannot be overstated! While I love good fiction, what I often enjoy most and something which always replenishes me is well-crafted non-fiction. There are many writers whom I admire, but my favorite these days is Erik Larson (The Devil in the White City, In the Garden of Beasts, among others). I will literally drop everything to read anything he's written: his books are can't-put-it-down good and the fact that it's all true is icing on the cake.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
This process is still evolving for me, but things tend to come to me as epiphanies. The whole story can sort of materialize in my head very quickly. Sort of like popcorn, there's a kernel of an idea that pops and there it is. Naturally, the fear is that my brain cools down too much, no more kernels pop, and there marks the end of me as a novelist...here's to hoping the burner stays hot long enough for me to continue creating and enjoying the ride for a while.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
My routine is to not follow any routine! I always do my best work when I am organically inspired and can just spew things out as they form in my mind. Practicalities of life sometimes get in the way, but I try to orchestrate my days to preserve space this. I do like to write first thing in the morning when I’m fresh. This is the time when I can fire on all cylinders and enter that amazing state of flow.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?
Right now, the easiest way would be via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicelicata
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Wow, there'd be so much. I guess the main thing would be to stop and smell the roses, quit thinking about what's next, and yes, it sounds so cliché, but enjoy the moment(s). Most people don't seem to truly get this until they are in life's second half. I certainly didn't. Also, I'd tell myself to stop worrying about failing and just to go for it, regardless of slim odds or potential embarrassment. Nothing worse than looking back and thinking, I really shoulda' done this or that. Some things have a finite window of opportunity, and it's important to recognize this and act while you can.
What does literary success look like to you?
Some of my happiest memories as a kid involve being curled up somewhere with a good book. A good book was like a loyal best friend to me. This is essentially true for me today as well. I've always thought novelists were giving the world the best gift. If I can do the same, then I'll feel successful as a writer.