Shootin’ the Breeze with Alecia Whitaker

We’re only a few months into 2012 and I’ve already read some stand out books. One of which was Alecia Whitaker’s debut novel, The Queen of Kentucky.

One of the most endearing books I’ve read so far, I wanted to know more about the book, main character Ricki Jo Winstead, and of course the very talented author, Alecia Whitaker. Luckily for me, and for all my readers Alecia Whitaker was willing to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

BookBandit (BB): Can you tell about yourself, and about your writing?

Alecia Whitaker (AW): I am a mom and a wife living in New York City, but originally from a small town in Kentucky. I was raised on a farm much like the main character in The Queen of Kentucky, Ricki Jo, so life as I know it now could not possibly be more different from the way I grew up. My writing is often reflective of situations that I have experienced in my real life. My mom says I am a Master Embellisher, so I just apply the same sense of dramatics to my writing. I think about something that happened in my life and then retell the story to make it fantastical, funny, and all around better.

BB: Ricki Jo is a great character, what was the most difficult part about creating her? Easiest part?

AW: The most difficult part with Ricki Jo was trying to separate myself as an adult from her as a young teen. She’s only fourteen and she’s just now entering high school – she’s just barely out of middle school! – so of course she’s going to make mistakes as she tries to navigate a new school and new friendships. I didn’t want my adult self to age her up or preach, so I let her stumble and cheered for her during the times when she succeeded. The easiest part was writing about her home life. The farm and her family members are mirror images of my own. And her sense of humor. We’re both known to tell a corny joke or two.

BB: If you were to describe Ricki Jo through a musical playlist, what songs would be on it?

AW: I actually have a Queen of Kentucky playlist on my iTunes. Here are a few of those jams: Boondocks by Little Big Town (where she’s from), Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis (her ridiculous for Wolf), and Our Song by Taylor Swift (reflective of her relationship with Luke).

BB: What advice could you offer to aspiring writers?

AW: Write. I know it sounds crazy, but the difference is that one aspires  and one writes. You have to do the work before you can enjoy the fruits of it. You’re not going to be published on a great idea alone. And after you’ve written your piece, edit and revise. Get a few people you trust (not just family, but writers) to read it and give you notes. Then be open to their feedback. You can’t be married to your work – nothing is perfect the first time around. And then research agents and editors who have represented books that are similar to yours and approach them. They will be impressed that you’ve done your homework and you will have a better chance at success in publishing.

I would like to send out a big THANK YOU to the lovely Alecia Whitaker, for not only giving us a great book, but for taking time out of her schedule to answer a few questions.  Be sure to pick up a copy of the Queen of Kentucky, it will not disappoint.

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