July 27, 2005

GCC: Three Questions with Alesia Holliday

I have NO outgoing mail service. I think must have something in the laptop set up incorrectly, becase I can almost never SEND mail from it when I am plugged in anywhere but my house. This kinda defeats the purpose of a PORTABLE computer. My pop3 hodad must be cattywompered. <---industry term used by us professional computery types with the mad code skillz. Dont try this at home. Anyway, UPSHOT is, if you have sent or will send mail to e this week, there shall be no reply. Blame technology.

When you are done blaming technology, meet funny, hip authoress (Authotrix??) and alround cool chick Alesia Holliday. I sat virtually down with Alesia to talk with her about her new book, Nice Girls Finish First. Alesia is a "nice girl" in the best sense of the phrase herself, and she's funny, so I hope you enjoy meeting her as much as I did.

JJ: Wow -- you have a lot of hats. You write Chick-Lit, YA, Legal Thrillers, and Non-Fiction. What are the common threads that transcend genre and make something your work?

AH: My voice and my humor! Anybody can pick up any of my books and tell it's me, that's for sure. I have a very warped and twisted way of looking at life - ESPECIALLY at adversity. (I always figure it's better to laugh than to beat someone to death with an axe, right?) I LOVE to make people laugh. Someone asked me yesterday what I want to hear from God when I die and -- other than NOT hearing "No vacancies" -- I figured, "You made people laugh. Ya done good" would be it.

JJ: You have a silent I in your name, and I have a silent H. And yet here we are in a field where our name is seen a lot more often then our name is heard, and everywhere I go (well, all my book related goings) I have to interrupt the first person to greet me and tell them how to pronounce my name which makes me feel like a great big rude prima donna dork because HOW COULD THEY KNOW? There is a GREAT BIG H IN THE MIDDLE, and yet it is pronounced like Joss-a-lyn. I have my own reasons for keeping my H in spite of being called JOSH every other minute (GARGLE--HATE THAT!). Why did you keep the I?

AH: LOL! I do the same thing, and I always APOLOGIZE, which is annoying. Like I'M SORRY MY PARENTS WERE ON SOME SORT OF HALLUCINOGENIC DRUGS (they weren't) when they gave me this STUPID name.

Little-known fact: Alesia is the name of a famous battle in French history where the French got their ASSES kicked. I discovered this when I went to FRANCE with my FRENCH ex-boyfriend and had to meet all of his family. It was EXACTLY like walking up to them and saying, HELLO, MY NAME IS WATERLOO.

Sigh.

But I never considered changing it -- hey, it's my name. People will just have to deal. I was nearly named for two great aunts and would have been: ARIZONA RUHAIMA HOLLIDAY. So I figure Alesia is orgasmically terrific in comparison. (How would you even shorten a name like that??? Zonie Ru? AARGHHH.)

Once you tell them it's Joss-a-lyn, you should tell them you're related to Joss Whedon and see how many people start nodding in agreement . . .

JJ: How'd you come up wirth the idea for Nice Girls Finish First?

So one day I was thinking about today’s woman, as I often do, considering that I write funny books about the everyday (and not so everyday!) things we all go through, and I was wondering about that perpetual dilemma – the Myth of the Nice Girl.

Somehow, through a peculiar evolution of the professional environment, women today are finally recognized (mostly) as equally competent, ambitious, and dedicated as men in the workforce. (We’ll leave the “we have to work smarter and harder” argument aside for now.) But yet, we have an added burden: we have to be NICE.

Now, this isn’t really tough for most women, most of the time. We were raised to be nice. That’s what little girls do, right? “Play nice!” “Be nice!” Except, well, there are times when you can’t be all that nice . . . Boyfriend cheating? Kick him to the curb! Um, in a nice way? Opposing counsel trying underhanded tactics? Notify the judge and get him sanctioned! Er, nicely?

The idea of a character who is very ambitious and a great person, but a little bit of a tough chick on the surface, really intrigued me. And I had the perfect character in Kirby Green, newly-hired exec at the Whips and Lace Co. She’d pretty much stolen every scene she was in in AMERICAN IDLE (Double RITA finalist, how cool is that??). Then I wanted to compare and contrast Kirby with a character who was so nice that she was in danger of becoming a doormat. Brianna sprang to life. My good friend who is an opera singer (no, really!) provided some great background for her. Then I set the two of them loose to play on the pages – each helping the other learn something about life, and about herself. That’s how NICE GIRLS FINISH FIRST was born.

Can we be successful as women today and still retain some of that niceness that was so valued in earlier years? I think so. But nice doesn’t mean dumb, and today’s nice girls DO finish first. They might just have to kick a little ass along the way.

Nicely.

Posted by joshilyn at July 27, 2005 8:03 AM
Comments

More great books to add to my list. Thanks, Joss-a-lyn.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at July 27, 2005 10:32 AM

Thank you for introducing us to another interesting author. I work in the world of politics, where nice-but-tough is the only way to survive. (One genteel, soft-spoken, gray-haired woman lawmaker recently gave me a look that would peel paint at 30 paces. But graciously...)
Shall look for Alisia Holliday's works. Thanks!

Dana

Posted by: Dana at July 27, 2005 1:39 PM

Ooops!! And here I've been pronouncing the H! Glad you said something ;)

Good interview!

Posted by: Angel at July 27, 2005 3:14 PM

What a treat! I enjoy the Literary Chicks blog, so I was tickled to see this interview. Thanks!

Posted by: Andi at July 27, 2005 4:36 PM

Oh my gosh! I just finished 'gods in Alabama", and I soooo loved it. An interesting side note is that from reading the book and from your picture on the cover, I just knew I somehow knew you. Since I grew up in Muscle Shoals, Al, graduated from UNA, and have lived around Atlanta for the last 24 years, I was crazy trying to figure out where our paths have crossed. I can tell I am much older than you so it is unlikely that it was in our youth...Your bio didn't tell me the name of your hometown--just deep South. Then finally I ran across the interview where you said Possett was loosely based on Leighton!!! I called my best friend who gave me the book and now lives in Huntsville and was just gloating that I had solved the mystery!!! I don't know you personally; I just know you because everything you write about is just soooo familiar. Southern writers always just suck me in, but the more I read them, the more clear it becomes that they are regional. A quarter way through 'gods'and I knew you had to have spent some considerable time in Northwest Alabama. I see bits and pieces of "my people" all through your characters. Write fast; I can't wait for the next book.

On a different note, the Microwave Garden, uh I mean Olive Garden is just barely passable when your NOT on vacation. Around Atlanta, find a Provino's. It is a family owned place or used to be family owned that has been around Atlanta for years. Yummy!

Posted by: Joan White at July 27, 2005 10:36 PM

To Joan's comment above-- Wasn't 'gods in Alabama' just ADDICTING?? I loved this book so much, and read it JUST after finishing Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd). If you are sucked in by the Southern style, and haven't read this one, 'bees' will do the trick. As for Joshilyn's 'gods' book, I truly missed the characters after I finished the book, because they came ALIVE during the story and I felt as though they were friends who had moved away when I was done. Eagerly awaiting the next one...more Southern style, served only the way JJ can serve it. Sunny side up.

Posted by: Diana at July 28, 2005 12:01 AM

I know exactly what you mean! I am so sorry to be finished with it. Yes, I, too, love "Bees"!! I just read her second one, "The Mermaid's Chair". It is not Bees but is definitely worth your time. I have a hard time even committing the time to a book lately if it is not Southern. I just finished two books by Cassandra King before I read 'gods', and they were good--'The Sunday Wife' and 'Making Waves'. I liked Making Waves the best. King is married to Pat Conroy, and I love his stuff too even though it is often dark. Oh, and you might read a little book called 'Ellen Foster' by Kay Gibbons. She is from North Carolina. I read it right after I read Bees and it too is about a young girl. I laughed and cried all through this tiny little book. Thanks for the comment; I can't wait for J.J.'s next one!

Posted by: Joan White at July 28, 2005 12:42 AM