Sunday, July 3, 2016

Q and A with author Alisha Vincent

            Alisha Vincent, who writes under the pen name of A.L. Vincent, published her first book in 2015, the inaugural book in the “Fleur de Lis Series” titled “Tangled Up in You.” Her second book in the series, “Running on Empty,” is expected out soon.  
            Vincent will be signing copies of her novel, along with other writers, at the July Book Expo on July 9 at the Thensted Center in Grand Coteau. We caught up with the Acadiana author for an interview.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer? Is this your first foray into publishing?
A: I have wanted to write since I was in high school. When I was 14, I wanted to be the next S.E. Hinton, so I wrote my first novel, “Summer Love.” I never did anything with it, but I did start exploring the idea of publishing then. “Tangled up in You” is my first published novel. I’ve been working on getting that one published for about four years now.
            Q: I see you are a teacher. Where do you live and where do you teach?
A: I am a teacher. I taught English and reading for 14 years, every grade from sixth to 12th. Two years ago, I took a special education position at New Iberia Senior High, and I’ve loved that change. I find it very rewarding.
            Q: What was the inspiration for “Tangled Up in You?”
A: I can’t really say one thing was the inspiration for that book. A friend of mine brought me a newspaper clipping about a writing contest sponsored by The Jambalaya Writer’s Conference in Houma. To enter, you had to submit the first 1,500 words of a novel. I wrote 1,500 words and submitted it and ended up winning third place. I decided then to see where the story would go.
If I had to say what my inspiration was though, I would say this area and the people. I love south Louisiana and Cajun country in particular. I get so many story ideas just by driving around or taking in our local artwalks, festivals, etc.
            Q: You deal with PTSD in this book, is this an issue you feel strongly about?
A: It is. My brother was a Marine. He was KIA in Iraq, and through that experience I’ve talked with and met veterans that deal with this issue. 
            Q: There’s a joke about people who leave Louisiana, that they always come back. Is that what your character Emily Breaux does?
A: I have to laugh at this question. I moved to Louisiana in 2001 from Oklahoma, and fell in love with this place. In 2012, I ended up moving back to Oklahoma. As you can see, I had to come back. So yes, I think that’s a joke, but it’s true.
Emily didn’t leave Louisiana, she moved from Bon Chance which is a town loosely based on Grand Isle, or the Cypremort Point area. She moved to Lafayette to attend college and stayed, but ended up moving back home. 
            Q: This book is part of the Fleur de Lis series — what’s coming up?
A: The next book in the series is called “Running on Empty.” It starts right where “Tangled Up in You” ends. It’s the story of Grace and Gabriel, two of the younger people in the group of friends.  Here’s a snippet of the synopsis:
Gabriel Angelle has been crazy about Grace since high school. Every time he went to confess his feelings for her, the look in her eyes stopped him. That “just a friend” look. When the manager of his band suggests he change his look for the new tour, he runs with it. During a break from touring, he returns to Bon Chance with a new look and new confidence. This time will be different. He soon finds out that not only is he different, but Grace is as well. Grace’s sparkling eyes are now haunted by something she refuses to talk about.
“Running on Empty” is due out in November or December.
Q: Since you’re from Oklahoma, what’s your favorite thing about your new home?
A: I don’t know. It’s hard to pick. I think it would have to be the joie de vivre of the people here. Life is celebrated through festivals, food, friends and family. You don’t find that everywhere else. It’s unique to this area and I love it.
Want to know more? Visit Vincent’s website,  www.lisaslouisianahome.com.

Social media
A while back I gave a social media workshop for writers through the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana. On Saturday, I will be doing the same, but this time for artists (which includes writers). “Facebook, Twitter and Blogs, Oh My!: Navigating Social Media for Artists” will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Lafayette Art Association & Gallery. The cost is $25 for LAA members and $35 for non-members. Please bring your laptop, smart phone, iPad or other tablet. To register, call (337) 269-0363 or email info@lafayetteart.org.

New releases
Just in time for summer camp comes a book that will make kids squeal with delight and horror. Editor Laura Roach Dragon, author of “Hurricane Boy,” has compiled 13 scary campfire stories with Louisiana settings in “The Bayou Bogeyman Presents Hoodoo and Voodoo,” published by Pelican Publishing. Writers of these creepy tales include Roach, Gary Alipio, Teri Hoover Dunham, Julie Gonzalez, Patricia Hefler, Sue Houston, Virginia Howard, Cheryl Mathis and Josephine Schloegel.

At the Library
The one-year anniversary celebration of Lafayette Public Library’s Main Branch will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Main Library, 301 W. Congress St. in downtown Lafayette. The celebration will include a magic show by Rick Hessler starting at 10:30 a.m., balloon animals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., children’s crafts, a scavenger hunt, a large table-top coloring project for adults and refreshments, including cake.
The Main Library is a newly renovated downtown facility that re-opened July 7, 2015, after a four-year renovation. The 65,000-plus square-foot building cost $10.5 million to construct and features a large children’s area with Story Castle, a crafts room, a teen area, a makerspace with 3D printer and laser cutter, a genealogy room and an outdoor quiet space known as “Mary’s Garden,” as well as 80 public computers, a large meeting room, multiple study rooms and a drive-thru.    

Book events
The July Book Expo featuring numerous local authors will be Saturday, July 9, at the Thensted Center in Grand Coteau.    
Get Pop-Cultured with Barnes & Noble, a month-long celebration of pop culture with special events, will run through Aug. 7 at the Lafayette store. On Friday, “Finding Dory” begins at 7 p.m., where children will have the opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt as well as other activities and giveaways.
Two authors will discuss and sign their books from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10, at the Faulkner House, 624 Pirate’s Alley in the French Quarter of New Orleans. John Gregory Brown, a native of the city, will discuss his recent novel, “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” and Richard Grant will discuss his new memoir, “Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta.” The event is free and open to the public. RSVP to faulkhouse@aol.com.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.