Monday, October 15, 2012

Our Special Guest Today is...

Alicia Willis!

Alicia, welcome to Homeschool Authors.  Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My full name is Alicia Anne Willis. I am nearly twenty-one and am the oldest of eight children. Beyond writing, my interests include singing, being the church pianist, photography, teaching music, and building websites and e-newsletters. I live in Edgewood, New Mexico, affectionately known to most of us living here as Mayberry.

How did your homeschooling experience prepare you to write historical fiction?
Homeschoolers tend to have a more solid foundation in English grammar, history, and literature than individuals instructed through the public school system. This is probably due to the fact that they are provided with more one-on-one instruction and unbiased resources. I credit this to my own fascination for the past and the stories that can be interwoven with historical fact.

What caused your interest into the Middle Ages?
Knights, castles, squires, and sword-fighting has always intrigued me. When I first starting writing, the Middle Ages just happened to be something I was interested in – without really knowing why. Now, I think my interest has a great deal to do with the fact that the media has promoted numerous medieval fallacies that are simply untrue and need to be overturned. I’ve been on a long quest to discover the truth about the Middle Ages – and I’m still on my journey!

What are some of your favorite historical fiction books?
I LOVE Prisoners of the Sea by Florence Kingsley. My other favorites include Pearl Maiden, The Cat of Bubastes, The Cross Triumphant, Ben-Hur, and The Wrestler of Philippi. I really haven’t read too many modern works of historical-fiction – nearly all of the books listed above were written in the early 1900s or so.

What inspired you to write To Birmingham Castle: A Tale of Friendship and Adventure?
I actually had several reasons for wanting to write this series. First, I wanted to write a book that would be exciting and still be appropriate for all age groups. Too many books include extreme violence, inappropriate romance, or simply historical error – factors that I definitely wanted to avoid. Secondly, I wanted to supply readers with a book that was truly historically accurate. The Middle Ages was not a time of sorcery and fantasy like the media promotes, and I wanted to produce a book that reveals the true aspects of daily life within the Medieval Era.  

What is it about?
To Birmingham CastleTo Birmingham Castle details the life and adventures of a young Norman nobleman named Robert Fitz Hasseltine. Though he is the heir to his uncle’s vast earldom, he is characterized by ever-present mercy and compassion. His steadfast determination to aid the weak brings him face-to-face with several individuals who desperately need his protective care – individuals who must throw themselves on his compassion and rely on his strength to overcome their pasts and lead successful, happy lives.

However, there are many dangerous enemies who hate Robert’s steadfast character and merciful heart. Cruel and pitiless, they would do anything to vanquish his compassion and shower their malice upon his cause. During his eventful journey from squire to knight to earl, Robert must prove his strength and conquer the foes that beset him – and that without compromising or giving up. Battles, tournaments, rivalry, peril, and heartwarming scenes of loyalty weave the story together and prove that mercy and truth uphold a victorious shire.

To Birmingham Castle is a novel of adventure, suspense, friendship, and courage, as a young man embarks on a perilous journey to overcome tyranny and reform chivalry in medieval England.

Where can people buy it?
You can purchase To Birmingham Castle by navigating to CrossBooks, Parables, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Books and Bibles, and many more retailers. You can find a larger list of retailers at my website It is available both in paperback and ebook formats.

Do you plan to write more books?
Yes!!! I love to write and I feel strongly that God wants me to serve Him through my writing. To Birmingham Castle is actually the first book in a series of three, so I’ll need to write at least two more historical-fiction novels. And, after that, I have plans for a collection of books about Christians in other time periods. Of course, this is all Lord willing.

What is the best writing advice you have received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is probably “Let the characters tell their own story”. In other words, don’t over-narrate – let the dialogue and the personalities of the characters reveal what you want to get across to the reader.

Who will enjoy your book?
Thus far, I’ve received good reviews from people ages 12-75, so it is a bit difficult to put an age level on my book! It was written to be appropriate for all age groups, yet its historical aspects and reading level may be more suited for 13+. I think anyone who is intrigued by knights and enjoys historical accuracy without tedious dates/places will enjoy my book.

Do you have any final thoughts?
couldn't have ever accomplished my goal of writing and publishing To Birmingham Castle without the help of the Lord. He gave me both the vision and strength to fulfill it. Now, my goal as a writer is best described by the Latin phrase Ad maioram Dei gloriam – to the greater glory of God. 

Alicia Willis is offering a PDF copy of her book To Birmingham Castle. Enter to win below.


  1. At what age did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

    -Jessica P.

  2. Your book sounds very good! Who are your favorite authors and/or the ones that inspired you the most?

  3. Alicia, did you self-publish or take a traditional publishing route? I'm looking at the options (although my book isn't done yet). What do you recommend?

  4. How very fascinating! I had no idea people called Edgewood NM Mayburry. Alicia's story sounds fun. I've always enjoyed historical fiction - especially of the medieval and middle ages.


  5. We are in the process of reading Alicia's book now, as a read-aloud in our homeschool. We are LOVING it!! She is an extremely talented young lady!

  6. I appreciate your goal of writing something that would be appropriate for all ages. How has being the oldest of 8 influenced/encouraged/shaped your writing? (I'm also oldest of 8.) :)

  7. Hello Everybody! It was great to hear from you all.

    Jessica P, I think I first knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 10.

    Thanks, Kelsey! My very favorite author is Florence Morse Kingslsey. I especially recommend her book Prisoners of the Sea. It's amazing!
    She, Henty, and Louisa May Alcott inspired me the most. :)

    Yes, Jessica, we love our little Mayberry. We're still a dry county and any tiny bit of action brings swarms of police. :)

    Thank you, Aunt Maellen! You guys are a blessing to me.

    Lauren, I did both. My publisher, CrossBooks, is pretty much a traditional publisher, but it has the benefit of author rights thrown in. I would recommend going traditional if you want the benefits of marketing, retailer availability, cover design, etc. May God bless your writing endeavors!

    Perry, being the oldest of eight has helped me to prioritize my writing. Not only do you have to put real people above fictitious ones, but you have to learn how to keep your train of thought while jumping up to comfort a baby or change a diaper. It's an adventure. :)

    Thank you everybody!!!