Alicia Godmasch: “Don’t ask for permission”

The main empowering lesson that I want my readers to take away is how strong and powerful a force love is in this world and in ours. There really isn’t anything stronger than love and, in this book, love takes many different shapes and forms. The reader will see just how powerful these bonds become. […]

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The main empowering lesson that I want my readers to take away is how strong and powerful a force love is in this world and in ours. There really isn’t anything stronger than love and, in this book, love takes many different shapes and forms. The reader will see just how powerful these bonds become. Nothing can break them, not even death. The same is true in our world. Love really is the strongest thing we’ve got, and we have to cherish it, appreciate it, nurture it and pass it along to those who may not have enough of it. Imagine what we could do as a nation, as a planet if we were just a little more patient, kind and loving to the other person? How much change would we be able to make in our world? I bet it would be a lot.

As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alicia Godmasch.

Alicia is an Atlanta based Author, Film Producer and Location Manager. She has worked as Producer on the television series “Married at First Sight” and is author of the book Retrograde: The Darkness. She is married to a German corporate controller and has a stepdaughter.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

Thank you for having me! This is so much fun. I can definitely share my story with you. As a child growing up, I was actually surrounded with persons from the Entertainment Industry. My uncle Herbert K. Ames was the first African American model for Sears Inc. and later the CEO and Founder of First Choice Bank. My late uncle Wilmer Ames Jr. was Founder and Editor in Chief of Emerge Magazine which was the first magazine that I know of that targeted upper income and middle income African American readers. Additionally, my brother Ronald Thomas was involved in modeling and acting as well, so the entertainment arena always felt like a very familiar space. Therefore, I enjoyed landing background roles in films growing up. When I was in college at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey, I continued working as background talent when I had time until I eventually landed a great corporate job at a multinational corporation. At first, I was really happy. I had the opportunity to travel all over the world and learn new languages as an International Financial Consultant, but the job also had a lackluster energy that I found tiresome. A couple of years later, I met and fell in love with my husband Andreas and lived over in Germany for five years. Germany is my second homeland and so I appreciated my time there. I learned the language and the culture, and it has a very special place in my life. In time, however, my husband wanted to try life out in America and I also began to feel that living in a different continent was too much for me. I was homesick. My husband and I soon decided to try life out in the United States. We moved down to Atlanta with my oldest brother Robert and his wife Olive. We had such a great time living with them. They helped my husband and I to get settled, which I am eternally grateful for. About a year later, I found my way into the entertainment industry. I was hired at first by an indie producer for an Amazon Prime Sci-Fi series and later by a great gentleman by the name of Jay Allen who is a Producer at Swirl Films. James Seppelfrick, the VP of Swirl Films and Jay brought me on as a Location Manager and I fell absolutely in love with the work. About two years ago, I began to get this story swirling around in my head. It was around this time that I watched Steven Spielberg’s talk about “the whispers” and when you know you have a great idea. And one day on set in November of last year, I was speaking with my colleague and spiritual guru about the Mercury in Retrograde phenomena. All of the sudden, I literally heard the whisper Steven Spielberg was talking about. I kid you not. And what I was told was that this was my story. The Retrograde was my story. I went home that night after working twelve hours and began writing. Later on, that night, and many nights thereafter, my story would play out to me in my dreams just like a movie. I would wake up the next day and write what I had dreamed the night before. All that to say, I feel like sometimes in life, we are given a gift by something greater than we are, and it’s up to us to bring that gift into the world. So, I am convinced that my career path chose me and not the other way around.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I feel that the story of how this book came about was definitely the most interesting story of my career.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

There were two challenges that I faced on my journey to becoming an author. The first challenge was building my village, because it takes a village to bring a book into the world. Although I had done some research, I did not realize all of the support that I would eventually need. I needed interior designers, cover artists, editors, a great PR team so that people would know that my book even existed, and the list goes on. Also, there is a price tag for every single one of those items. And they are not cheap either. But you have to put your all in it if you want your book to see the light of day. My second challenge was keeping my energy balanced. There are a lot of negative forces in the world and you don’t want their misery to affect your project. You have to keep that creative energy flowing so that it is not stifled. Think of your energy as a diamond. It’s precious so you are not going to allow someone to go and throw mud all over it. It’s the same thing with your energy. Negativity is like throwing mud on a diamond. You may not find that precious diamond again or if you do, it may not be as shiny even if you wipe it off a few times.

How did I overcome my challenges? Well, I overcame the first challenge by getting an overall scope of what it was going to take to get the book published, but then tackling the additional obstacles as they presented themselves. I took things step by step. Sometimes my steps were larger than others and sometimes my steps would linger in place before I could get a firm footing. It is all part of the process. The main thing is to keep moving forward. The second challenge was protecting my energy and there was a simple solution to that which was not telling anyone about the book until I was almost finished with it. This is not an easy thing to accomplish but it can be done. Work in silence sometimes and then slowly start building a small team of experts around you. And your experts will help you to gain confidence in your new project. It will be almost an osmosis-like experience. You will slowly begin to catch on and build your confidence in your village and in your creation. Eventually, when you get close to the finish line, you can open up about your project to close family members and friends about your book, because then you will be able to give an estimate of when it will be released, which is kind of nice.

I can share a story about that. I remember one day I was speaking with someone about my goals and I told them that I wanted to be a Film Producer. And this person, gave me this dubious look and was like “Well, I don’t know…” And I remember thinking to myself that this person couldn’t be more correct. No, they don’t know. No matter how well someone knows you, they freaking do not know what you can achieve or not achieve. Only you can decide that. I made it up in my mind going forward that I don’t need anyone’s well wishes or belief in my abilities. As long as I believe in my abilities, that is more than enough. Fortunately, I do have some great persons in my life that act as my support system. My mother Tina, for example, is my greatest champion. But even if you only have yourself, you’re still good to go. Get out and write your novel. Don’t ask for permission. If you don’t know how to do it, find out. Slowly build your village and make it happen. If there’s a will to do it, it can be done. Trust the process.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Omg. Yes. I have so many funny stories. I can tell you what… Selecting a cover for your book is a beast. I remember having a little chat with my cover design team and they were like “So Alicia, what are you thinking about for your cover?” And I was like “Ummm… I was thinking that I can let you all decide that.” And they were like “Yeah. Um. No.” I’ve been blessed with the gift of gab but honestly I was speechless in that moment because I really thought that after writing the whole book, I could just send them a sentence of what it is about and they were going to come up with something spectacular and it was going to just magically appear and then the end. And no, that was not the way this process went down. I am so grateful that they made me mull this over because they knew that only I would be able to decide what best represented my story. I am so glad that they dragged it out of me because I love the cover of this book so much. Once they were able to get some of my ideas out then we were able to flesh it out together. But I was not expecting to contribute to that process. I am not sure why I was expecting to just chillax while they figured it out. Maybe I was just tired from all of the writing and mentally I was a little spent.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am working on a super fun Sci-Fi film project called Quake with my business partner Joe Howell. We own a production company called Maswell Films. And I am writing the second book to the Retrograde: The Darkness duology which is incredibly fun. I love it that I am working on so many Sci-Fi projects at the moment. It is just fantastic.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

I can actually. To me, although the dynamic between Khalfani and Isis is extremely interesting, the bond between warrior Aurora and her adopted daughter Apple is so beautiful and intrigues me the most. It’s precious because Aurora is a warrior and because of previous losses in her life, she has her guard up. She does not want to become attached to anyone or anything. She loses herself in her work until one day, fate decides to present her with her daughter. Aurora was not looking for a child. It would certainly cramp her lifestyle and aspirations in life. And yet, when she sees the child, she cannot help but love it. And so, although she endures a loss, she gains something in return.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

The main empowering lesson that I want my readers to take away is how strong and powerful a force love is in this world and in ours. There really isn’t anything stronger than love and, in this book, love takes many different shapes and forms. The reader will see just how powerful these bonds become. Nothing can break them, not even death. The same is true in our world. Love really is the strongest thing we’ve got, and we have to cherish it, appreciate it, nurture it and pass it along to those who may not have enough of it. Imagine what we could do as a nation, as a planet if we were just a little more patient, kind and loving to the other person? How much change would we be able to make in our world? I bet it would be a lot.

Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t ask for permission. If you want to write a book, write it. You can choose to query to publishing houses to go through the traditional process or you can publish it yourself. There is nothing wrong with either choice. It just depends on your personality and your goals.
  2. Be patient. You will not be able to go through this process overnight and depending on which method you decide to get your book into the world it may take YEARS. Yes, years. You need patience when writing your book too. You will need to read it over and over and over and over. It can be annoying sometimes sure, but it’s also what you need to do. Be patient with yourself and others that may be in your village.
  3. Create a book cover that you absolutely love! But make sure that book cover was designed by professionals. Don’t do it alone because it will not look right. Your book cover sells your book. It is critical that you get professionals to help you design it. They know what appeals to readers. It is what they do all day, every day.
  4. Don’t tell the world that you are writing a book. Tell only the people you can count on to give you positive, honest feedback. Speak with people you trust. Your closest people. The more people you tell, the more you open yourself up to BS that could possibly discourage you or put a glitch in your vibe. You don’t need that. Do your research. Get your people together and once your rocking and rolling, you may tell someone, or you may gloriously keep it on the DL.
  5. Take time to meditate and work out regularly. Writing is great sure, but you still need time for yourself too. Working out can also be meditative sometimes. I find that running also helps with creativity and meditation and training is a great stress reliever which will come in handy when you read your book over and over and over again.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

I believe that traveling has helped me so much in this process because I had the chance to experience other cultures and architecture. I had the chance to observe how persons interact with each other in different lands and I find it all extremely interesting. A lot of these observations are reflected in my projects. I can remember one day when I was in Florence, Italy standing outside a gelateria and watching the people walking through town. There were two women that looked to be best friends and they were standing and talking. As the one woman was speaking with the other, she cupped her hand and briefly touched her friend’s cheek. It was just for a second or two, but I still remember it vividly. I thought it was such a beautiful gesture. Experiences like that stick with me and also the gelato was hella good. I need to get back there really soon actually. I have a brother and sister in law live in Torino and they have a niece and nephew of mine that I need to see.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I love writers like Suzanne Collins and N.K. Jemisin because these ladies do not play around when it comes to writing. I remember reading The Hunger Games trilogy. Omg. I could not put those books down. I literally would read them all day and all night on the weekends. My husband thought that there must be something pornographic in there because I was even hiding them under the dinner table and reading them. Just when before he was going to suggest therapy, he looked at the back cover and asked me what was wrong with me. When I told him the storyline, he began to understand my plight. And as far as N.K. Jemisin is concerned, talk about world building… I am currently reading her book “The Fifth Season” and I cannot put it down. Her description is so vivid. You can feel what her characters are going through, you get to know them, you get to know their environments and climates and currencies. She’s a force. I am eight chapters in on this book and can’t wait to get to book two!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-).

If I could start a movement, it would be to get a number of people to put their names into a database. And then that person would be connected to another person that looked nothing like them and had absolutely nothing in common with them. And their challenge would be to become best friends. They would spend a full week together talking, shopping, maybe hanging out and afterwards continue to nurture their bond. But the whole goal would be to discover something wonderful about that other person without any influence from anyone else. I think that would be great. When two people make it up in their minds that they are going to set everything else aside and accept each other, great things happen. Ha! You could call it Project Acceptance. In the end, it doesn’t matter what a person looks like, how much money they make, who they love or where they come from, accept them. Find something good. It won’t be that hard. All you need to do is be willing to try. That’s all.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram. My handle is @aliciagodmasch

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

Thank you so much! This was a lot of fun! It was so therapeutic. I enjoyed it.

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