Featured Fig: Alexandria Juliet Lenzi

What makes Figment Figment? Well, there are forums and blog posts and writing groups and featured books. But what really makes this place special are all of you Figs. So you should get some love.

California girl Alexandria Juliet Lenzi is a 17 year old writer, artist, and photographer. Not only does she tackle prose, she also dabbles in poetry and screenplays. An enthusiastic author, Alexandria‘s colorful personality (and hair!) shines through in her writing.

Know a Fig who should be featured here? Tell us about him or her–email admin@figment.com with your recommendations. Interviews may be edited and condensed.

You like to pencil sketch and watercolor.  Do you write what you draw? Do you ever sketch what you write?

They actually stay kind of separate. I’ve tried drawing my characters or scenes from my stories, but they either look nothing like I imagined them or transform underneath my pencil into a sketch of something totally different than what I set out to draw.

What’s your weirdest/most unique hobby?

Is dying your hair a hobby? I think my head is addicted to color. I dye it every month or so. So far I’ve done turquoise, pale green, blue, indigo, purple, pink, yellow, a bunch of different shades of red and auburn, brown, and white, but there’re still a lot more colors of the rainbow to go!

Music plays a big role in your life. How does that influence your writing?

Many of the artists I listen to have found their way into my stories and poems. For example, my novella, “Blackbird Pie“, was inspired by the gypsy-punk band Blackbird Raum. I was listening to their music while trying to fall asleep and began imagining the band members as miniature gypsies in punk attire! They became the characters in “Blackbird Pie“. Music is a muse as well as a meter, because it helps me gauge my feelings; what I’m listening to reflects my thoughts and points me in the direction I want to write.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

My dad is a great teacher and gives me constructive feedback on my writing. He told me once that you can’t write it for yourself, because the reader can’t see inside your head; you have to write it so everyone can see what you’re seeing. It really changed how I approached everything in my work and made me think outside the box.

How did you get into photography?

I guess when I started thinking in rectangles. I’d always been the one out of my friends who took pictures of everything with a point and shoot to capture each memory, but gradually it became more than that. I began seeing the world as though I was looking through a viewfinder. Photography really helps me orient the scenes in my stories; all I have to do is visualize them and tweak them like a photo in my head, and I can write about them like they’re happening in front of me.

Which literary character are you most like and why?

I wish I could say Imogene from Charles de Lint’s novel The Blue Girl, but she’s so much more cooler than me! She inspired me to be myself and started me on the path of green army jackets, striped socks, and crazy hair. In truth, I’m probably a lot more like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz: cheerfully lost, clumsy, and on a constant quest for that brain of mine.

You wrote “Flash Fiction” because you were inspired by a picture in your friend’s binder. Where else do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in everything! The weather influences me a lot, especially rain and clouds, because I find them so beautiful. Colors are another inspiration. So are snatches of conversation as people walk by me, personality quirks in people I meet, made-up names, music, and fashions and scenes I observe at school or in books. My emotions and others’ are extremely inspiring and so are my memories from the past. Basically, if I keep my mind open, anything’s liable to start a story in my head.

Which book would you like to see made into a movie?

There’re so many! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith would be funny [Editor’s note: This is happening! See the IMDb page here.], but I think a really good one would be either Tithe or Valiant by Holly Black.

Many of your writings are longer works, but you also write poems. How do you approach these two different styles?

When writing prose, I go through a process: developing the initial idea, researching or inventing characters and settings, and then writing and revising. I write poetry in a mostly unstructured form and just base the words off what immediately comes to mind. I stop if I come to a wall, because I only want to write what’s in the moment. Poetry is my emotional conduit, while writing is more of an art project I like to tweak and perfect.

Fill in the blank: “My most embarrassing writing moment was when . . . ”

I re-read the novel I attempted to write in sixth grade. It made me cringe. I had to resist the urge to crumple it up and throw it out the window. Let us not speak of it.

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