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Meet local novelist Alycia Ripley

Alycia in Wonderland

Novelist Alycia Ripley was working on an MFA at New York University when she became acquainted with the late Hunter S. Thompson.

“Hunter happened to be there in 2001 when I went to NYU, but he wasn’t on the roster teaching,” says Ripley, who wound up working for the celebrated journalist as an assistant. “He liked my attitude and how I was. Later on, he told me that I have to carry on this ‘gonzo’ feeling.”

“He was always adamant with me. One day he called me and said, ‘Get up and meet me at NYU, we’re going to mow the lawn.’ I met him down there and he taught me something that I will never forget. I mowed this little piece of land and people just stared at me. I asked him what the purpose of this was and he said, ‘This is what celebrity is. Everybody stares at what you are doing. I want you to remember this feeling. I want you to know what celebrity feels like.’”

Ripley’s first novel was Traveling With an Eggplant; the Buffalo native has also written three novellas: “Dating Jason Statham,” “Two White Houses,” and “Nothing But Flowers.”

Ripley’s latest novel, The Final Alice, is the first installment in a modern trilogy whose heroine is the great-granddaughter of the title character of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Ripley displaces Carroll’s jovial, children-centered themes with bizarre, wildly hilarious tales intended for more mature and worldly audiences. “I wanted to write a book that would mix the fantastic and the real,” she says. “This book is for an adult by an adult.

“A lot of this book was taken from my life,” she continues. “Alice and her feelings are taken directly from me. I had to read Alice in Wonderland multiple times. I also watched every single movie that had to do with the book. There are a lot of references to the original text. I had to become very familiar with it. The research was way more intensive than you think—you have to know the book inside and out.”

The Final Alice took Ripley three years to write. “People have been telling me it reads very quickly, and that’s great,” she says. “There’s a lot of spiritual elements in it, there’s so much homage—it took a lot of time to get that right.”

Ripley is currently touring to promote the book, which was rleased in October 2010. The two sequels, Alice’s Army and What Alice Found, are planned for 2012 and 2014, respectively.

At the book launch event for The Final Alice, held at the Town Ballroom on November 6, Ripley wore a costume reminiscent of Alice from Alice in Wonderland. “I have really interesting shows planned that are different than typical book events,” she said. “I wear an Alice costume and show the teaser trailer and have a lot of audiovisuals.

“I’m really big into trailers, like for film. I treat this book like a film. The same way I would market film, I would market this. I don’t like the idea of using a literal show—a literal teaser. I like conceptual, I like people to get a mood and be affected by it in a very visceral way.”

There are autographed copies available at the Barnes and Noble on Transit Road. More information can be found at

michael koh

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