L. V. Lewis is a married, mother of four who lives in South Georgia, and works in the Florida Panhandle. A new author who decided that stories like Fifty Shades of Grey needed a little more diversity and comedy in them, she penned Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever as a parodied response to those wildly popular books from a woman of color. A voracious reader since kindergarten, and writer since her teens, L.V. loves nothing more than to curl up with a good book and a glass of wine. She and her husband are political junkies, a hobby that is time consuming, but free. Now that Lewis has teens who think they don’t need their parents anymore, she has taken up another time-draining career of writing. However, she is happy to report that, for once, her extra-curricular activity costs far less than her husband’s. Her love for writing is only eclipsed by her love for her family.
What inspires you to write?
What inspires me to write in general is my passion for the written word–the various and sundry ways you can use the English language to convey a message. I’ve always loved reading and had this longing to be among those who wove the tales, not just someone who was on the receiving end of them. As a minority, early in my life there weren’t a lot of choices, so I’ve always desired to be among those creating choices for other people who look like me.
I think what I wanted to see in Fifty Shades of Grey, but did not, is what inspired me to write my current book series. I wanted more diversity in Fifty Shades of Grey, sort of like my favorite TV Show, Grey’s Anatomy. I wanted a heroine who was a flawed, yet strong character, who could stand up to the male protagonist–one who didn’t have to be told that as a submissive she had the power. Also, I was very intrigued by what the Fifty Shades of Grey books have done in the industry, and I wanted to see how something similar with an ethnic flavor would be received.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am an organic writer of sorts, I suppose. I don’t follow a strict outline or plot map. I do write outines and summaries, but I rarely follow them to the letter. I generally veer from them dramatically, which usually necessitates the re-writing of said outline/summary. My process involves writing down the over-arching idea for a story and drafting a tenative plot outline. I have literally pages of these, and I keep them until the story calls to me like a siren and I can’t help writing it. As I write the story, the outline could change daily, and sometimes it becomes a completely different story than I first intended.
So, I guess I’m really a seat of the pants writer, and my characters sketches are sketchy at best. 🙂
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I do both. Listening to them is generally what causes me to veer from my outline so much, and usually, their advice is exponentially better than anything I can dream up on my own. When I allow them to speak and I translate what they’re telling me to say on paper, a scene is much more intense, much more natural if it’s dialogue, and more cohesive as a narrative than when I force them to bend to my will. Talking to them usually takes the form of an argument, because I’m trying to convince them to kow-tow, but they’re some very persistent little buggers.
What advice would you give other writers?
The best advice I can give other writers is to remain true to your vision. Even though you should always be in a posture of learning craft as a writer, there is an intrinsic knowledge of your story that no one else has. I say this because I used to have a tendency to allow editors, pre-readers, and readers even to sway me too easily from my vision of the story. I learned the hard way when I was solicited by a well-known NY agent to send in the first 50 pages of a manuscript I was working on. When I began the process of polishing these 50 pages, I employed a relatively well-known editor to give it a good once-over. I took all the suggestions given by this editor as gospel and it changed the whole trajectory of the story. The agent wanted the exact opposite of everything the editor suggested, which were the very things I’d done in the beginning. If I had followed my own heart, or my gut in this situation, I would have been agented. However, you live and you learn. That situation taught me a valuable lesson about my value as a writer and demonstrated to me that I should never compromise my vision based on someone else’s opinion.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My decision on how to publish was predicated on my age, primarily. I decided that since I’d waited until my nest was almost empty to write, and I was comfortably middle-aged, I didn’t want to waste away another five years or so querying agents. My first correspondence with an agent was when I was asked to send the 50-pager after the agent had seen another story I’d written. This was validating in and of itself for me, so I didn’t necessarily need to have an agent finally “bless” me with representation. I’d been reading so much about the burgeoning self-publishing phenomenon, and after seeing other writer friends do it, I decided this was my vehicle for publication.
I advise new writers to do what they feel most comfortable with.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I recently read this somewhere, so it’s not an original thought by any means. I believe the publishing industry will eventually come to some agreement on how the traditional publishing industry and the self-publishing industry can co-exist, sort of like the movie and music industries have done.
However, this is all me: publishing is this generation’s big industry to undergo growing pains foisted upon it by independents or indies. I believe the two will come to a happy medium.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Erotic Romance, Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print