When you see this picture you usually think of one person– L.V. Lewis! Today, L.V. Lewis is the guest in my Chat Chair. She is the writer of The Ghetto Girl Quadrilogy! Her book Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever is the first to be released–yup folks there will be 3 more to follow! If the name of her book sounds like another book, that’s not by accident. What was unexpected was for this book to develop a cult following of its own! Just in case you’re not familiar with her book feel free to click on the cover below, it is Amazon linked.
Who is L. V. Lewis? What does your life revolve around?
L. V. Lewis is a wife, a mother, and an author who recently rekindled her passion for writing. Life obligations, motherhood, and fear-of-failure kept me from pursuing writing immediately after college, so I pursued a business career instead. The proliferation of electronic publishing platforms and self-publishing made it possible for me to make my dream of being a published author come true. My life revolves around my family and writing.
Tell us where you are from.
My place of origin is a well-kept secret. (Ps-sst! That picture isn’t really LV! She’s incognito. But we won’t hold that against her!) However, I currently have one foot in South Georgia and another in North Florida. I live in Georgia and work in Florida. It’s the best of both worlds.
I have always maintained residency in the South, however, if I had my way I would move within a train’s distance of New York City. It has always been a dream of mine to live near a major metropolitan city so I can have access to the arts and great shopping.
How was life growing up? How does it affect your writing?
I grew up in a very large blended family. My father was a prolific man and was blessed with two families in his lifetime. His first wife, and mother of my first twelve half-siblings, died prematurely. My parents met and my father became daddy to my mother’s seven children and they had four children together. I am the eldest of the four.
My father insisted he had no “step-children” and we had no “half-siblings.” He was adamant that all of his children would know and love one another. I remember going to Michigan in the summers where I forged a strong relationship with my siblings there. Later, I visited my siblings in New York City. It was very interesting growing up like that because we were exposed to very different cultures at a young age. I am grateful for the way I grew up because it made me the person I am today with my own unique set of experiences to draw from in my writing.
What motivates you to write?
I am a firm believer in art imitating life. What excites my muse ranges from music, to a situation that resonates with me, dreams, extreme emotion good or bad, and just waking up every day. When I rise, I try to remember to thank my creator for giving me another day, and the next thing I think about is whether I’m going to get to write that day. It is safe to say that I have a passion for writing that will remain whether I become successful in society’s eyes or not.
When did you know you were a writer?
I believe I knew I was a writer as early as my teens. For some reason, I’ve always been intrigued by the written word. Literature was my favorite subject in high school and art was very important to me. I remember drawing a mural in colored chalk on the chalkboard in my literature class of the classic Julius Caesar stabbing by Brutus and the other Roman Senators. I recited soliloquies from Shakespeare, and other classics. I spent hours writing my own stories in the solitude of the football stadium across from my house. Yes, I was a weird teen.
You say weird, I think outstanding! How much of what you write is based on personal experiences?
If I had to provide a percentage, I’d have to say about eighty percent. When I began my journey I followed the oft-quoted words of advice to “write what you know.” As I learn more and grow and mature as a writer, I tend to stray from that piece of advice. Yet, everything I write is influenced by who I am and that will likely never change. Eventually, I hope to be a writer who writes consistently “beyond what I know,” or as it was so eloquently put by Pulitzer Prize winner, Richard Ford, “write above your head.”
Share with us your writing process.
Because writing is currently considered a “pastime” of mine because it doesn’t pay the bills, I have to steal blocks of time to write. So, I don’t currently have a process in the parameters of a schedule, but when I do get the opportunity, I’m more of an organic writer or what some call a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants author” or “pantser” for short. Even on those rare occasions where I’ve been able to draft an actual outline before writing, I generally veer from it so dramatically that the end result looks nothing like the outline. Now, I just tend to go with the flow and let my characters direct where the story goes. I have a strong preference for character rather than plot-driven stories. I believe this is because I find characters way more interesting than plot.
What genre do you read? What authors do you admire?
I think my reading preferences are rather eclectic because I don’t stay firmly in any one genre. Much like I do with the music I listen to, I tend to vary my choices. I will read anything that is well-written and strikes my fancy. I read a lot of mainstream literary fiction, and in genre fiction I read a lot of women’s fiction, chick-lit, thrillers, mysteries, fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, and urban fantasy (all of these with romantic elements). Oddly, while I love writing romance, I have a hard time reading it exclusively.
My favorite African American authors are Ernest J. Gaines, Walter Mosley, Tananarive Due, Toni Morrison, Junot Diaz, Attica Locke, Stephen L. Carter, ZZ Packer, Alice Walker, Colson Whitehead, and Suzan-Lori Parks, Beverly Jenkins and Brenda Jackson. Other writers I love include: William Faulkner, Joan Didion, Cheryl Strayed, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, Tennessee Williams, and the great Alexandre Dumas.
Taking their place among my favorites now are many of my contemporary colleagues in the indie business to include: Holley Trent, Ambrielle Kirk, Melissa Blue, Delaney Diamond, M. Malone, The Black, Nia Forrester, Synithia Williams, Olivia Linden, Sienna Mynx, Renee Luke, this host of this chat (Nikki Walker) and many others I would need to take the rest of this chat to name. There are still plenty indies I have not yet had the pleasure to read yet, so I’m sure this list will grow as I continue to be a part of this vibrant community.
It’s so kind of you to include me in the list of what I consider gifted writers. What advice would you give others about writing?
First and foremost, study the craft. The foundation must be firm to yield a strong body of work. Write often, every day if you can. Read often, every opportunity you get. Leave no stone unturned in your quest for literary success. Cultivate a strong network of literary contemporaries with whom you can share successes, commiserate over your failures, and support. Pay everything you learn forward. Keeping it to yourself won’t benefit anyone. Helping others ultimately affords you the ability to help yourself.
What pivotal experience in your life formed an imprint on you?
My father did not have the opportunity to finish high school, let alone college. However, he was a man who craved knowledge. I remember him purchasing a set of World Book Encyclopedias for our family when I was a very small child (yes, these were the pre-cursor to the internet). He read every one of them from cover to cover, and he always encouraged me to take my education seriously. His enthusiasm for learning and his dream that I receive the education he could not left an indelible impression on me. My father passed away when I was seventeen, but I never forgot his dream for me. I went on to become valedictorian of my graduating class.
That is so touching LV! What would you like people to know about you that they might not know already?
Erotic romance isn’t my first successful attempt at writing. I published a short story for which I was paid when I was a teenager. I also wrote a lot of bad poetry in college that will never see the light of day. (Well, maybe those couple I published in a college magazine might somehow be revived.) I also have several works in progress that pre-date my parody.
I believe whatever genre you decide to write would be equally successful! Finally, tell us what are you working on and when can we expect a release?
I’m currently working (at times it seems ad nauseum) on my sophomore offering for the Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy, “Exit Strategy.” I made a horrible estimation for completion initially (a mere two months after the previous book’s release). I will never make that mistake again. Even the best traditional writers take a year or more to complete a follow-up book. I was naïve. I was anxious to give my readers what they wanted and failed to take into consideration many unforeseen circumstances, not the least of which was an accident in January which injured my dominant (writing) hand and left shoulder. This quickly derailed my release plans. Then another series of unfortunate events occurred, which I won’t go into here. Suffice to say, I’m hoping for a summer release of “Exit Strategy” and I’ll leave it at that. As the time nears I’ll give a more definitive release date.
Well I’m sure I speak for many when I say this book is greatly anticipated! LV it has been a true honor to have you in my Chat Chair! I found what you’ve shared so poignant! Thank you for dropping by!
Here are her additional books written since this interview. Check them out!