An Interview With Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis is a black author from Alabama. She loves writing YA and adult SFF with mixes of horror. Her books always have a dog in them and she spends most of her free time sleeping or watching HGTV-type shows (they’re really relaxing!).

It’s Sunday. Do you know what that means? It’s interview day! Let’s read, learn and connect with this year’s fantastic bunch of writers, editors and agents. Today’s interviewee is brand new author, Jessica Lewis.

Jessica’s Advice for Other Writers

“When querying, get a separate email just for querying! Don’t use it for anything else. Separate it from your phone and only check it once a day (or less frequently if you can!). That way, you won’t start dreading getting an email to your personal email, and you can prepare yourself before receiving publishing news. Take care of yourself!

As you’re one step closer to publication and out of the “query trenches,” can you tell us what your experience was like? Did things happen quickly or did they drag on? Etc.
I was definitely not an instant success. I queried two books over three years. The first was a zombie trilogy that had some serious pacing problems. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, and I queried 64 agents before throwing in the towel. I got close with that book (11 full requests, an R&R), but I’m so glad that one wasn’t picked up. I truly wasn’t ready yet. After shelving that first book, I wrote a YA contemporary fantasy. This one was lighter, funnier, and I had a blast drafting it.

But this time I had some serious character problems, so I shelved it after entering it a mentor-ship contest three times and three strikeouts. I took a year off from drafting because my grandmother was sick, but that year I never stopped learning and growing. I kept beta reading, studying craft, and writing tiny snippets of ideas. When my grandmother was declared cancer-free, I was so happy I wrote my third book in a month. That book would go on to get into Pitch Wars, get my agent, and now it’ll be my debut novel! So it was a long journey, but completely worth it in the end. I feel like I have a good foundation now, and I can only get better the more I practice! 

According to your Twitter page, your book’s due to be released in 2021. Can you give us any spoilers?
No spoilers! But the short pitch is: a scrappy girl discovers she can raise the dead, and decides to do so for money. I hope everyone will check it out in summer 2021!!

Now for something fun – it’s an either/or game!
Coke or Pepsi
: I only drink (sweet) tea, lemonade, or water.
Coffee or Tea: Tea!
The Woods or the Beach: Neither. I do not like the sun and I do not like bugs lol
Music or Television: Music for sure
Prose or Poetry: Prose
City or Suburbs: Suburbs (though visiting a city is nice)
Vampires or Werewolves: Werewolves all the way!
Faeries or Will-o-wisps: Neither.
Wands or Self projecting magic: Self-projecting feels like it’s more practical, and I’m always a fan of the practical haha
Science fiction or Fantasy: I like both for different reasons, but I’ll say fantasy edges out SF for me just a bit. My SF ideas are all very serious/sad, but fantasy has the potential to go so many different ways.

Who or what encouraged you to start your writing journey? Was it something you’ve always felt you had to do or did your dream come later in life?
I’ve been writing since middle school, back when my friends wanted “insert fan fiction of themselves in popular shows” at the time. It was an enjoyable hobby until my senior year of college, when I finished my first novel-length book.

I decided to pursue publication and got serious about studying craft, agents, and how to actually write a book, haha! But even before thinking about publishing, I have always had so much fun writing. It’s fun to think about new worlds and the characters who inhabit them. 

Now that your debut novel is underway, what other projects are you working on? What’s next for you?
A lot of my works-in-progress are secret, but I’m hard at work on another YA fantasy/horror hybrid! I’ve also dipped my toe into MG and I’m loving it so far. I’ll be sure to let you know when I have more information I can share!

Check back next week to meet author David Rae, along with my first interview swap! In the meantime, have a read of last week’s interview with Dr. Jason Carson (John Shupeck).

Leave a Reply