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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Author Spotlight: Tiffany C. Lewis

What prompted you to become a writer?

I have always been writing. I was the editor in chief of my high school newspaper for a year and my teacher really encouraged me to write. I was introduced to Edgar Allen Poe around the same time so I loved poetry, dark writing and odd forms of literature. Less traditional styles were my favorite. After high school, I went into Early Childhood Education which took me away from writing, but in 2010 or so I was connected with a mentor who was an author and publisher and the rest is history!

Why Crime Fiction? What makes the genre special to you?

I went through a few phases before I wrote my first book and one included a deep love for true crime TV shows. I discovered murder and mayhem which I always enjoyed in a more classical sense (think Jack the Ripper), but all of a sudden it was more about the detective and his life. That’s what made it different. In 2012 Investigation Discovery, a channel fully devoted to true crime shows, was ranked number 3 in its demographic of women ages 25-54. I was glued to that channel! Detectives were interviewed and told their stories to us! I was enthralled! So, by the time my first novella was conceived, I was so over stimulated by detectives and criminals, it was natural. Before that, my work was still dark with murder and crime as a topic, but adding investigation and detectives was where I found my butter zone!

Populate the soundtrack of your life with five songs.

* No Tears Left to Cry by Ariana Grande

* Element by Kendrick Lamar

* Scared of the Dark by Lil Wayne and Ty Dollar Sign

* Sorry Not Sorry by Demi Lovato

* Stir it Up by Patti LaBelle

Which works for you Plotting or Wherever the Story Takes You?

I am an ABSOLUTE plotter. I cannot write a book without outlining it. I turn into a deer in headlights. Oh my god, what’s next, what is my character going to do? I know many people argue that aggressive plotting kills creativity and free flow, but I promise, most of my stories deviate from the outline at some point. My characters still lead me through the story and I still feel very creatively satisfied. I just realized recently that the “genius” character I as writing is actually kind of a dummy, so I’m changing my story to suit that. My outline totally meant for him to be smarter than everyone in his PD and that just did not happen. I’m okay with that. Additionally, I did have to create that outline to begin with so… bam… creativity. Lol.

What’s the best compliment anyone’s ever given you?

I work as an early childhood educator amidst my writing career, and I recently had a parent tell me I was the best teacher ever. I just started working in this class in late January and a new kiddo started in my class a few weeks ago. He is having a bit of a hard time transitioning but communicating with the parents and helping that kiddo settle in has been going great. The mom told me that recently and I really appreciated that!

How long did it take you to write your new novel El Jefe?

Well, because I am a fastidious plotter and I take notes on all my dates up to publication, I can tell you that I started writing the manuscript in August of 2014, this was right after I released Inside Out, however, Jefe was not ready for the world. I needed to manage some Inside Out issues and that turned into Stitches, released in February 2019. I started writing Jefe again in January of 2018 and completed the first draft in October of that year. So all and all, not counting the 2014 false start, it took about 8 months. That’s actually quite long for me. Inside Out took one month to write and I’ve completed two other manuscripts in one month thanks to #NaNoWriMo!

How much of your life seeps into your writing?

I would say none, I’m not a detective or criminal, but many of my books are based in my hometown, Oakland CA. Sometimes I imagine that while my characters are moving about the city, I am too. I know every corner of the city and surrounding cities in the Bay Area. We have moved since publishing, but I am still very connected to the city, have family and friends there and am very inspired by the Bay Area culture and lifestyle.

Why should people read El Jefe?

First, El Jefe has two antagonists. Double the chaos! They are both very complex and offer readers a chance to glimpse the battle between good and evil that reside in each of us. Where Michael, my main character, only works for justice, our antagonists’ motives are shrouded in their mixed emotions. Additionally, Michael Taylor is an African American detective with high moral standards and admirable behavior. Unlike the negative African American characters portrayed in many books, TV shows and movies, this character will bring a positive feeling to those who value and appreciate African American culture. Lastly, all the secondary characters add to the dimensions in the story. There are characters that fit many nationalities and orientations which is a direct representation of the culture and heritage in the Bay Area that I write about.

The coolest line in your novel is...

The first bullet surprised the smile off his fat face. The last bullet sent him to hell.”
I would love to give more info about this line, but all I’ll say is revenge is sweet.

Is there any other genre you’d like to tackle?

Absolutely! I have a Sci-Fi YA outline in the works, I’m conspiring to co-write a Fantasy Crime Fiction novel with a fellow author, and I have an erotic crime fiction title that’s waiting for editing. I also completed a Short Story collection last year which I wrote completely from scratch. 9 stories which include my first ghost story, a romance, sci-fi along with my normal crime and murder stuff – and every single story has a female main character! I’m so excited to release this one.

El Jefe is the third book in the Detective Michael Taylor series, as this series grows, does it get any easier to write?

Yes and no. I think the issue is when you get two or three books in you have to decide how much back story to include, how to stay true to the characters and old plot points, and what new developments will come about. Knowing the characters inside and out from the first and second books is cool and makes things easier, but growth still has to happen and that’s where the work is.

If you were NOT an awesome writer; what would you be?

I would be a teacher, which I am. Lol. Technically, the goal would be to move to older students and be a work at home professor. I have my Master’s degree in Communication and I am contemplating a PhD in the same subject which would give me the credentials to teach college. I would also love to be a trainer. I have trained lots of adults in my life time on a number of subjects, but never as a full-time job. However, being a full-time author and publisher is the goal!

What scares you?

Not a whole lot. I have a nice list of things I “dislike” like snakes and shark attacks, but the only thing I am truly scared of is if something bad happened to my child. Working in the childcare industry for so long has shown me some tragic circumstances and I know the world is dangerous so we look after our daughter very closely. She’s not sheltered, we know she has to have autonomy and get out in the world in order to grow, but her safety is never far from my mind.

What did you edit OUT of your current book?

In Jefe, I edited out one of my characters aggressive and mean attitude. A few bad things happened to her, some worse than others, and I made her very hard edged originally. A beta reader told me that she thought that character was a “bitch” after reading it and I was shocked. Not because of the foul language, but because I was going more for very upset and heartbroken, not bitchy. After re-reading from that perspective, I saw my error and cut some of the sass.

Are you in it for the money, the fame or…?

I’m want it all! Money, fame, prestige, screaming fans. Honestly, I love readers’ admiration. I love when they tell me they like my characters. I want my books to be made into movies as well. I actually write them a little bit like the films and shows I’ve seen. All and all, I’m not in a rush for whatever comes, but I am working hard to get all I want so we’ll all just have to see!

Current projects? Future Projects?

Currently, I am completing a Small-Town Crime Fiction novella and I’m very excited to edit this one. It’s gone a little astray from the outline in terms of character development so I get to dig in. I don’t have another book to write at this moment but I have tons of outlines to develop into manuscripts. As far as releases go, after Jefe gets a good run, I’ll release my first female private investigator, Alyssa Fairfield. Her novella is a compelling origin story of her P.I. career – serial killers included!

Who do you enjoy reading?

I’m branching out a lot more lately thanks to the advice of a great friend. Currently, listening to The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James which is a ghost story. Second one I read by her. I have about 10 indie books to read by super talented #WritingCommunity peeps such as Evelyn Chartes, Joseph S. Samaniego, Robert Raker and CJ Douglas. These range from Fantasy to Erotic and back around to Crime Fiction.

In five years’, you’ll be…

If I stick to my one book a year formula, I would be close to releasing book 6 in the Michael Taylor series by then, Rebellion LIT, my Indie publishing company should have 4 or 5 anthologies out and the sky is the limit! There would be many other books, outside of the Michael Taylor series, in that time period as well.

If you could buy happiness; how much would you pay for it?

Nothing, I’m super happy for free right now. Lol. Relationships make me happy and I have that in a constant stream.

Dirty jokes. Got a favorite?

No, I’m such a prude, excuse my plugged ears. Lol. Also, I work with kids for 8 hours a day. No dirty jokes going around that break room. lol.

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

Visit my website at TiffanyChristinaLewis.Com where I have lots of media and videos! All my trailers are there which are such a blast to watch. 

Also, my publishing company RebellionLit.Com is where autographed copies of my books can be found. 

Kindle versions are available on AMAZON with Stitches and El Jefe available on Kindle Unlimited.

Thank you for answering my questions Tiffany. Much success!

Tiffany has been writing since her adolescence and was honored to have her work published for the first time in 2011. Since then her work has been featured in many books and online publications. From fiction to non-fiction, murder to relationships, Tiffany’s range as a writer is expansive. Crazy about killing, Tiffany’s favorite genre to write is Crime Fiction.