Bio: Carey Lewis traded a mundane job in Toronto, Canada, in favor of a backpacker life of nomadic travel. He can be spotted with his beautiful fiance somewhere in Southeast Asia, drinking coffee and scribbling furiously into a notepad while cursing his credit card debt and writing about bad guys that are cooler than he'll ever be.
Genre you write: Mystery/ Suspense/ Thriller as well as dystopian/ apocalyptic
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone wanting to write? (Jenny) This is probably going to go contrary to most advice a writer will get, but my advice to anyone just starting out is to find an author you dig, and copy their style. Now hear me out…
Listen to the other advice which will be read everything you can and write always. That should be a given. What you don’t hear is that one of the most important aspects of writing is the author’s voice, and in most advice or how-to’s about writing, this is ignored. They’ll tell you about grammar, formatting, story structure and blah blah blah. It can be useful I suppose but I don’t think it’s as important as it’s led you to believe.
Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Neil Gaiman, Elmore Leonard, Agatha Christie, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Ed McBain, Dennis Lehane, Harlan Coben. They all have their own voice, their own sound that you recognize right away. That’s why you love those authors. You love the way they tell you a story.
Copy the style of those you love to start with. Of course, to find out what you love, you have to read a lot. Through osmosis, those voices will go through you and because it’s you, you’ll put your own voice in there. From that point, you have started to develop your own sound and style and you’ll start telling stories in your own voice.
Also, try not to write the parts readers tend to skip.
How do you approach your stories; do you plan everything out before starting, or are you more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of a person? (Steve) I’m a ‘pantser,’ so I make it up as I go along. I have ideas before I start, some characters, a little of what they’re doing, and then I let them do their thing. I had one character that wasn’t talking, so they got killed. There was another character I didn’t think would do anything, but I couldn’t shut him up! He ended up being one of my favorite characters in Warriors. To me, writing this way, it comes as much a surprise to me as it does the reader.
Of all your characters, do you have a favorite? (Luke)
How long did it take you to write your most recent book(s)? (Joy) It takes me about a month, and that includes research and two rounds of edits on the manuscript. Then I’ll put it away for a couple of weeks and give it another couple of edits with fresh eyes.
I tend to research while I go. I don’t know how writers wrote anything before Google! Even though I’m of the age where I used to have to go to the library and thumb through pages myself, I can’t imagine doing that now whenever I needed to know what a street looked like or what the laws are regarding a thing in a certain country or state. Can you imagine?
The last book I outlined was Generation Z, which deals with the current race relation problems we’re facing using Zombies as the metaphor. That took a little more research as I had to look up science stuff to make my diseases believable (because Science!). I ended up using the Ebola outbreak for the catalyst of my plague.
I researched the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luthor King, Malcolm X, Jim Crow Laws, the Black Panthers etc. I also researched the other side of those things, such as the perception to them, the cause and effect and such. I enjoy that kind of research, but it took awhile as I wanted it to be right. It was worth it because it became the plot of the entire book. The fact that Generation Z is a modern story that’s very relevant today but taken from events that happened 50+ years ago is something to think about.
That was a lot more research and it took a week or two, so that book, which turned into two, took about a month and a half to two months to write.
What motivated you to write your novel? (Ami) Got to do something with your day right? hahaha
I’m always asking myself a question that will drive you insane in real life but seems to serve writing well. That question is ‘what if?’ You’ll go insane asking yourself that question about your life – what if I paid more attention to the girl that left, what if I waited five minutes, what if I said or did this… it goes on and on and there aren’t any answers. But in writing it’s an incredibly useful tool.
I’m currently writing a story about a couple that host a reality TV show about haunted houses. It started with, ‘what if they staged the houses to be haunted?’ then went to ‘what if they staged the houses so they could buy them cheap and flip them?’ then it went to, ‘what if they were divorced and still had to host the show and got caught up in the world of marijuana trafficking?’ you know, because that’s a natural progression ;)
Name three favorite authors and why they impress you. (Kay)
Would you rather set your story in a place and time you are familiar with, or would you rather research a totally different setting? (Ruth)
Do you have any little writing rituals or quirks? E.g. an object you have to have on your
How do you own experiences influence what you write? (Bill)
Your experiences make you who you are and shape how you see the world. From my experiences, I tend to find the humor in most situations. Laughter is amazing. I’ve developed a sharp tongue and sarcastic wit, so those things tend to find its way into the work.
In the mystery/suspense/thriller genres, everyone is so damn serious all the time. They’re some of the most focused people you’ll ever come across. Those aren’t people want to hang out with! I don’t think that’s reflective of life, so my characters tend to have a sense of humor and sarcastic wit to them. That’s not to say what I write is light hearted, but there are moments of humor.
Don’t take life so serious or you’ll never get out alive.
If you were a ninja with a vendetta to whom would it be? OR If you had to throw something into mount Doom to save the world, what would it be? OR If you had a group of celebrities to plan the perfect heist who would they be and what would you be after? (Aaron) (Sorry, I left all three of Aaron’s in because they were hard! Pick one or all.)
How do you deal with writer's block? (Marissa)
The idea of writer’s block has taken on its own mythos, hasn’t it? It’s at the point where it means something different to everyone.
I write. It’s normally a case of just getting that ball rolling from a standstill. Once that first line is down, that ball is rolling, and once there’s momentum it moves on its own.
Oftentimes, it’s not writer’s block, it’s just a matter of figuring out what the characters are going to do, and what they’re going to do NEXT. That’s the part that trips people up I think. It’s going from A to C and figuring out what B is all about. While I’m figuring that out, I’ll read, or watch a movie. Sometimes you got to take a step back to see the forest for the trees or however that saying goes.
A new practice I’ve recently adopted is to reread the chapter I wrote previously before I start my writing session. It helps get the ball rolling.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? (i.e. first draft, editing, etc...) (Greg) My favorite part of writing would be the first draft stage. I’m a ‘pantser’ which means I make up most of it as I go along. This way I get to feel how the reader does while they’re reading, because we’re both discovering the book for the first time. There’s been more than a few times when I swore at my laptop because I couldn’t believe what just happened. There’s no better feeling in the world when something is being created, and you’re in that zone, and everything is just clicking. Then you look back at the scene you wrote and everything just works. It’s a high.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one book, what would it be? (Ominbuses, complete works, and how to books are forbidden!) (Laura)
I’m going to steal Dwight Shrute’s answer from The Office – “Physician's Desk Reference... hollowed out, inside-waterproof matches, iodine tablets, beet seeds, protein bars, NASA blanket and, in case I get bored, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. No, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Question, did my shoes come off in the plane crash?