Tom Lewis, entertainment attorney by day and author by night, has published two stunning and otherworldly young adult novels. He’s known for his startlingly realistic characters and fast-paced plots.
With 47 film credits to his name, it’s safe to say that this Santa Monica based author is keeping busy. He’s drafted movie contracts for Life Like and The Coven (set to come out soon!). He has even has directed and produced a few as well!
Aftermath, Lewis’s first book, stars sixteen-year-old Paige O-Connor as she desperately tries to survive in an every-changing landscape following an alien apocalypse.
Hell: The Possession and Exorcism of Cassie Stevens takes a rather dark turn on the typical teenage horror. Cassie “dies” during a car crash, only to be revived twenty minutes later…however she quickly realized that she didn’t come back alone.
I’ve had the pleasure to read and review both of his books and wow – talk about a delight! I had so much fun delving into Tom Lewis’s worlds that I just had to ask him for an interview! So, without further ado, here’s Seven Questions on a Saturday with Tom Lewis!
1) What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
Hi Miranda! First of all, thanks so much for all of the support you’ve giving me with my writing, and for just being an all-round awesome person! As for a typical day of writing, it usually starts crazy-early in the morning when I get home from the gym. And by early, I mean around 6’ish (or earlier for days when I’m completely insane). I like to get started before the sun comes up when the world outside still feels calm. Overcast days are great too. Once the sun is up and the rest of Los Angeles is awake, there’s too much energy going on around me to be able to lose myself in the story. For me that’s what writing is—it’s jotting down a story that’s playing in your imagination.
2) Hell: The Possession and Exorcism of Cassie Stevens, focuses heavily on Cassie’s relationship with an otherworldy being and her eventual fall into darkness. What was your favorite scene in the book? Where there any aspects that were difficult to write?
My favorite scene was the one where (spoiler) Fr. Sean has the dream where he encounters his deceased girlfriend on the shore where they had their first date years before he entered the priesthood. He’s been plagued with a crisis of faith and self-doubt and during this reunion she reminds him of who he once was, and by the end of it he’s reinvigorated. She lets him know that everything’s going to be ok. It was just this beautiful little scene in the middle of this dark creepy story that I kept coming back to whenever I needed to reconnect myself with how haunting and emotional this book could be. The entire Exorcism scene was the most difficult to write because there were so many elements involved in plotting it out. I didn’t want it to feel familiar or cliché to readers, and I wanted to give them more than what they’ve seen in other stories.
3) Aftermath, your first book, also follows a teenage girl (Paige O’Connor) as she struggles for survival as humanity succumbs to a hostile alien race. What was the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
That’s a really good question. I think the biggest challenges were imagining how a girl would react in a situation (the surface level), and more importantly ‘what’ she was thinking at the time, and ‘why’ she was thinking that. There’s obviously societal expectations and norms, but I wanted to dig deeper and explore as much of the ‘why’ we react act a certain way as the ‘how’ we react. Paige was such a fun character to write because she was so subversive. She didn’t want to conform, and the reason was, by not conforming she never had to face failure or rejection or pain. So on the surface you see this badass girl who dresses like a rebel and lives by her own rules, but on the inside she really craves closeness to people. She wants to be wanted, but to do so means she needs to make herself vulnerable and she’s not prepared to expose herself like that. This is why my favorite scene in Aftermath was the scene with Drew and Paige where she finally allowed herself to be vulnerable, and it was in response to Drew opening up to her about his past. He made himself vulnerable, so she felt safe allowing herself to be vulnerable. It was extremely cathartic to her and a lot of fun to write. It’s this complexity that makes female characters so much fun to write and explore, and I’m surprised that more male authors aren’t making the effort to do it.
4) Could tell us a little about your first published book and the journey you took to get it published? How has that experience influenced your approach to writing Hell?
When I published Aftermath, I really had no idea what I was doing. I had just finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy and several other dystopian novels, and had a vague idea for a story that followed a girl through an alien apocalypse, so one day at the start of Christmas break I just started writing. Once I got into the story and got to know Paige I was hooked, and it’s at that point that writing becomes a joy. Publishing Aftermath was rather easy as well—Amazon has really democratized the process to the point where anyone can do it. I got lucky and it hit the top of the best-seller lists in dystopian and YA fiction during its first couple months, so that made marketing easy.
Hell was a lot easier to publish, and I definitely learned from the mistakes I had made during the launch of Aftermath. Hell also made several best-seller lists, and was the number one new-release in ‘ghost fiction’ for its first two months. After that I started advertising, and sales and reviews have been great. I’ve also had a lot of people sign up for a mailing list to keep updated about new releases. Amazon just picked it up to be featured as one of their Prime reading books, so that was a huge confidence boost!
5) Some authors write books one at a time while others have several literary projects going at any time. Which camp do you fall under?
I fall a little into both camps. I’m working primarily on a novel called “Necromancer” that takes place within the same overall “universe” as Hell, but is a standalone novel. As the name suggests, it’s about conjuring the dead. Another novel I’d like to work on after that is “Styx” – a Lovecraftian type novel about a girl who’s drawn to a remote coastal New England town by the ghost of her dead brother. It’s a town that only appears every hundred years, and where witchcraft once flourished. A sequel to Aftermath called “The Whisperers” is also in the works. Another gothic horror called “The Midnight Sun” about the origins of vampirism, and a dying girl who’s resurrected as a vampire by a childhood friend. Also, there’s a series of novellas called “The Salem Chronicles,” that’s sort of an ‘X-Files’ in college.
6) From my experience, authors always have secret little tidbits about their books that only they know about. Could you share with us something in your books that only you know?
Ok. Number one secret about Hell – the original idea had Cassie die at the end. But by the time I got to the end, I realized I had fallen too in love with her character and had to give her a happy ending.
For Aftermath, Paige’s brother died in the first draft, and it was a friend she ended up escaping the city with. I realized after finishing that draft that it was much more compelling if it was her brother that she had to save from the aliens, so I went back and changed it.
7) According to your Goodreads bio, there is a family of squirrels that live right outside of your balcony. How are they doing? Any drama going down in Squirrel Town?
Haha! Those guys are as annoying as ever. I made the mistake of feeding them way back when I moved into this place, and so they kept coming back.
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