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Rising Stars: Meet Erika Lewis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erika Lewis.

Hi Erika, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
It’s funny. I never thought I would ever have a career in writing. Reading wasn’t easy for me when I was young. I could read but words flipped places in sentences, I got very tired rereading, and then, most times, gave up. In high school, I forced myself to figure this out. Reading and reading. Making the muscles in my eyes stronger. I should’ve asked for help long before but it was embarrassing. My mother would always say, “She’s so in good in math and science.” And I was.

I studied Math at Vanderbilt University. I loved theoretical math classes. Topology of Surfaces comes to mind. Topology is geometry rendered flexible. Bendable math. All proofs. So much fun. Yes, I’m weird that way. But I loved television, and by college, I was an avid reader, so what came next? An unpaid internship at CNN.

I worked on Larry King Live and Crossfire as an intern and realized that my love for television did not include the cutthroat reality of working in news. But it was there that a producer at Headline News told me that I was a good writer, and that little bit of encouragement stuck with me.

I moved to Los Angeles and worked for fifteen years in television as a development and current executive. What is that, you ask? My mother never understood what I did either. Talented writers and producers would pitch shows to the studio or network I was working for and I, along with a team, would decide if they were the right fit for us. And then, most times, I also managed production, giving creative feedback as well as managing the money (see…I used the math part of my brain too.)

But then, one day after my daughter was born, I decided I wanted to tell my own stories. An avid daydreamer, I had loads scratched in notebooks. But I didn’t know how. So I went back to school. Classes, retreats, another degree. Four manuscripts in a drawer, and I sold my first graphic novel. THE 49TH KEY. Then my first novel. GAME OF SHADOWS to Tor Books. After that, I left full-time employment to write. Being a freelancer is hard. No one pays for your medical bills and rarely picks up the tab for travel. But for the past eight years, I’ve written two graphic novels for Legendary Entertainment (FIREBRAND and ACURSIAN,) my first Young Adult novel co-authored with R.A. Salvatore for Temple Hill, and my debut middle grade series begins March 1st, and I get to do that for two more books.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Nothing is ever a smooth road. The biggest struggles I had were mainly making sure I was making enough to support my family. Living in Los Angeles isn’t cheap. Have two brilliant kids, we were lucky to be in a great school district.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I write fantasy. Sometimes sprinkled with Sci-Fi. Generally, my work is for young adult or middle grade. I love writing for kids, inspiring them to read.

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
The support is easy. Buy my books. Ask me to come to your classroom if you’re a teacher. All authors love to meet with their target audience. To work with me, simply hit me up. On the collaboration front, I’m a very collaborative person on projects, but I don’t generally co-write these days.

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