Meet Urban Author A.A. Lewis.
A.A.Lewis was born and raised on the Eastside of Buffalo, NY. She now lives with her husband and 2 sons in MIchigan. The 716 is the first in a trilogy and the first published literary work for A.A. Lewis.
Tanisha D Jones: Welcome to the Dangerously Seductive blog. Let’s get right into it, tell me about your current work.
A.A. Lewis: I just finished working on the second installment in The 716 trilogy, The 716 Back to Business. I’m currently working on a standalone book titled “A Walk Along the Path”.
It is business as usual for the ladies of The 716. After the loss of their best friend and sister Ayanna, things are slowly moving forward for these 3 best friends. Anika is loving her life with Aaron. With a baby on the way, nothing is going to stop her from having the life she always dreamed of. Aaron and Anika are planning to get married shortly after she gives birth. There is only one thing standing in their way, and let’s just say both Anika and Aaron will have to deal with their past before they can ever have a future together.
Things are heating up in The 716! Buffalo, NY has never been hotter as the lives of these characters take you back to the streets of the mid-1990s. Filled with drama, good music and memories of an era long gone, The 716 Back to Business delivers!
TDJ: Do you write more than one genre?
AAL: NO. Not because I wouldn’t want to, I just have so many stories floating around in my mind. I’m just trying to get them out one at a time and give voice to the characters. I’m sure when the time is right Ill venture into other genres.
TDJ: That’s a good. I tend to focus on whichever character is screaming loudest in my head. Sometimes I can put them on the back burner, but only after I do a quick outline. I have four or five right now. Do you find it harder to write in one genre over another?
AAL: No. I’ve always been creative. I just need to stay focused, do the research and stay committed to the process. But the biggest asset has always been my overactive imagination. It allows me to play in different genres and not be scared. Is there a genre you’re really interested in trying next?
TDJ: Why did you choose this particular genre? What inspired it? How do you write? Do you start and stop? Or write furiously until it’s done? Do you plot or are you a pantser?
What happens when you mix music, friendship and love? You get the 716. Anika, Monica, Ayanna and Yazz will take you on a journey of love, life lessons and friendship as they navigate the streets of Buffalo, New York. These young ladies share the consequences of wanting men that live dangerously and love hard. Set to a soundtrack of the early 90’s the lives of these four best friends take you down memory lane. Full of emotional twists, experience the love, pain and joy that these four ladies endure. The first book in the trilogy, The 716, Love and Consequences will leave you wanting more. Immerse yourself in the lives of the characters, as their stories set the tone for the fun and often deadly world of growing up in the inner city.
The 716 Love and Consequences will not disappoint. Get ready to take a trip back in time and allow these 4 ladies to remind you of what life was like growing up during the 90’s, and livin’ in the streets of Buffalo, NY.
AAL: With The 716 series being my first published books, it was a story that I’ve wanted to tell now for 20 years. I was so scared to just be free to write about something that could be so real. So the genre chose me. The series was inspired by the music I listened to growing up. It was the ‘90’s and hip hop and R&B were in full swing. It was so raw and diverse. The music always told a story. The beats and lyrics would grab hold of you and make you feel some kinda way. Every song had a memory attached to it. And out of all the music and the characters I had created in my mind, this series was born. My writing style depends on the story. For The 716 series the music guided me. I would listen to the song and if it felt like it belonged to a certain character and it moved me to tell that character's story, it was easy to write the chapters. I would just listen to the songs over and over again until I had a great storyline. It also made for one awesome playlist to jam too.
TDJ: Music inspires me as well. There are certain songs that I feel fit my characters or story arcs. I love the 90’s I was in my 20s then, but my daughter keeps my up to date, she’s into Korean pop and more pop and dance music. Some of that has seeped in and helped mold some of my characters. Do you find that in your writing? Or does the music simply evoke a mood?
AAL: I would have to say both. If I’m struggling with forming the identity of a character music can help mold some of the characteristics I maybe missing in that character. Music can also evoke a mood. The 716 series, I think most readers will be able to see both. The songs chosen give insight to the characters mood and also a look at either a strength or a flaw in their character. After writing the first 2 books in the series, I’ve also learned things about myself and how music has influence and matured me much like the characters in the book and their development from book to book.
TDJ: Do you have any strange writing habits?
AAL: Yes. I have to be wrapped up in my favorite blanket and I usually have some kind of sweet candy next to me to give me that extra buzz I need to continue writing for long periods of time.
TDJ: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad?
AAL: I do read my reviews. At first I was scared to look. I wasn’t sure I could take the rejection of people not getting the concept of the book. But After reading through them, I felt encouraged. I wanted to interact with them. It was cool to be able to address some of their concerns and answers questions. Even the bad reviews.
TDJ: I’ve always believed constructive criticism can make you a better writer. Sometimes they’re more helpful than the good reviews.
AAL: I agree. Sometimes we need to hear constructive criticism in order to grow and become better at our craft. Besides being a writer should require you to have thick skin. Not everything we write will resonate with everyone. Not everyone is open to hearing and seeing a point of view different then theirs, or are comfortable about our subject matter, so we as writers need to be ok with that.
TDJ: As an urban author, do you feel as if the genre is taken as seriously as other genres?
AAL: I do not feel like this genre gets the same respect as others do. Our themes are often the same found in other genres. I feel like mainstream publishers don’t think that our books marketable or have the same mass appeal as other genres or writers. If they would just give us a chance they would see we have just as much to offer if not more.
TDJ: I must admit, some of the titles have put me off on reading some of the books in the genre. But once I read a few, I found them to be really good. But I also have the same issue with paranormal fantasy . The concepts and titles can sometimes put people off. Not to mention the fact that I am one of the few paranormal authors with black characters. I think the mainstream wants us in a certain category but we aren’t all Toni Morrison or Alice Walker. That’s part of the reason I started this blog, not only to help promote new authors but to show the world that we can do everything and we can do it well.
AAL: I for one would like to thank you for all that you are doing to give writers like myself the platform to showcase our talents. Your support means a lot to me and I’m sure other authors too.
TDJ: Thank you. I think it’s important to support each other. There is room at the table for all us.
Do you find it easier to market your work? Why?
AAL: I found it easy to market my book. At first I wasn’t sure if my marketing strategy would work. I’m a true salesperson at heart, so I thought of all the things that I would like to see and how a good marketing campaign would catch my attention and that's what I did. So far the response has been great. I’ve been able to reach more individuals in more countries then I’d ever imagine. And they’re reading the book.
TDJ: I find marketing in person harder than social media. But being a self-published author there are so many avenues that it’s becoming easier if you just put in the work. Name 3 authors/books that impacted your writing.
AAL: Eric Jerome Dickey, Zane & The Coldest Winter Ever
TDJ: These were the first authors/books I read that made me appreciate urban storytelling. They are sexy, funny exciting and very relatable. .If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
AAL: Good question. I’ve thought about this alot lately too. To be honest I’m not sure about the lady characters, but the men characters I know who I could see playing them.I would like Que to be played by Kofi Sirboe. Jay would be played by Laz Alonso. Mario would be played by Kwame Boateng and Aaron would be played by Winston Duke.
TDJ: I love Winston Duke. I’m also impressed that Michael B. Jordan didn’t come up. He seems to be everyone’s go-to now. Not that that’s a bad thing, but there are so many great actors out there.
AAL: I am a huge fan of Michael B. Jordan as well. But their are so many good actors out there it is hard to sometimes chose just one. I chose these actors because I thought they would portray the characters with integrity and give them life. But ideally I would like an even lesser known actor to play these roles. I think it would be awesome to have an actor be know first for playing a character I created.
TDJ: What are you working on now? What is your next project?
AAL: I currently working on “A Walk Along the Path.”
TDJ: Is it a part of your current series?
AAL: No. This is a stand alone book. In fact I guess it’s me venturing out into another genre. This book is a fiction thriller set in Kalamazoo, MI. It is completely different than any thing I’ve ever written. Earlier we spoke about the characters in our minds, well these characters came out of nowhere. Their story was so strong and intense I decided I had to write it. I’m hoping that readers will enjoy this new genre and see the diversity in my writing.
TDJ: Last Question: Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
AAL: As a well rounded Author, screenplay writer or just doing something creative. Using my God given talent to make people smile, laugh cry and think.
TDJ: Isn’t that what we all want? I mean other than being rich and famous of course. LOL. Thanks so much for talking with me today. I look forward to see what you come up with next.
AAL: Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your blog.
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