Today I get to chat with my friend L.V. Lewis about one of my favorite reads of 2012, 50 Shades of Jungle Fever!
Welcome L.V.! Before we get into the details of your book, let’s talk a little about you.
Name your guilty pleasure?
Cheesecake. It’s my favorite dessert, bar-none.
Yummy! If you ever visit NY, you have to try Juniors!
What books have most influenced your life most?
“A Lesson Before Dying” by Earnest J. Gaines, “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Coming of Age in Mississippi” by Anne Moody, anything by Walter Moseley, anything by Toni Morrison. There are others, but I’ll stop with my short list.
That’s a serious list. What inspired you to become a writer?
My inspiration to write came from that desire in myself to create. I’ve always loved the written word and admired those who could create a work of art from their imagination. I have always had that innate desire to be just such a person, so when I learned that the opportunity to self-publish had become more attainable, I decided to go for it.
Is there anyone else besides you in your family who writes?
Not that I’m aware of. I have family members who’ve expressed an interest, but they’ve yet to act on that interest.
A little background into your writing: when did you start?
I’ve written stories, poetry, prose since I was a teenager. However, I didn’t get serious about writing a novel for publication until about six years ago. I joined a couple of writer’s workshops and began to hone my craft seriously in 2008.
Do you remember your first piece?
My first ever published piece was a romance short story I wrote for a teen magazine for which I was paid $75. At sixteen that was enough money to buy a few albums, some books, go to a couple movies.
That is super cool! I bet that came with bragging rights! lol
Now let’s talk about your latest release.
Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever is a novel which is part parody and part pastiche with a nod, of course, to Fifty Shades of Grey. It is the story of Keisha Beale, a post-college biracial woman who meets with Venture Capitalist, Tristan White, in hopes to secure startup capital for her dream company, Kente Studio Records. A botched attempt at securing the funding required from Tristan White leaves her without many options… until Tristan White makes an indecent proposal. As Keisha navigates the treacherous environment of the billionaire’s secret kinky lifestyle, she discovers surprising things about herself and unleashes demons from her past she thought were long resolved.
I have to tell you how much I adored this story. Share with us a quote from one of your favorite characters.
My favorite quote from my favorite character is when Tristan tells Keisha,
“Always be secure in who you are. Never give anyone that kind of power, and you’ll do well in the business world.”
Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
I think my easiest character to write was Tristan White, because he came to me fully formed and I knew exactly who he was going to be. Keisha was harder to write because I had to put so much thought into who she was going to be. I knew I would need to strike a precarious balance for her because I didn’t want to offend readers by making her too much of a caricature.
Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in ‘your book’?
I love the scene when Tristan goes to see her in the middle of the night after returning from a checking out an investment with his brother. Keisha has gotten cold feet again regarding the “arrangement” they made and he can’t wait until the next day to confront her about it. It is a hilarious scene that involves his brother Nate and her roommate providing some unintended comic relief.
Oh yes! That was one of my favorites 😉 If ‘your book (s)’ had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Stevie Wonder’s “Jungle Fever,” of course, for obvious reasons. LOL
Yes! No other song would do!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’d probably re-think the title and series name. I think the book might have been much more successful in reaching my target audience if the name didn’t offend some people right out of the gate. We as a people can laugh at ourselves, but we don’t like airing dirty laundry. When I used the words,
“jungle fever” and “ghetto” it turns some readers completely off because they feel like we’ve all risen above those terms.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that it’s difficult to promote and erotic romance because many promotional sites won’t touch them with a ten foot pole. I’ve learned that some people will judge your book based on its subject matter, its title, or an offensive word, and won’t give it a chance. I’ve learned that writing a book is one thing, but promoting it is more than a notion. I was told by an author friend that “like it or not, The Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy is now your brand, so roll with it.” (She knows who she is and I appreciate that more than anything.) And finally, I’ve also learned that paying it forward is something that isn’t always reciprocated, nor does it come easy all the time. But I’m not jaded by any of these experiences. I’ll keep being who I am and doing what I do, because at the end of the day, I have to be able to look myself in the mirror and lie down at night knowing I’ve been genuine with my readers, other authors, and the publishing community at large.
What’s up next for you?
Exit Strategy, book 2 of the quadrilogy of course. Between book two and the last two of the series, I’ll likely publish a novella-sized book, but haven’t decided whether it will be as L.V. Lewis or not. Then of course the final two books of the Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy.
Could you give us a few words to people who haven’t yet read your book.
Give the book a chance. Nothing chafes me more than to have these “reviewers” who claim it’s either “too ghetto” or “there’s too much ebonics” or “it’s not a great example of an IR/MC romance.” I challenge those who couldn’t get past chapter one to read seven chapters and then put it down. Admittedly the early chapters in the book parody 50 Shades a bit more, but as the story progresses, Keisha and Tristan’s story emerges more and more.
If you are determined not to like it, dislike it for more substantive reasons than those you perceive just because of its title.
Well said. I can admit that the name did make me look twice, but I liked your platform and wanted to support you because your personality led to believe that your book would have a lot to offer. I know that may not always work with every author, but I’m glad I did because the book is awesome.
Thanks for stopping by L.V. I can’t wait for Exit Strategy!!
You can find out more about L.V. Lewis at the following:
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fifty-shades-of-jungle-fever-l-v-lewis/1113713451?ean=2940016251004
Other sites: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Fifty-Shades-of-Jungle-Fever/book-Xu3YUry0M0u1k5x25PI86Q/page1.html?s=T4GtA6G5OUyj59DzI-djlg&r=1