An Interview with Carey Lewis

I asked zombie aficionado, Carey Lewis, to talk about himself, and he obliged.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
One of the defining moments was when I was in grade five and having a hard time adjusting to my new school and my parents divorce, even if I didn’t know it at the time. My school took me out for one class a couple times a week for a guidance session, where she told me to write. I ended up writing this story about a boy that had a pet alien he named ‘Frick’ that was always getting the boy in trouble.

I was too naïve at the time to realize it was a roundabout way of swearing. But I enjoyed doing it, and it was something I was proud of. I’m sure everyone got relief from those times because I was off in my own world, not causing trouble. I ended up looking forward to those times where I got to escape into something I was creating.

The definitive moment happened when I saw Pulp Fiction when I was sixteen. It was the moment in the film where Bruce Willis runs over Ving Rhames. Ving Rhames ends up shooting the woman helping Bruce Willis with his smashed nose. I couldn’t help but laugh for awhile at that, but I couldn’t understand why it was so funny. It was at that moment I realized what an effect a writer played.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure if I have a quirk that stands out as far as my writing process goes. I’m sure it’s pretty standard. But I think within my work, I have a certain voice, a style that a reader can pick up on. I like to have snappy dialogue with smart characters, or at least real characters. Put some humor in there because I don’t think everyone’s always serious. I think there’s humor in life so I try to have those moments. I like to say I write bad guys that are cooler than I’ll ever be.

I’ve been told my stuff reads like a movie, which is more than likely my filmmaking background making itself evident.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to bitch and moan about opinions on the Internet but never get involved in them like a crusty old man. I used to drink a lot, but I’m told that can’t lead anywhere healthy. No one buys my Hemingway excuse. Until I find a new hobby, I guess I’ll keep writing.

In one sentence, tell us all about the Generation Z series.
An excuse to write a story about race relations in today’s society.

In one sentence, tell us all about the Gutter Dogs series.
A fun, enjoyable ride with lowlifes at the wheel.

What inspired you to write these series?
Racial tensions have become more prevalent now I feel, than any other time I’ve been aware of while I’ve been on the planet. Since I’ve written Generation Z, I’ve only seen the divide grow. Looking back at Romero’s work, with Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, they weren’t just scary Zombie flicks, they actually said something. They were a mirror up to our culture designed to make us take a look at ourselves. Zombies have always been a great metaphor for our culture and society, whether it be consumerism, racism, vanity, or egotism. I wanted to go back to those roots, show what we’re going through currently in a different way. The way we’re communicating now just isn’t working. No one wants to listen. Everyone acknowledges that there’s a problem. That’s not the problem. Solving that problem and developing steps is where we’re tripping up. That’s where all the shades of gray lie that we’re having a hard time navigating through. We’re getting hung up arguing about who’s more wrong, thinking that makes one argument right, when that part doesn’t matter. What matters is what we’re going to do about it, how we go forward. We can all agree it’s bad and wrong. Let’s get past that part so we can figure out how to fix this.

I tried to write Generation Z to show that. I modeled the narrative after the Civil Rights Movement. Generation Z doesn’t offer solutions but presents the problem in a way that’s different than we’re seeing it. It presents both sides as faulty as they are, where each side is coming from, and what can happen from this kind of divide. I hope it makes the reader think about the “now what” part.

As for The Gutter Dogs Series, shit, that’s just fun!

Not to take anything away from The Gutter Dogs series. I still incorporate themes in there, but I do it in a subtle manner, and the things they deal with are on a more human level than a societal one. It’s not so dire and serious. I think they’re fun reads first and foremost.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Writing, research, and about two rounds or edits on the book takes me about a month. I’m still developing a system, so I’m currently trying to put the book away for a couple of weeks after having it all down with a couple rounds of edits, then go back to it with fresh eyes for another round of edits before I release it.

What have you learned about writing now that you have so many books out?
I feel like I’m still new to the game. I’ve only started writing seriously since the summer. The thing that took me for a spin when I first decided to self-publish is that writing is only part of the whole thing. With self-publishing, there’s marketing, promotion, release dates, graphic design, all these other things you have to wear a hat for. It’s something I’m taking a hard crash course in currently.

But as far as the writing side, the part I’m still learning is patience – not to put it out to the world right away. Take some time off, come back with fresh eyes, make sure it’s ready. People are only going to read what you wrote, not what you intended to write. That goes back to a lesson in filmmaking – no one will see what you didn’t shoot.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Again, I’m still new to this, so I’m not sure I have any readers yet! I’m hoping they can find my work and dig it. My mom seems to have taken a shine to it, so that’s got to count for something!

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in the Generation Z series? What about Gutter Dogs?

Not really, no. It hasn’t been that long, but even now, if I was to write them again, I’m sure they’d be quite different. That’s not to say I’d change any of it. In about ten years I might look back and think of the things I’d do differently, but I think anything I’ve written had to be written the way it was at the time. If you start thinking about changing the past you’ll end up like George Lucas fiddling with Star Wars three decades later. Han. Shot. First.

Tell us about future writing projects.
I tend to write fairly quickly. I just released Warriors. The next one I release will be Mr. Miracle which is about a guy who survived death twice and won the lottery three times. His ex-wife teams up with some crooks and track him down to Thailand where they’re hoping to get his money. That’s ready to go as soon as I can get a cover for it (damn graphic design I’m trying to learn!). I’m currently writing about a divorced couple that host a reality TV show about haunted houses but fake the houses being haunted so they can buy them for cheap and flip them for a profit. Of course they accidentally get involved in marijuana trafficking.

I’m also thinking about returning to the Zombie genre because it’s such a great platform to discuss the state of society. I have a comedic Zombie story I’ve had in my head for a year or two as well as a western. There’s a bunch of other ideas I have kicking around up there too.

Too many ideas, too few hours in a day!

carey-lewis

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.

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http://careylewis.com/
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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degree in Computer Systems and Applications and is currently attending Northern Arizona University. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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