Sunday, August 17, 2008

Interview with Author, Sherri Lewis

Today I welcome Essence Bestselling author Sherri Lewis to Urban Christian Fiction. I have the pleasure of knowing Sherri personally as I slid into the seat she vacated this year as president of our local writer's group. Sherri's also the one person who wouldn't let me give up on writing my novel, Issues of the Heart. I can't say it would be finished if it wasn't for Sherri saying, I think you should go back to that story and then she read the entire thing in a weekend and gave me feedback. Without a doubt, she's the most faithful writer-friend on the planet.

Welcome Sherri! (Cyber hug, girl.)Tell us about Dance Into Destiny. Dance Into Destiny is a coming of age, journey story of two young women and their quest for purpose and destiny. Keeva Banks is a black Atlanta princess whose life looks perfect from the outside. She’s the daughter of a Senator, has the luxury car, designer wardrobe, a gorgeous boyfriend in law school – everything a girl could want. But on the inside, she’s empty. She’s miserably depressed and often wonders why she’s even alive and has no sense of purpose or destiny. Shara Banks has that sense of purpose through her intimate relationship with God, but has no balance in her life. She’s a purpose driven church mouse. The two women meet and form an unlikely friendship that leads them on a journey of purpose, destiny, and intimacy with God.

Is there a personal story behind this book? The two women in the book are me and my two best friends and our experiences with the same struggles in our lives. Of course, it’s fiction, and so loosely based, but it’s the same heart dilemma of who I am and why am I here and why am I so unfulfilled.

You’ve made the Essence Bestseller List for both your novels. Then you finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer Book of the Year Contest. What an exciting debut. Tell us about. This has been so exciting! I feel like, of all the things I wanted to do, I sorta stumbled into this writer thing. It really wasn’t on my list of aspirations. I always like to write but never really imagined I’d write novels. It was difficult at first, because it took so long to get a deal, but God has blessed it tremendously.

My Soul Cries Out is a powerful story and clearly as a nominee for Book of the Year others agreed. Tell us a little about it. I always tell people that writing is therapy for me. Because of what was going on in my life, I wanted to write a story about a Christian woman going through a divorce and needed to create a situation dire enough that she and her husband wouldn't get back together. So i decided to have him cheat with a man. I also have had several friends and an awesome Pastor who had been molested in the church in their youth and therefore struggled with their sexual identity. My pastor laid an awesome foundation in me in worship, intercession, and the prophetic but because of his past, he ended up dying prematurely. It broke my heart that others in the body of Christ didn't get to experience his gifts because of what happened to him. It seems as if noone in the church has a solution for those struggling with the sexual identity, so I wanted to tell their story as well.

Your fans are itching for a sequel to My Soul Cries Out. Will they see these characters again? Absolutely! I am finishing the end to the sequel now. I had NEVER intended to write a sequel but everyone kept asking for one, so me and some sistahwriterfriends (including the awesome Rhonda McKnight) sat down for a plotting meeting and 2 weeks later, I had the first draft completed. It flowed easy! Not sure when it will hit the shelves yet, so keep an eye on my website,

Tell us about your publishing experience? My journey was one of those “all things work together for good” situations. It took me four years to get a publishing deal. Four years of rejection and discouragement. When I was ready to give up and had actually told God and my sistahwriterfriends that I was through, God showed up and I got my deal with Urban Christian. In retrospect, I realize it was God’s perfect timing because when I first starting submitting my manuscripts, I was going through a bad divorce and was dead broke, so in no position to promote my books like I’ve been able. God knew what was best and made me wait until my life was so much better.

What would you like your readers to take away from Dance into Destiny ? I really want people to understand the importance of purpose and destiny. Life isn’t complete if you’re not doing what God CREATED you to do. In fact, it’s pretty miserable. A life of destiny is the most exciting adventure imaginable. I want people to press into God to figure out who they are and why they’re here and then chase after it with all their heart!

Tell us about your community service work. I work as a physician in a women’s prison as my day job. On one of my patient visits, one of my inmates mentioned that she had been locked up for eleven years and had read everything of interest in the chaplain’s library and regular library. I thought how awful it would be not to have access to books. Out of the was born a prison book drive ministry that’s been awesome, myself and my local and international writer’s groups have supplied tons of new books for the prison. Circulation has more than doubled and inmates are reading. I could tell hundreds of stories of how their lives have been changed. My favorite story is of one of my sweetest patients who happened to be illiterate. She persuaded her roommates to read both of my books to her. She really enjoyed them and wanted to learn to read. I made a deal with her that when my new book, The List, comes out in March, she’ll be able to read it herself.

What advice do you have for a debut author? STUDY THE CRAFT. It’s so important to be excellent. Studying the “writing rules” and learning the craft will make you a better writer. Link with other writers. My relationships with my sistahwriterfriends, the ACFW-VIP chapter are invaluable. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without them. Go to conferences. Be willing to do whatever it takes if you really feel like God has called you to write.

I asked Sherri to get personal and she shared these answers with me:

Favorite color: purple

Favorite worship song: Too many to narrow it down. I love Israel Houghton, Fred Hammond, and Joann Rosario.

Favorite scripture: Too many to narrow it down. I love Isaiah and Daniel, the book of Ephesians, and of course the psalms

Beach or Mountains: The beach every day of the week! Can’t wait to get to Destin!

If you could spend one hour with someone living or deceased who would it be and why? Jesus, of course. I mean, it’s cool to spend time with Him in the Spirit and in prayer, but face to face would be amazing. Who am I fooling though? His presence would be so awesome and overwhelming, I’d drop as though dead like John did. So to be safe, probably one of the healing revivalists of old like Smiths Wigglesworth or John G. Lake or Kathryn Kuhlman or Aimee Semple McPherson. These people walked in awesome miracles and I’d like to hear their experiences first hand.

If you were going to a deserted island and could only take one fiction book with you, what would it be? And why? The Shack. It was one of the most awesome books I’ve ever read. It has the potential to expand one’s understanding of God and therefore increase one’s intimacy with God. That’s my life’s quest.

What’s next for Sherri Lewis? I’m excited about my March 2009 release, The List. It’s about single, successful, saved but sexy women looking for their soulmate. It’s lighthearted and comical, but deals with a great burden many successful black women are facing. I’m about to start ministry school. I’ve already been ordained but I want to take it higher. I’ve also started singing again and can’t wait to start writing new worship songs. I’m praying about what book is next. I have three ideas fighting to be chosen, so we’ll see which one wins.

How can readers get in contact with you?,
Thanks so much for stopping by Sherri. We look forward to more heaven sent success for you!


Patricia W. said...

Hey Rhonda! Google Reader still doesn't get the feed but I am receiving the newsletters.

I love when I meet people because then I "hear" interviews like this one in their actual voices. You and Sherri jumped off the page. It was great to meet you both in Destin.

upwords said...

Nice piece on Sherri. How was the Faith and Fiction retreat? I see you met Ms. Patricia. :)