Welcome, Tracey. Introduce yourself to my readers.
Hi readers! My name is Tracey Michae’l Lewis. I am an author, entrepreneur, consultant, educator, speaker, wife, daughter, sister, soror, cousin, and friend. I say all of that to say that I carry many titles but at the core of who I am lays a scribe: a writer for the
Tell us about your latest novel.
I’m so excited about this one! Interruption: The Gospel According to Crystal Justine is the second book in my “Gospel” trilogy. The Gospel series itself explores the lives of three generations of women in one family and their struggles with their faith as it relates to issues of insecurity, fear, and low-self worth; issues that have manifested negatively in their relationships. The first book in the series was The Gospel According to Sasha Renee. Sasha is this super fly-girl from the South side of Chicago who tries to live on a borrowed faith. She’s okay with her mother and friends praying for her as long as she didn’t have to acknowledge the Holy Spirit for herself. And of course, she makes the worse choices because of that even in the midst of God sending her the most wonderful man (Langston). This book really is about redemption because the reader gets to watch the process of salvation play itself out.
In the new book, Interruption: The Gospel According to Crystal Justine (CJ), it is 25 years later and CJ is Sasha’s daughter. In spite of actually having a relationship with God, CJ finds herself repeating some of the same mistakes that her mother and grandmother made in their lives. It is in this book that the reader learns that the issues of the women in this family is not just the result of poor choices but of a demonic, spiritual attack that was set in motion several generations back to keep the women in this family from fulfilling their God-ordained destiny. CJ goes through her own share of relationship fumbles and ultimately has to figure out whether she will be the interruption in her family’s bloodline? Will she get free of the generational curses that have pursued her, her mother, her grandmother, and all of the other women in her family?
What is the main theme of the novel?
When I think of “theme,” I think about a thread that holds every piece of the story together. In that case, the theme of this book is deliverance. We hear the word said in church all the time but I’m not sure if we always know what that means or what “deliverance” looks like. By the end of this book, it is clear.
Interesting, share why you decided to deal with this particular topic? I think my writing not only inspires but causes reflection. These stories come to me out of my own struggles and the struggles of those that I’ve observed. No, I’m not Sasha or CJ nor is the book based on anyone that I know. However, the issues that come up in the book have touched me in some way or another. My main goal was not to just expose the issue of sexual abuse or low self-esteem or abuse but to show, through my characters, what the process of deliverance from the effects of those things looks like. If I just said “CJ did this” or “they did this to Sasha” then I’m preaching to my reader and I have certainly not been called to preach. But if I show you how, in spite of the bumps in the road, these women managed their journey and how their faith, eventual or otherwise, along with God’s grace helped them get free, then hopefully I can help readers examine their own lives and do the same.
I also know that many of us can find ourselves in these cycles where our families are dealing with the same issues generation after generation. Great-grandmom, grandmom, mom, daughter, grand-daughter, and great-granddaughter have all divorced or all have had children out of wedlock, or all were talented cooks but never pursued it as a career, etc. etc. This book helped me explore the concept of “generational curses” from a spiritual perspective which I’d never seen done before in Christian fiction.
What has been the reaction from readers?
It's funny because there is a degree of identification that I didn't expect. People see themselves in my protagonist. I’d like to think that I stretched myself when it came to developing this character but it seems as though I stretched myself right into the lives of so many women out there. (laughing) Which of course is not a bad thing at all. I've had readers say that they heard the Lord speak to them through the characters in this book. That they've gotten direction and peace from the book. Or that they now see their lives three dimensionally and understand that there is a spiritual realm and some of the things we deal with are a result of attacks at that level or, at the very least, our choices as a result of those attacks.
All of that is very good feedback. Still, when I hear this, I'm usually thinking, "Wow. It must be God." I mean, I'm just writing fiction, right? And yet the main response I still hear from readers is that the story seems so real. They identify with it.
Most people believe Christian Fiction needs to either be inspiring or have a message of redemption. Which would you say your novel has? I think my novel does both and more. You see, I don’t know if Christian Fiction as a genre needs to do any one of these things specifically. It only needs to accomplish what God has destined for it accomplish. I don’t mean to oversimplify it but I think we, as Christ Followers, think too much of ourselves sometimes. For one reader, the only purpose God may have for book is to entertain them, to give them rest from an otherwise hectic life. For another reader, it may be to inspire them, to give them those warm and fuzzies that they may not get anywhere else. For others, it could get deeper. It may motivate some readers to change their entire lives or to accept Christ. I don’t think we really know how God is going to use our work. That’s why I consider myself more than I writer. I am a scribe. I have to be careful that I’m hearing what the King (God) wants to say through these characters and write accordingly. Otherwise, I might get in the way. When that happens, no one is inspired, redeemed, or anything else.
Boy do I agree with you. I think my recent post on Kim Roby and the comments thereafter speak to this. Ministry comes in many forms and it's certainly not for any of us to say what is God's will for is people. Thank you for being so transparent on this point.
Share a little about your publishing journey? I’ve been writing for most of my life. I started with poetry and plays and then later moved to fiction, screenwriting, and nonfiction. In 2002, I decided to independently publish my own poetry. Although back then, I didn’t know what a “platform” was in the publishing sense, I did know that I was doing quite a bit on the spoken word circuit and was told that my work had a more literary feel to it. So I went to work on getting my poetry in print. The first collection was “Collapsed on the Wings of a Sigh” and following that, I published “Divine Nepotism,” “Write the Vision: A Collection of Essays,” and “No Greater Love.” In 2004, I began studying the craft of writing more and ultimately published the first edition of my first novel, “The Gospel According to Sasha Renee.” Since then, I’ve published articles in various magazines and newspapers including the
Now, after five long but educational years since my last novel, I’ve finally published the sequel, Interruption: The Gospel According to Crystal Justine, and have signed a book deal for another book (mentioned below).
How difficult was it to navigate the process of independent publishing? What if anything would you do differently, or suggest to others who would like to go the same route? Well, this is my sixth time around so I can honestly say that I’ve learned from many of the mistakes that I made the first few times around. Things like poor design and editing or trying to do book signings in
What's next for Tracey? Well, I’ve recently signed a book deal with Beacon Hill Press for a non-fiction book on Multicultural ministry so I’m currently wrapping that up. I’ve also begun working on another fiction work that takes my writing in an entirely new (and challenging) direction. Then it’s back to finish the Gospel trilogy with “The Gospel According to Vivian Grace” (that’s CJ’s grandmother and Sasha’s mother) And of course, I’m still blogging, writing articles, speaking, and running my business.
On another note...what I REALLY hope is next for Tracey is motherhood. Hubbie and I are still working on that, though.
Where can readers find you on the Internet? I’m all over the place. You can purchase books or catch me blogging at www.traceymlewis.com. I’m on facebook at facebook.com/tmlewis and Twitter at twitter.com/tmlewis. I also own a business and educational consulting firm (which also provides some business writing services to organizations) and that website is www.lewisconsultinggroup.com