BOOKTHINK: Is the book part of a trilogy?
LEWIS: I think this is very likely. I am already well advanced on the next book in the series, but I think it will take a 3rd book to deal with all the complexities of plot and characters. I'll probably leave it there though. I have a very strong idea for another book altogether - a true life, gritty children's crime novel, with some unique plot twists.
BOOKTHINK: Why did you choose to self-publish your book?
LEWIS: Self publishing seemed to be the obvious way for me to go from the outset. I had heard how difficult it was to try to find a publisher through conventional means and how cautious and conservative they were being these days. The difference between self-publishing and regular publishing is one of finance, and it seemed to me a simple choice to forego the normal "advance" in exchange for a greater share of the profits, more control over the process, more certainty over the outcome, and a timetable that suited me. So, I didn't bother to try to find a regular agent or publisher, bypassing this process completely. I looked on the Internet to find and evaluate the various self publishing companies. I thought from my research that Pen Press had the best track record and most professional approach. I also wanted to have as near to full service self-publishing as possible, and Pen Press seemed to have more expertise than the others did.
BOOKTHINK: What books have influenced your life most?
LEWIS: Probably text books, rather than fiction. I am very much interested in science and mathematics. Last year, for example, I studied the brain from a neuro-science perspective. It's absolutely fascinating to see how, mechanically, we perceive, think remember, etc. Fascinating and humbling.
BOOKTHINK: What book are you reading now?
LEWIS: As I write, I am between books. I finished Carmen Sqillante's "Flotsome is the stuff that floats" - a very interesting book. The next book on my pile is a Joanna Trollope - yes, even great authors indulge in a little light reading now and then!
BOOKTHINK: Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?
LEWIS: I really liked Henry Tumor by Anthony McGowan, and not just because of my interest in neuro science. I also liked Sharon Dogar's Waves.
BOOKTHINK: What are your current projects?
LEWIS: Writing-wise - I have almost finished the first draft of the book that will follow The Magic Lantern of Kimbustan. I don't have a title for this one yet, but it has certainly been interesting to write. It's longer, darker and set largely, although not exclusively, in Scotland, and based on some real life events that ended badly for all concerned, so writing a children's book around that is quite a challenge.
BOOKTHINK: Does travelling help with writing your books?
LEWIS: I love travelling anyway, and over the years I have been to very many places. As it happens, the two principal locations for The Magic Lantern of Kimbustan - Scotland and India - I picked because I find them romantic, mysterious places where almost anything can happen, and frequently does.
BOOKTHINK: I noticed that your book will be supporting SOS Children in India.
LEWIS: Yes it will. The India/charity connection came out of a trip I made to India myself about 25 years ago. We went round all the palaces, learnt something of Indian history, etc. That was where the ideas for the "India" parts of the book came from, but I was also struck by the enormous poverty and the number of homeless children living in the streets. When I came back, I found a charity that helps them - SOS Children - and I've supported them ever since. It seemed natural to me when I came to publish it to use the book to promote and aid SOS Children.
BOOKTHINK: What a good idea and such a worthwhile cause.
LEWIS: Yes, it feels good to be able to help a charity which is close to my heart.
BOOKTHINK: Who designed the covers?
LEWIS: The cover and all the art inside the book was designed and drawn by Alexa Garside from Pen Press - a really talented artist. As the book was self-published, I was able to work closely with Alexa in developing the ideas behind the art illustrations, and I think they have come out very well.
BOOKTHINK: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
LEWIS: The hardest part for me was finding the time to write - with everything else going on in my life, there isn't much spare capacity. Luckily, I don't seem to suffer from writers block. I also have a "draft" mentality - I don't concentrate on getting the words exactly right the first time, so I think of each chapter as a draft to be continually revised and improved. Perhaps the hardest thing, looking back, was deciding when the process should come to an end. I think you can go over your own wording and phraseology again and again - and in the end, although some words and phrases are uniquely important in a book, overall it actually matters less than you think.
BOOKTHINK: Do you have any advice for other writers?
LEWIS: Keep going, keep trying, keep pushing, keep your spirits up ... keep writing!
BOOKTHINK: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
LEWIS: Yes, check out the website. We have a fantastic competition and everyone is welcome to enter. A few days later a package arrived with the words:
NOTHING IN INDIA IS AS IT SEEMS
Inside was a small casket filled with sand. As I tipped out the sand, a small bag of chocolate coins tumbled out and a gold card which said, "The sands of time will reveal the greatest of treasures ..."
"Best Wishes from Julian H. Lewis"
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