Interview with Darren Lewis
Darren Lewis was born in Cardiff in 1975 and now lives with his wife and two children in Norfolk.
After twenty years in the print industry he has seen many books and magazines being produced around him, and although an avid reader of many genres, it wasn’t until his daughter Ellie, aged 6 at the time, asked for a story of her own that inspired him to put pen to paper.
“Ellie and I would like to make up bedtime stories, mainly about a kangaroo that travelled the world and have adventures. Then one day she quite calmly asked me for a book of her own!”
Bedtime stories and his daughter’s request would lead to the first book in the Seren trilogy, ‘Ellie and the Rabbits’ in which our young heroine meets a group of talking rabbits.
“My main goals were to induce a sense of wonder for my daughter, a sense of purpose and the importance of helping others.”
A short book of poems for children followed and the sequel ‘Ellie and the Dragon’ was released in August. The trilogy was completed and published in December 2013 with ‘Ellie and the Battle.’
“One of my proudest moments was completing ‘Ellie and the Battle’, reading it to my daughter and she understood the message I was trying to convey.”
Darren has been interviewed for local newspapers, The Bookie Monster, The Examiner, Bookgoodies and the wonderfully moustachioed Elias Zapple!
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1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? As long as I can remember and I tried several times to sit down and get it done by I didn’t have the focus, my job was very demanding and stressful. I know people say if you want to do it you’ll find the time but I always concentrate fully on what I’m doing and find distractions irritating even if I was employed in a job I didn’t care much for.
2) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I never make notes of good ideas it just doesn’t work for me. I used to, I would have an idea at some awful hour of the night and quickly make a note before going to sleep satisfied that I had possibly come up with the best idea in literature, of course in the morning I discovered my idea was appalling. After this had happened a few times I let my mind wander on the idea and details overnight and I’ve now found if it’s a good idea then I remember it.
3) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? How much better my writing improved day by day. I don’t consider myself a great writer by any standard at all but I recognised how my style was changing and evolving, it was an exciting realisation.
4) Where did you get ideas for your books? My daughter asked for her own book when she was six and she wanted rabbits to be in it. Originally I thought about her meeting a group of talking rabbits who had to retrieve some artefact to make the work keep spinning, sort of like Indiana Jones. Then I thought lets make these rabbits magical and responsible for this task as it becomes more personal and intense. The settings for the book are where I live in the country, I find wandering the trails of the woods and coast very inspiring and came up with the idea for the next book while drinking tea on a wet and windy beach.
5) Out of all the books you have written which is your favorite and why? Ellie and the Dragon is the second book in the trilogy. The first, Ellie and the Rabbits is primarily action based, how to get to A to B to C and have an adventure on the way. Ellie and the Dragon is more character based as she and this dragon build this quick friendship and trust and then will ride out on their adventure properly in book three.
6) What age group do you think best describes your reader? Why? 6-12. My daughter read the first book when she was six and thankfully understood it! But the trilogy has been read by school friends of hers and friends of our family that are older and the feedback was positive. Hopefully the younger ones will connect with the rabbits and the wonderful adventure and the older children will connect with the more personal story between Ellie and her dragon.
7) What do you think makes a good story? Believability, which may sound strange as I write about talking rabbits and dragons but if you can convince your audience that what you’re writing about is possible and fits in with the world around them that you’ve created then you have an essential ingredient for a good story.
8) Who are some of your favorite Authors? Raymond Feist, David Eddings, Peter F Hamilton, though my favourite to this day is Roald Dahl.
9) If you could pick one actor to play a character in your book in the movie version, who would it be? Though she’s a bit old now Chloe Grace Moretz is amazing, her portrayal in Hugo as an adventurous young girl would be great for Ellie.
10) What song best describes your book and Why? Journey of the Sorcerer, the theme tune to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as it starts off quite simply and then becomes more involved and complicated until building up to a grand crescendo. At least that’s how I hope the book reads!
11) Who are some of the people that influenced your love of writing? Roald Dahl just for writing some wonderful pieces of work, my favourite of his is Revolting Rhymes and reminds me that children are not to be written down to. Though not a book writer I love Joss Whedon’s work in portraying strong female characters with excellent dialogue that is funny, relevant and interesting, not an easy combination.
12) If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring Author, what would it be? There’s no such thing as bad writing.
13) What would you like to say to friends and family of writers (not just your own)? We can hate our own work, we can be convinced we’re the worst writers ever especially after a rejection letter; we’re probably quite an insecure bunch really so tell us to stop messing around and get on with it.
14) What projects do you have up and coming? I’m in the final stages of editing two books from Ellie’s next adventures set four years after The Seren Trilogy called The Baiulus Series. I know this will involve more than three books as the timeline runs from 32,000 BCE up to the present day with many intersecting story lines. Baiulus is latin for “bearer of a burden” and the first book is called Vengeance of Shadows.
15) Is there anything else you want to share with your readers? I just hope that my writing can be enjoyed by them, I love reading an author who can just take over my mind until the world around me doesn’t exist, I hope that I can do that.
“Listen to me, Malachite. We know nothing of the human world now. If we try and start a war with them we will be defeated on the first day!” Corvus repeated to the green dragon who had now calmed down and had joined them all. The others nodded in agreement. Malachite lifted a leg and pointed with a long claw at the young girl and red dragon. “There’s your knowledge. Their minds will tell us part of what we need.” His eyes gleamed viciously. Corvus sighed and lowered his head. It was possible but painful. If Corvus read the minds of either the girl or dragon they would be left empty, no memories, nothing. He looked over his shoulder at them. They were both so young. But what choice did he have? This was about survival. He refused to believe it was revenge. Corvus looked up and just as he was about to order the prisoners over he heard the shuffling of feet down by his paws. He looked down, straight into the eyes of a rabbit. How odd, he thought. Well, I am hungry. Corvus bent his head down until his snout was close to the rabbit’s nose. Still the small creature seemed unafraid. The dragon shrugged and started to open his mouth to feed when the rabbit spoke.
“Hello. I’m Fortisan. How are you?”