Tiffany C. Lewis is a fantastic author with a wide range of skills, but her favorite genre to write is crime fiction. She was kind enough to sit with me and discuss her constantly evolving writing journey and her passion for learning!
JM: What do you find most appealing about crime fiction?
TL: Honestly, I have always been teased about liking crime. My family always thought it was weird that I like true crime shows and documentaries that displayed violence and were often scary. Over time, the genre became popular on TV and I was vindicated. It started with serial killers. Before deciding to become a preschool teacher and daycare director as my educated profession, I wanted to study psychology and I still love learning about the human mind. Learning about serial killers' methods, patterns and victimology was incredibly fascinating to me and it propelled me into crime fiction which I absolutely loved. When it was time to start really writing, it was a natural choice. I had hours of true crime shows and crime fiction books (Tess Gerritsen and Walter Mosley) in my head and it was then my turn to write the ideas out. Crime fiction also gave me a chance to explore the criminal mind as I loved to do with my shows. With mysteries and some thrillers, the killer or criminal isn't revealed until the end, but in crime fiction you are free to explore and even follow the killer which is what I like.
JM: Your range as a writer is very wide – includes fiction and non-fiction. You do crime stories, discuss relationships, write poetry. Is there any area of writing you’ve not yet explored that you’d like to, or a genre you’ve entered into recently?
TL: I just completed a short story collection of entirely brand new material and it has 8 stories ranging from sci-fi to romance and of course, crime fiction which is my main area of knowledge. This collection, planned to release in April 2021, is my loud statement that women are amazing. Every story has a female main character and they are close to my heart. Regarding the genres, sci-fi, romance, and horror were the ones I didn't think I "could" write. Sci-fi was new to me, even as a reader, romance, I found unrealistic and over-emotional and horror, although one of my favorite genres, I had placed on a pedestal so high that I didn't believe I could reach it. As I got the idea for this collection, I knew I had a large canvas. Again, all the stories were new and original, I had no short stories from past writing to include. The only parameter that I had to stay inside of was that the main character was a woman. This allowed so much room to explore my imagination and practice writing in each genre. I did research on tropes, read books in every genre, and really tried to break out. Now, I won't say there isn't a little crime in each story, but they all hold true to their genre, by as much as I know.
The only genre I haven't written yet is fantasy and I am planning to hopefully partner with one of my good friends who is an author and cartographer to co-author a novel with me - fantasy with a splash of crime fiction, of course.
JM: Was there one author whose work inspired you to pursue a writing career? Did it start as a hobby, or was it something you knew you always wanted to do?
TL: Writing was definitely a hobby for me at first. I never wanted to study it in college or take classes. I just enjoyed getting the stories out of my head, but before I published my first book, my thoughts changed and I knew I wanted to write as a career. Even with that knowledge, I stopped writing to pursue an instant gratification career. I became a teacher! I love working with kiddos and I took many years away from writing to finish my degrees and advancing in my education career. Then I remembered my first love and that was writing. I realized I'd waited too long to get my second book released, so long in fact that my original publisher didn't think I was planning to publish again! I decided then that I wouldn't stop writing and I guess the time was right because since then I've started a publishing company to manage my work, as well as others, completed 9 manuscripts, and started editing my works for publication.
TL: Yes, I have the series mapped out. I am writing every book to a conclusion although it will be a series. I don't have a problem with cliff hangers but some people do and I don't want to upset them, so every book ends with "an ending". No crime goes unsolved, so to speak, but there are many events in Michael and his associates' lives that lend more to the story, and the series, as a whole, goes on for a while longer.
TL: The plan is currently six books and after book six I'm planning to close it out; however, with the way I write the stories, there could always be another. The conclusion to most detective driven stories, I believe, can always bring more stories because there are always more cases, if that makes sense! Detectives work hundreds of cases in their careers so if books are driven by them, which the Michael Taylor Series is, then it could go on and on. The real trick, which I may have to play, is a spin-off, but that is not currently in the works. Some fans have asked me to spin off a particular character but I haven't decided yes or no on that.
JM: The trailers for your books are phenomenal! Should readers look forward to movies? Is that something you intended when you wrote the series, or something you’d like to see happen?
TL: I actually see Michael's books as TV shows more likely. I started plotting the episodes out based on the events in the books, as a bit of a far off fantasy! I'm highly inspired by Law and Order - Criminal Intent and I love that feeling. I did try to get that feeling in the books. The fast pace, the witty detectives, the interview style. The good thing about TV shows, compared to film, is that a writer (myself or another) could really use the book as the material because there is more time. A season with as few as seven 30-minute episodes is still over three hours of time for actual material from the book compared to an hour and a half, two-hour movie.
JM: Where did the idea for the Michael Taylor character and series come from? What was the inspiration behind it?
TL: Inside Out came to me as a daydream, driving to work one day. As I now know to be my normal mental habit when it comes to book ideas, the story just came out of the sky. The whole thing. Beginning to end. Back in 2013 when I started writing it, I wasn’t a big plotter, but the story was all there and I was able to write it in a month. The main character, Michael Taylor, is a detective with the Oakland Police Department which is in my hometown. This book is highly rooted in my upbringing. Even seeing African-American cops as a normal part of the force and understanding diversity, all came from living in a culturally diverse city. The characters in this book also represented what I wanted to see in my culture. Strong, smart, and determined, goal-oriented humans. Growing up in a rough neighborhood showed me all sides of humanity and I want my books to represent that. Over time, the characters and their world were constantly with me and I was always thinking about them, so the series developed from just the idea of the first book and continued on.
Tiffany was a fabulous person to get to know and I'm looking forward to doing a follow-up interview with her soon. Until then, here are some things she enjoys other than writing.
JM: Your blog includes a variety of entries – short, long, writing tips, lessons you’ve learned, brief updates about your books, upcoming releases and projects you’re doing. One of my favorites is from 2012 and it is two words long. Why I Write, and you simply state – “enough said.” And have a photo of you and your daughter. Does she have the same passion for writing as you, or is she on a different path? Obviously she’s young and it could change a million times but, what do you see in her future?
TL: My daughter is very creative, she's actually a great artist. We're currently trying to teach her to value practicing her skills. She's got natural talent, from my dad for sure, but practice makes perfect. She has very creative stories and we're always talking about working on a book together, but nothing has materialized yet. I see her drawing sticking around for a long time, but we'll see how writing goes!
JM: Do you have a passion besides writing, another hobby that you work into your free time?
TL: My other passions would include business and learning. I honestly love to learn. I read fiction and non-fiction for the purposes of learning more about writing as well as subjects that enhance my life. Also, I'm a serious Googler. If I don't know something, I will look it up immediately and immerse myself in knowing more about it. I definitely learn something new every day. I am a serial entrepreneur and have opened a few successful businesses before changing my focus. Business is absolutely my first love and I didn't realize until maybe four years ago that my books are a business. Putting out a quality product and getting it into people's hands is the number 1 and number 2 business rule. So of course, when someone writes a book and puts it up for sale they are becoming a business person. My bachelor's degree is in business so I have a little advanced knowledge but it's something I am constantly learning about, even from my fellow authors.
JM: What is your favorite vacation spot? Favorite memory from there?
TL: We love to visit Las Vegas. The food! The shows! It's a fun and ever-changing place. We haven't gone in a few years but it's definitely in the top five vacation spots for my family.
For more information about Tiffany, book excerpts and trailers, her blog posts and social media info, visit https://tiffanychristinalewis.com/.
The Michael Taylor series is available for purchase on Amazon.
**Cover design by Angie, a Fiverr artist.
***Author photo is property of the author.