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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Interview: E. G. Lewis, Author of LOST


A: Good morning, E.G. Lewis! What a great morning for an interview. Yesterday, I reviewed your book, and I have the pleasure of saying it's one I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm so glad you could answer some questions for us, and I hope readers will send you another question or two.

A: What gave you the idea for your novel, Lost?

E.G.: My wife was the one who aspired to write fiction, so one year I gave her an out-of-print copy of How to Write Bestselling Fiction by Dean Koontz. I read it too and, though I didn’t find it very helpful, it did convince me there was a method to this madness. Prior to that, I imagined novelists as guys living in a New York wearing tweed jackets with elbow patches and smoking a pipe. Koontz said create a situation and then work your character out of it. Filled with beginner’s hubris, I opened a document and typed, “A guy’s wife is on a cruise ship that disappears and he must find out what happened.”

A. Neat beginning. Now, a lot of folks assume, too, that the writers must have the entire history, geography, and extraneous info just sitting around in their heads waiting for paper to print it on. Not so. In this book, you had to have needed an immense amount of research. Can you guestimate how many hours?

E.G.: Wow! My habit is to write in the mornings, eat a late lunch, and then address research issues in the afternoon. As I said in my author’s notes, my novel PROMISES also came out that original effort. Combined research time would probably be in the range of 500 hours.

A. Five hundred? Now, I have a feeling that is a conservative estimate. Even though you trimmed it a bunch, there are a lot of really neat sections. I maybe especially loved when Claudia helped Billy stuff the newspapers with ads. What was your favorite part of this book?

E.G.: That’s a toughie. I suppose it would be the section where Eddie rescues Tom in the forest. I especially like the part where Ellie finds Eddie applying CPR and says, “Mr. Beltzer, how come you’re kissin’ my Grandpa?”

A: [chuckling]. Yeah, I loved that, too. If there were just one point people would get from the book, what would you like it to be?

E.G.: Love conquers all. Tom loved his wife and granddaughter. The deep friendship between Eddie and Tom is also a form of love, as is the kindness and support Tom offered Claudia.

A: True. Where would we be if Jesus hadn't exhibited the greatest love ever to us? You said in some of your Author's Notes you started out with 175,000 words! Wow--how long did it take you to whittle it down to a publishable tome?

E.G. It took a very, very long time. I completed the first manuscript in 2007. Lost was published in 2011. In the process I learned how to center my plotting instead of following every trail in the woods.

A: How did you whittle out those extra trails in the woods? For instance, when I shave a piece out, I put it in a separate file--I might want to use it in something else. Do you do something similar?

E.G. Pretty much. My first step when beginning a book is to create a spreadsheet where I track each chapter. I never throw anything away…who knows when you might need it?

A: Exactly. How long did it take you to write the original 175,000?

E.G. At the time, I was merchandising three days a week for a national book distributor and writing on my days off. The first draft took me almost a year. I tend to write slowly, polishing as I go.

A: I hate to end this here, but I also don't want to give too much away or to rob others of the joy of grilling you... Therefore, readers--do you have questions for Mr. Lewis?

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