Interview with the Author

Andre Lewis

Author of Pay to Play

Interview by Gloria Jenkins

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I just finished reading your novel, Pay to Play, and couldn't put it down.  What was your inspiration?

A.Lewis: My life. Too often people talk about the selling drugs part of the game (street life) but it's much more than that.  It's treachery at it's best. Everyone experiences the game in a different way, while in the streets you have to deal with family stuff and still maintain the street life. There's always rules to the game and one of them is you have to pay to play.

G.Jenkins: The characters and incidents in your novel seem very real, was any of the story based on real life?

A.Lewis: This book is about life. In the hood people go through the same things, baby mother issues, getting shot or shot at, the evil stepfather, etc. I didn't write about one person in particular but I wrote about the hood.

G.Jenkins: As a black woman, I sometimes find it hard to find a good brother who's willing to settle down. Why are men, like your main character Marlon, so into chasing woman?

A.Lewis: This is a social phenomenon that I believe social scientists are battling as we speak. I think it stems from two stimuli, one is our African heritage of polygamy and the other is the social castration of the black man.  See I think psychologically black men feel that they are not the king within the society they live in.  To them it seems that they have to battle with the white male for status. Because society is not structured by them, they feel inadequate and this fuels a need to show and prove.

How else can the brother feel like he is the man? He does this by having more than one woman. The polygamy part I believe exhibits it's effect through genetics and cultural norms. In the ancient African society, a black man had more than one wife as long as he could support them. There was no problem within the society about this. The brothers today wants to rekindle his greatness and his genetics dictates this to him.

G.Jenkins: With so many of our youth being killed or convicted on drug charges, are you concerned that your novel will glamorize the drug dealing lifestyle?

A.Lewis: Money glamorizes everything, trust me, but within my book you'll notice there is a lesson to be learned here. See, we can't lecture our youth about not selling drugs. What we have to do is show them the truth. Let them see the real side of the game. The part where people get murdered, betrayed and end up in prison. No lecturing, just show them the stuff Marlon had to go through and I guarantee you they will think twice. So, no, I don't think my book glorifies the drugs, it show the truth, the lesson, that you might have to pay the ultimate price to play in this game, and that may be your life.

G.Jenkins: I'm glad to see that you had one character, Marlon's sister Brianna, working toward a college degree. Is that something you feel strongly about?

A.Lewis: In the hood, a lot of kids don't get the chance at a good education and, if they do, it's usually the female who goes on to college. Education is key. We need education so that we can make intelligent decisions. Poor education breeds poor decision making. You know what, I think all kids should be taught their history, black kids, white kids, and all other races. I wish all children had the opportunity to get a good education then our jails wouldn't be so full.

G.Jenkins: What other lessons are you hoping your readers will learn from your book?

A.Lewis: That nothing is ever what it seems on the surface and if you look closer you'll be able to see the inner workings.

G.Jenkins: Most urban novelists tend to stick to the urban genre. What makes you different?

A.Lewis: Most urban novelists tend to stick to what they know. They write about their experiences growing up in urban areas but I think what sets me apart from them is that I have a wild imagination and I can conjure up all different types of stories. I've written science fiction, mystery, horror, romance, numerous short stories, and poems.

G.Jenkins: Well I really did enjoy your novel and I'm looking forward to your next one, Perfect Crime Sweet Revenge, which is due out in the spring of 2005. Could you briefly let us know what we can expect from it?

A.Lewis: Thank you. My next book is about a perfect crime designed for the sweetest of revenge. That's all I'll say.




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