Sunday, August 5, 2018

Agent's Panel: Kevin Lewis

Panel Moderated by Alexandra Penfold

Panelist Kevin Lewis is an agent with the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, who primarily focuses on writer-illustrators and diverse voices. Kevin has been a publishing professional for more than 25 years.

Careerwise, Lewis is a guy who likes to shake things up, to try new things. He's an admitted contrarian, who keeps an eye out for what is not being published. Captain Underpants, for instance, a book that he edited. At the time, there was nothing else out there like it.

Lewis prefers to keep his clientele small. He wants to work with people he feels he can truly help. He only works with author-illustrators. Likes creators with passion.

Lewis especially appreciates new and different approaches to storytelling, and has enjoyed watching Don't Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus. 
the evolution of picture books during his years in the industry. For example, Mo Williams' fresh approach to storytelling in

On the question of writers writing outside of their experience, Lewis spoke about the challenge. Writers often want to tell stories others say they should not tell. That goes against who we are as writers who live in a country where we are free to express ourselves, how we please. If a writer truly wants to write from another culture, they should feel free do so, but also be prepared to accept the consequences. Actions have consequences.

Advice: Immerse yourself in the culture. Learn about it. What annoys Lewis is when a writer who hasn't lived his experience, is suddenly interested in writing about his experience . . . because it's marketable. Check your motivations.

Career advice: Don't isolate yourself. Get out into your community. See what can you change. That is what will inspire your art. Don't be so myopic.

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