An East Cheatham Elementary School custodian who suffered through deep sadness after the death of his father has found new hope in creating a new five-book fantasy novel series. Paul Lewis, Jr., said his imagination was recharged by being surrounded by the teachers, students, and staff at the school. Lewis, who has been interested in writing since he was 11 years old, published the first book in the series, Chronicles of the Nine Isles: The Lost Dragon and the Widow of Ellamar, this fall.
Many characters in the book are inspired by the people with whom Lewis works.
“I did this to show appreciation to everyone there,” he said. Lewis started working at ECES shortly after his father passed away, and he said the teachers, staff, and students helped him regain his creativity and helped him pick up his pen again and write.
“In 2019, I tried to write a story for the fourth graders. I wanted a sword and sorcery book for them, but what I had come up with was boring. I met Mrs. Deona (Ray), and I told her about my stories I had in my head and asked her to help me with it. She is a creative person and decorates the bulletin boards at the school. She has done designs with Dumbo the elephant and one with a frozen lake and children’s pictures,” Lewis said.
Ray, who teaches pre-K, inspired the dragon character, and has helped write scenes here and there, he said. The cafeteria workers inspired the sisters of destiny, Melissa Jones inspired Captain Leonara Jones, and Renee Pearson inspired Lady Samarra. Ray also helps Lewis with character interaction, making sure that the dialogue in the book genuinely reflects each character effectively. The book, which follows a boy and a dragon on their adventures, definitely has a humorous slant, he said, and compared it to the buddy film Lethal Weapon.
“The dragon is like Mel Gibson and (the boy) Rikter is like Danny Glover,” Lewis explained.
In the first book, the dragon and the boy meet each other, and their relationship grows, he said. In the second book, the pair have a quest, and a new character is introduced.
Students can check out Chronicles of the Nine Isles: The Lost Dragon and the Widow of Ellamar at ECES and SMS.
You can also find the book on Amazon, Lewis said. The second book is expected to hit shelves in December.