Behind the Words is welcoming Erika Lewis to the blog today. Erica’s latest release is KELCIE MURPHY AND THE ACADEMY FOR THE UNBREAKABLE ARTS.

Let’s begin with where you’re from, and where you live?

I grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, spent summers in Worcester, Massachusetts, went to university in Nashville, Tennessee and London, England. Worked in Atlanta, and then moved to Los Angeles, California. When people ask me where I’m from, it’s Virginia. When people ask me where I live, it’s Los Angeles. But I love to travel and move around. It’s where my inspirations come from.

Is writing your full-time job? 

It is now. When I wrote Game of Shadows, my first novel, I was working for NBC Universal for a network called G4TV. I loved working in television, but I also loved writing, and was luckily able to do both for a while, until deadlines became too much.

How long have you been writing? 

It all started as a kid. I spent hours crafting what was essentially fanfiction for Spider-Man, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica.

What does your typical writing day look like?

My typical day starts out like every other parent, getting the kids ready for school and out the door with lunches in hand. Then, I move into the office and write or edit (depending on what stage I’m in for the manuscript I’m working on) until around two. After that, I get a little me time. Exercise, shower, eat, answer emails. Then suddenly it’s five and I’m feeding hungry kids, playing with our golden retriever, and then, I go back to work for a couple of hours if I’m lucky. Evenings and late nights are when I get some of my best ideas.

Give us a peek inside your latest release.

Kelcie Murphy and The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts introduces readers to a new kind of magical school and a warrior who must choose with which side of an epic battle her destiny will lie.

The Otherworld is at war, and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts trains warriors. Chasing her first clue to her parents’ identities, Kelcie Murphy ends up at the school. But there are no invitations to AUA. A place can only be attained by passing the difficult and painful tests.

When Kelcie tests, she learns that she’s a Saiga, one of the most ancient beings in the Otherworld. Secretive, shunned, and possessed of imposing elemental powers, the Saiga are also kin to the Otherworld’s most infamous traitor.

This story is an epic tale full of action and intrigue, but it’s also about Kelcie, a kid who is anything but perfect. None of her friends are either; they’re all toiling with their own difficulties. Struggles that manifest as arrogance or bursts of anger. Symptoms that take time to recognize, but once you do, opens a pathway to friendship. As they work together and get to know each other, their bonds strengthen, and it’s those bonds that make it possible for them to remain strong during the darkest times. Kelcie, as she discovers the frightening truth of her past, realizes that for the first time in her life, she has friends to lean on. It’s their friendship that she draws on for the strength to choose her own destiny.

What inspired this book? 

I first fell in love with the magical beginnings of Ireland while studying abroad during my junior year of college. But it was on a trip many years later to Scotland, to the Isle of Skye, where I was lucky enough to visit the ruins of Dunscaith Castle (better known as the Fortress of Shadows), that I learned of the deity who would be the inspiration for the leader of my Academy. According to Celtic lore, thousands of years ago, a legendary warrior and goddess of teaching named Scáthach taught Ireland’s biggest heroes to fight with martial arts and magic. She and her school became the framework for The Academy.

Can you share a detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book? 

Scáthach has a sister, and while she trains warriors for the Lands of Summer, her sister trains warriors for Scáthach’s enemy, the Lands of Winter.

What has been your hardest scene to write?

The hardest scenes to write in this book were the scenes where she finally finds out who her parents are.

Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? 

Madame Le Deux, Kelcie’s Sword & Sorcery teacher. I would explain why but it would be a huge spoiler.

If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?  

Scáthach because she’s SO cool!

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? 

Dear Anjali by Melissa Glenn Haber

What’s your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!  

The kid in me would say Twizzlers, but the adult in me would say scotch.

And what is your writing Kryptonite?

Midnight hours with a full pot of hot coffee.

Thank you so much for joining us today Erica! And there’s a package of Twizzlers in my car….just sayin’.


The Otherworld is at war. The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts trains warriors. And Kelcie Murphy―a foster child raised in the human world―is dying to attend.

A place at AUA means meeting Scáthach, the legendary trainer of Celtic heroes. It means learning to fight with a sword. It means harnessing her hidden powers and―most importantly―finding out who her parents are, and why they abandoned her in Boston Harbor eight years ago.

When Kelcie tests into the school, she learns that she’s a Saiga, one of the most ancient beings in the Otherworld. Secretive, shunned, and possessed of imposing elemental powers, the Saiga are also kin to the Otherworld’s most infamous traitor.

But Kelcie is a survivor, and she’ll do whatever it takes to find her parents and her place in their world. Even if that means making a few enemies.






A graduate of Vanderbilt University, ERIKA LEWIS’ list of credits straddles the comics and novel space, including Game of Shadows from Tor Books, Firebrand and Acursian from Legendary Comics, #Guardian from Awesome Media & Entertainment, and The 49th Key from HM Publishing. The Color of Dragons is her debut YA, coming from Harper Teen in the fall of 2021, and The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts is her middle grade debut coming from Starscape in the spring of 2022.


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Her fiction writing has received the Author / Ambassador at Library Journal Self-e Authors, Winner Queen of the West Reader Favorite Award, Amazon Bestseller - Historical, Double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Mystery and Humorous Categories. Writing humorous cozy mysteries and romantic comedy, Jocie can find humor in most everything, even when she shouldn't. She lives in the Midwest on Dust Bunny Farm with her family.