Lilian Lewis publishes first book at 77

Lilian Lewis, right, and her daughter Veronica Carasquero show off their copies of Aunty Ivy’s story: How Coronavirus Changed lifestyles in 2020 – Month to Month Recall. -
Lilian Lewis, right, and her daughter Veronica Carasquero show off their copies of Aunty Ivy’s story: How Coronavirus Changed lifestyles in 2020 – Month to Month Recall. -


For anyone who has ever placed an expiry date on their dreams or aspirations, Lilian Lewis encourages them to rethink that position.

Lewis, a mother and grandmother has dared to challenge herself to persist until her dreams manifested. For as long as she can remember she has loved to write, and she has written, and at 77, she is now the proud author of Aunty Ivy’s story: How Coronavirus Changed lifestyles in 2020 – Month to Month Recall, available at select bookstores nationwide, and on Amazon.

"Any topic that I find interesting, I write about it; I have a dream, I write it down; I go down the road and see something interesting, I write it down. Even spiritual experiences," Lewis told WMN.

She said the novelty of the covid 19 pandemic struck a chord with her and resonated deeply, so daily, she journalled about the changes that she was witnessing around her; about how ordinary events and routines had changed so drastically – shopping, birthday parties, attending church services, celebrating Christmas and other special occasions – everything. She had neither witnessed nor experienced anything like this, and based on the conversations she had held with her parents and grandparents, they too had never lived through any such challenges. She therefore wrote intentionally, not yet aware that this would end up being her first publication, but instinctively, she was determined that future generations would be able to relive the pandemic years through her eyes and by her words.

Lewis and her only daughter Veronica Carasquero (also a published author) share a special bond, and when she shared some of what she had written about the pandemic Carasquero was impressed, and almost instantly sensed, as did her mother, that this might be the one – the script that could take her out of anonymity, and introduce her to the literary world. Lewis said her daughter asked almost immediately, '“Mammy, yuh want to write the book?' I said,'Yes,' and she said, 'I will help you write your book.'”

From that point, almost four years ago, publication process began in earnest and the duo began to pursue what has been Lewis’ lifelong labour of love. Buoyed by the support and encouragement of family, friends, neighbours and loved ones, they embarked on the journey.

Lewis described her childhood in Paramin as a happy one. She was one of seven siblings, and she is thankful that up until her parents died she was able to care for them, while simultaneously looking after her three children – two boys and one girl. As a single mother it was not always easy, but she managed to do it successfully. She provided for her family by farming, and was uncompromising when it came to her children's education. She did her best to ensure that they were adequately provided for. She said she always wanted “bright children."

“So I used to take them all about. And where I could go? Was mostly prayers eh, so we used to go to prayers all over. I gave my best and I can say that things turned out nicely.”

She even found time to serve as the president of the Paramin RC PTA and play the guitar – her other lifelong hobby. Notwithstanding her obviously packed schedule and significant responsibilities, throughout her life she somehow managed to carve out spaces in her day to write about anything and everything.

The cover of Aunty Ivy’s story: How Coronavirus Changed lifestyles in 2020 – Month to Month Recall. -

After a lifetime of documenting countless accounts and harbouring a deep desire to one day publish her own book, Lewis equipped herself in the best way she knew how; she did an overseas correspondence course in comprehension and writing in 2008, which she is convinced was instrumental in improving her writing. In 2020, she finally settled on a topic she felt was worthy of sharing with the world. The decades spent penning colourful anecdotes, she said, were well worth it. But many of them didn’t meet her standard and were discarded. She said even though some of the other compositions felt ready for publication, they did not contain the same passion and intensity that this one did.

Lewis said as she wrote these chapters, she became so invested in the work she was doing, that on more than one occasion she was moved to tears. This topic was near and dear to her, different from any of her other musings about her dreams or her outings to the city, or the shenanigans of passers-by.

"This was serious, literally life and death."

She had been in a state of disbelief at how drastically lifestyles had changed and how every aspect of life had been affected. Armed with an actual pen, because she does not use a computer, she could barely keep up with her thoughts on some days. As she consistently churned out page after page, with accompanying illustrations which she also did, Carasquero transcribed her work and then doubled as her primary editor. The proud members of Lewis’ family and village galvanised around her, lending whatever support was required to assure Lewis would succeed. Asked how her circle has reacted to her achievement, she responded excitedly, “Wooooo, Real proud! I have a brother there, he said, ‘You did very well, feel proud!’”

Her sister, she said, is extremely proud and her grandchildren have been falling over themselves in their anxiety to read the book.

Now that she has this publication out of the way, she has her sights set on another – one that will pay tribute to the traditions passed on from her parents – the Patois that she and Carasquero speak fluently; the music and so much more. She also aspires to host an event which celebrates the rich culture of her community.

Carasquero, who sat in on the interview, beamed with pride and said her mother has always been a creative, and if she had had the opportunity to receive a higher level of education she would definitely have excelled in multiple fields.

On the days when Lewis puts down her pen and her guitar, she can be found spending time with her sister, or making some oven bakes, which Carasquero says is the best. Other times she’s watching TV or YouTube videos. Her family is doing what they can to make her more tech saavy and have gifted her a smart phone, and they are committed to teaching her how to send text and Whatsapp messages.

Lewis continues to write on a daily basis and looks forward to her next project, when she will have the opportunity to share more of her thoughts with the world.


"Lilian Lewis publishes first book at 77"

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