The Waterstones Children's Book Prize Blog: Kayvion Lewis

Posted on 4th April 2024 by Anna Orhanen

As we continue to celebrate the winners of this year's Waterstones Children's Book Prize winners, we are delighted to share a piece from Kayvion Lewis who novel Thieves' Gambit was chosen the best book for older readers. In this exclusive piece, Kayvion talks about the book that made her a writer. 

When I was eleven years old, sitting on the colorful reading carpet in my fifth grade teacher’s classroom on a miserably hot Louisiana summer day, I had the realization of a lifetime. 

I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I, Kayvion Cordelia Lewis, was going to be…an adventurer!

It was perfect! And definitely had nothing to do with the fact that my teacher was currently reading us Rick Riordan’s The 39 Clues, the first in a series of books about a pair of siblings traveling the world in search of clues to find the greatest treasure known to man. 

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The more chapters she read, the more certain I was about my future profession. Joining secret societies? Traveling the world? Getting into high-stakes struggles? Who wouldn’t want to do that when they grew up? 

As I made my way through middle school then high school, and grew into adulthood, I’m embarrassed to say that I maintained this thought that I could somehow get paid for going around the world having adventures. This conviction led me all the way to my first Archeology 101 class as a new Anthropology major in university, where the professor opened the class by putting a picture of Indiana Jones on the projector and saying “if you’re here because you think you’re going to have the same life as this guy, you’re in the wrong class.”


As I left the lecture hall, thoroughly deflated, I thought back to that little book I’d fallen in love with when I was young, and the yearning it had left in my soul. Was it possible that the life plan I created based on a book I read when I was eleven wasn’t realistic?

Kayvion Lewis, now 19-years-old and a fully grown adult, refused to believe it. I was destined to live the life The 39 Clues inspired in me as a wee little eleven-year-old. Everything in between - finding a new college major and getting hired at my local library - was merely part of my origin story. The prologue before my real opening chapters. And to make sure I didn’t forget my destiny, I was sure to remind my library coworker everyday that she needed to appreciate my presence while she could, for one day I would disappear, and venture out onto the quest I’d always been meant to live, just like the Cahill siblings. (I had enough common sense not to add the part about basing my life goals on fictional twelve-year-olds.) 

Perhaps I was a bit too overzealous in repeating this every single day, because one day my coworker rolled her eyes and hit me with a curveball. How was I going to fund these adventures? she asked. Since I’m disappointed to tell you librarianship is not often a route to riches (though it should be) and unlike the Cahills I don’t come from an elite family of millionaires and celebrities, my coworker made a very reasonable point.

It was at this moment, thinking yet again about this book from my fifth grade class, I had the second realization of a lifetime. 

“I’m going to write adventure novels!” I’d said. “And they’ll fund my adventures! Ahahaha!”

If I couldn’t go on an adventure just yet, surely I could write one. Or two. Or maybe ten! After all, I’d been thinking about them ever since that day in middle school. When I sat down to write Thieves’ Gambit, I already had a lifetime of wanderlust and adrenaline-fueled longings ready to pour out onto the pages. All the desires The 39 Clues left lingering for years were finally being put to use. 

Did The 39 Clues inspire me to become a writer? It certainly influenced the person that I grew up to be, and the future I wanted to have. So much of which has trickled - okay, flooded - into the stories I write. 

Thank you to Rick Riordan, and all the other authors who continued the story. I wish I’d known way back when that being an author could be just as exciting as being an adventurer.


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