.Local Author’s Book Weaves Tale of Survival in the Santa Cruz Mountains

For the past eight years, Nikki Lewen has been writing and releasing a trilogy of novels—all the while being a full-time teacher and coach at Watsonville High School.

This year, all that hard work has paid off as Lewen celebrates not only the release of the third and final book of her series but her retirement, as well.

“It took a lot of work … a lot of odd hours,” Lewen said. “But I’m so glad I did it. I really like how things have come together.”

Lewen’s “Three Sisters” trilogy follows the story of Sadie Larkin, a woman who has survived a global natural catastrophe and taken refuge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. After reuniting with someone from her past, Larkin discovers she is in a position to make a difference in the world.

The first book, “A Tale of Survival” was released in spring 2019. By then, Lewen had almost finished the second installment, “Return to Three Sisters” and had a start on the third, “Destined,” which was released last month.

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Dubbed “Cli-Fi” (short for Climate Change Fiction), the action-adventure trilogy has underlying themes of humans’ effect on the natural environment. It is not lost on Lewen how pertinent this subject is right now.

“We are at a critical tipping point,” she said. “Things are crazy, from the pandemic to this devastating fire season. I hope this story can reach readers …. Sometimes people tune out from articles, facts and data …. Fiction is a great way to get people thinking in a different way.”

There is also a strong female presence that permeates the trilogy, which Lewen hopes will have a positive and inspiring effect on both women and men. (She notes that the novels are meant for older teens and adults.)

Completing “Three Sisters” was a challenge for Lewen—one that nearly made her give up after the first book. Dealing with publishers, editors and promoters was frustrating and turned her off to the industry.

But Lewen said she felt “compelled” to complete the story, and that it was her duty to get it to page.

“I don’t feel like I had a choice but to write this … the characters, the setting, everything just sort of came to me in a rush,” she said. “Sometimes I’d wake up from a dead sleep and a dialogue would be running through my mind. It took over me.”

Lewen has been using her platform on Amazon to give away copies of her books to various nonprofits, fellow teachers and local 2020 high school graduates. She hopes to continue this gifting into the upcoming holiday season.

Lewen said that now she is retired, she will focus on freelance jobs and put more effort into marketing her writing—which is especially hard during the pandemic, when authors are unable to do in-person events.

As for “Three Sisters,” Lewen hopes that the story will remind readers that even in difficult times, all is not lost, and that people can still make a difference if they work together. 

“We may disagree on things, look different from each other, come from different backgrounds, but we’re all on one giant team,” she said.


  1. I appreciate this nice article about a local author’s work. I am also a local author and just had my second book published by local independent publisher, Desert Palm Press. The book is “The Weaver’s Daughter,” an immigration story from the point of view of a young Maya girl from Mexico who crosses the border to the U.S. to find her father. It’s middle grade fiction for ages 10-13. You can take a look on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1948327783?pf_rd_r=NMZ23S6C850J6SK9BCXM&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee. The Santa Cruz Public Library has three copies on order.
    If you’re interested in another article about a book by a local author, also on a timely subject, I’d love to hear from you.


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