Today’s interview is with an author who has an amazingly sweet and inspirational spirit, Lotis (pronounced Low-teece) Key.
Where did you grow up? My family has always traveled, so I’ve spent some time almost everywhere – Europe, Asia, the US. When I became an adult and was on my own, I just naturally traveled most of the time as well. I believe it must be something God builds into the individual design He makes for us. I never actively sought this life style … it was simply the path opened to me.
What are some memories you have of growing up as a world traveler? My memories of growing up are of constant change in temperature, language, food and dress, the natural consequence of which, I rarely feel out of place, wherever I am. Psychologists say that individuals who grow up wandering have no roots. Well, perhaps some don’t … but speaking for myself, I am deeply rooted into many places. I’m quickly at home just about anywhere, and have few food or cultural adjustment issues.
What brought you to Minnesota? My sister was adopting her first child (the first of four) and we wanted to be here to celebrate that. Also, there was a revolution in the Philippines so it was a good time to leave.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A nun. At the age of nine, I read the autobiography of Teresa de Avila and the impact has lasted all my life. Although I’m not from a believing family, and did not become born again until I was in my thirties, I was, early on, impressed with a desire to know God intimately.
What do you love about living in Minnesota? The beauty. The cleanliness. The weather. The wild life. The safety. It’s an impressionist painting in blue and green.
Unfortunately, that’s true. Tell us about your writing journey. I was thinking about this, and suddenly realized that I’ve always been a writer … just not with my hands. Most of my life has been spent speaking other people’s words. Movies, theater, commercials, industrials, TV shows, etc. etc. etc…. One side of my brain was always interpreting other people’s written work, and the other side, critiquing it!
Actors are paid to take text off the paper and give it life. I am a professional and have always respected the work given me, but in my heart I couldn’t help secretly rewriting it. I think it’s because most writers have no experience in oral interpretation. Those of us who speak their written words, and earn our living making them “real” develop a better sense of flow.
I started really writing for MESSENGERS (www.themessengersfeet.org) a Christian theater I founded for Bethlehem Baptist Church. Unable to find the type of written work I had a vision to direct and produce, I was pushed to create it myself. It was very innovative church theater, and toured successfully for twelve years across the US, Canada and Asia.
Wow. I love stories like that – where people see a need and do something about it. Are you still active with MESSENGERS? We’re currently on hiatus while I work on my books. I was only planning to write one, but then completed two, and now there’s a third to be finished! I am invited quite often to teach on writing and producing Christian theater, so that takes up a lot of my time now, as well.
Writing fiction is different in so many ways from writing drama. What led you to write a book? Desiring to experiment with other ways to communicate God, I prayed about it, and felt a leading to write a full length novel. Yes. Out of the blue. Just like that. Hahahha…. So, I took a leave from the theater and wrote two novels, which are now indie-ebooks.
My first book, The Song of the Tree, is a contemporary allegory. It’s about a foreigner who loses everything in a terrible war and tries to start her life again in a new country. It charts the journey of bitterness many Christians make, when they perceive the God they trusted as having lied to them.
Although this story is written from the Christian perspective, concerning God’s purposeful maturation of the believer in preparation for life eternal, there is no overt mention of Jesus Christ or God, in the hopes of reaching the wider audience of those “only looking in the window.” Interestingly, the question of Gods’ seeming indifference to human pain is a subject that focuses both believers and non-believers alike.
That’s definitely a universal issue. And your second book? Titled A Thing Devoted, it is the story of a Christian family going through a crisis. A husband has committed adultery and set a divorce in motion. A little girl journals her questions concerning what appears to her to be the failure of God to protect her parents. The story bears witness to the disintegration of people who are confident that God loves them. This intimate story of one family’s journey through fire considers the purpose of suffering, its defining nature, and ultimately its life giving power.
What is a lesson you’ve learned during this fiction writing journey? Unfamiliar with the trends in Christian fiction, I learned that my particular interests don’t easily find a category in most Christian fiction writing groups. At one conference, I was told my work is literary, and my usage of people of ethnicity as main characters makes my work unmarketable. Perhaps it’s because my own Christian reading has been primarily non-fiction that my stores aren’t romances, para-normals, cozies, or thrillers. They’re everyday stories about ordinary, unbeautiful people, struggling to know and love God. My heroes and heroines are immigrants, people of color, adopted children, cripples, losers. I find these characters interesting, and since they populate our churches, perhaps some of them will read my books.
Sounds like your books are about people from every walk of life and corner of the world. What are you currently working on? My third book, now in process, is about a child who lives on the streets in an Asian mega city.
What are your future plans and goals around writing? To write the stories God gives me. I can’t write with a goal to make money, or please particular groups. When I was younger, I was malleable to the desires of my betters. I’m too old now. I want to write for people who don’t necessarily hate Him, but in the chaos and pain of living, simply can’t find Him. Or … perhaps, I write for people looking for a way, not to escape but to be found. I don’t know. I’m not a great writer. I just try to let God use me for His purposes.
That’s what I’m striving for in my writing as well – letting God design and use it for His purposes. What’s something you’d like to experience in Minnesota that you haven’t yet? I’ve traveled this state from side to side and top to bottom. Ice fished, skied, sailed, portaged through the Boundary Waters, canoed in the moonlight. I’ve even been to the Big Mall. But I haven’t swum in Lake Superior, because when I waded in up to my knees, I quickly got out again, deciding it wasn’t worth dying for.
Ha! Love it! What’s something most people don’t know about you? No matter my expression (people tell me I have a very serious and even forbidding countenance), that is just the way my face is built. The truth is I have a genetic condition called total happiness. I’ve certainly had a few sad times in my life, but it’s hard for me to remember them clearly. I’m totally convinced God loves me, and after that … well, what else is there to worry about? I’m always happy, and my mother will tell you that from birth, I was anointed with the oil of joy.
I can honestly say you have one of the sweetest spirits, I’ve ever encountered. Thanks so much for stopping by, Lotis.
If you’d like to know more about Lotis and her books, or to chat with her, you can find her at http://www.lotiskey.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lotis-Key/127577174071712?ref=hl
And please leave a comment or question for her here!