Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Feeling "writer's flood?" - Author Interview with Lotis Key

The Song of the Tree

Despite promises of eternal joy given by the Tree of Life, a privileged young woman loses everything in a brutal war. Her husband disappears; her family is murdered; her home is burned to the ground. 

Desperate, starving, and burdened with an unwanted child, she now despises and rejects the Tree she once worshiped. Ripped from her land and people, forced into survival immigration, she becomes a lowly refugee, a servant in the homes of the rich. Her unusually gifted child thrives, but is an ever present reminder of ultimate loss and betrayal.

Two women: one broken, the other rooted in bitterness, continue to be drawn towards the song of a Tree that will not let them go. Along roads of degrading poverty and equally destructive wealth, each much wrestle with the siren call of perfect love, and its altar sacrifice of perfect trust. 

The Song of the Tree is an intense, contemporary allegory that moves the God-seeker from fist shaking stance, down to knees before the throne. 

A Thing Devoted chronicles two years in the life of a Christian family devastated by adultery and divorce. Three, adopted, multi-racial children, struggle with the question of God’s seeming indifference to their pain. Ten year old Abster, a tiny spy in the house of loss and confusion, keeps a daily record of her observations. 

“If you attend church weekly, and on time, are attentive in Sunday school, get full immersion baptism, tithe more than ten per cent, volunteer in the nursery, pray for missions, and really, truly believe in God, shouldn’t you be protected?

Shouldn’t He keep terrible things from happening to you? I understand my obligations to Jesus, but what are His, to me?” This intimate story of one family’s journey through fire, considers the purpose of suffering, its defining nature, and ultimately its life giving power.

Lotis Melisande Key has lived a life of wide travel and curious variety. She’s raised horses in the Australian outback, skied the Alps, run tours through a tropical jungle, bought and sold antiquities. She’s been a restaurateur, a breeder of show cats, a third world church planter. She’s worked in an orphanage and run a ministry that puts children through school.

After a professional theater d├ębut at the age of twelve, she subsequently starred in over 75 feature films for the Asian market. She’s also hosted numerous television and radio shows. Upon settling in the U.S., her work expanded American on-camera and voice over narration, industrial videos, trade shows, professional theater, television, and radio commercials. 

She is the founder of MESSENGERS, a Christian theater arts group based at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis ( As artistic director, she toured the company throughout the US, Canada, and Asia. Vice-president of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild, Lotis is a passionate storyteller. Her work focuses on the mystery of God, and His incomprehensible love for the unattractive, wayward parts, of His otherwise perfect, creation. For infor about Lotis, check out her website,

Ten Questions with Author Lotis Key

What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?

The Song of the Tree, and A Thing Devoted, are my first two novels, and although unrelated, they released together.

The Song of the Tree is a story of bitter loss, and the pain of desperation that drives us away from the God we love. I wrote it for the thousands upon thousands of people, who have lost everything, through disasters of every kind. For people whose only choice, is to start over, or lie down and die. Where is God for them in that kind of recovery? Can they still hang on to a belief, that He is infinitely good?

A Thing Devoted is the story of a Christian family going through a divorce. Again, the premise is the purposes of God in pain, this time, through the eyes of an adopted child. She questions God’s responsibility to keep us from sin.

What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?

I have known a lot of people from war torn countries, trying to pull their lives back together, and seen that the American church has little to say to them about their loss. Immigrants struggle with the question of God’s faithfulness. Does He care about people who aren’t white? Is what happens to people in war … His goodness? How does that work?

The same question applies with Christian divorce. Where is God in crisis like that? Does God love, or hate His people? Is He punishing them? If this can happen to a Christian family … is there even really a God?

It seems to me that it is often easier for people to connect with a story, than a Bible tract, or a sermon. So I write stories for people seeking Biblically based answers they can understand.

Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?

I’m am evangelist at heart. I burn with a desire to communicate the loveliness, and perfect goodness of God. He makes me restless … always whispering, use the time use the time use the time. There will be nothing left of us, after our temporary existence on this planet, nothing left to mark our passage here, except, what we did to magnify Him.

How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?

I don’t think I’ve ever consciously researched a story. I guess … I’ve had an eventful life, and the things I’ve seen, and done, have parked themselves in the rooms of my head. As a trained actor, I have a prodigious memory, so that probably helps. I’m a rabid reader, yet, prior to writing these two novels, I never considered becoming a writer, or telling anyone outside dinner guests, any of my stories.

Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?

While everyone you’ve ever passed on the life road can’t help but be a part of your personal story, I suppose the writing aspect of mine, has been most influenced by Dr. John Piper. He has been my friend, and Pastor, for over twenty years, and, although I was already in love with God, Piper expanded, and inflamed my desire to proclaim Him. 

Piper, is a great theologian, and reading his books has shaped me. I have also been shaped by the writing of Jonathan Edwards. Yet, I recognize, that not everyone is equipped for that magnitude of exposition. So, not being myself, on that level, I wanted to write stories that would be more accessible to ordinary people, looking for answers.

What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?

The fact, that writing, is so pleasurable. It’s really astonishing to me, because I’ve never thought of myself as having much to say. I don’t, in fact, talk much, unless I’m paid to. I laugh when I hear the term, “writer’s block”, because I have “writers flood”. I can just go on and on…. Most of my time is actually spent cutting out half of what I write.

If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?

I am who I am. I do want people to read my books, in fact, I pray they will! However, I cannot remake myself, to fit my writing, into what will “sell.”
I write stories that interest me. I write about people, and situations, that interest me. It’s really too bad, because as a former, professional actor, I’m skilled in the fine art of turning myself into whatever is needed at the moment. Yet, somehow, in writing, I’ve found it impossible.

Perhaps … writing is not paint you can wash off at the end of the day, or a borrowed dress you put on for the shoot. It’s extremely personal.

Now to have some fun with travel...

What’s your favorite place you have visited?

This is an impossible question for me. I’ve been on the road since I was three. I’m easy going, and pretty happy just about anywhere I am. I can’t remember a place where there wasn’t something to love … or laugh at!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?
Lately, I’ve been thinking I should further explore Turkey. I went there once and loved it. Planned to go back and visit Goreme, in Cappadocia, and the ruins of Ani, near the Armenian border. 

Then war broke out … war was everywhere. I felt uneasy with the thought of traveling in certain places. It’s never left my heart though, so I must still be considering it.

And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located?

I would build a city and fill it with people who want to know more about God. Then I would ask Christian writers to set up camp, and make themselves useful. I’d called the city, Askersville.

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