Moral fiction: Silverton author explores her own worlds of wonder

September 2019 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, Community, People

Lisa Lowell

By Nancy Jennings

Silverton is known for its majestic waterfalls and extensive artistic community. Among those artists is author Lisa Lowell. She was raised in a large family of creative, imaginative types. Her maternal grandmother wrote for a newspaper and her paternal grandmother wrote poems.

Lowell, 51, found her love of writing instilled by both grandmothers when she was the tender age of five. She recalls pounding out the “sticking keys” of one grandmother’s vintage pre-electric typewriter to write a poem. Raised with four siblings, and several foster siblings, the creative flow in their house knew no bounds.

“Everybody in my family creates. My mom used to line the halls with paper, so we wouldn’t scribble on the walls,” she said. “Art was by nature, the family. But words to me were a lot more expressive than colors.”

Her younger sister, Paula Litchfield, illustrates her books – which are classified in the Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre.

Lowell, a third-generation Oregonian, and her husband, Pat, have lived in Silverton for 15 years, and have three grown children. She said she does most of her writing during the summertime, when she gets time away from being a teacher at Molalla River Middle School. She has three published books: Talismans, Ley Lines and Life Giver. Six other books have been accepted for publication.

While her latest book, Life Giver, was released this year, the first book of her “Wise Ones” series was penned when she was just 16. Being a shy teen, Lowell lived vicariously through the characters she created who would tackle life’s roadblocks – and become victorious.

She placed herself (along with her own insecurities) into the characters, and would ask: “What would turn her into a queen worthy of living in a palace and being powerful? I needed magic in order to do that… so fantasy came naturally that way,” she explained. “I needed to expose my character to different scary things in the world.”

All Lowell’s storytelling contains a prevailing theme of “moral fiction,” wherein the characters are accountable and use magic only for good causes. “It’s clean enough for a kid to read. It’s rated ‘PG’ at most. In the stories, you can’t take on the magic until you’re an adult – and can do it on your own choice.” Some characters even refuse the “burden of using magic.”

Her books can be enjoyed as a series or a standalone read.

Away from her writing, she teaches English, English as a Second Language (ESL), and Sign Language. Last year, she was thrilled to offer her first “Sci-Fi/Fantasy” writing class due to
the principal’s request for the teachers to select an elective class. Her choice was not only easy, it provided her students a platform to practice creative writing and develop confidence.

“The year I got published in 2016, my principal walked into my classroom holding my book and said, ‘I need this signed, Mrs. Lowell.’ That was the first time the kids recognized I was really an author,” she smiled.

Lowell said writers can be classified into two camps, depending on how they process their storytelling. “‘Pantsers’ fly by the seat of their pants,’ and ‘Plotters,’ must have everything planned out with Post-It notes. I’m more of a ‘Pantser’ because I have a protagonist with a character flaw, and I want them to change when they get to the end. I know what the end is – and I want them to become a better person when they reach it,” she explained.

Her advice for aspiring writers?

“Write constantly… it should be like breathing to you. Generating ideas for your characters are the most difficult piece of writing. If you can’t come up with ideas for yourself, how are you going to come up with ideas for them?” she said. “I think of them as living people.”

Then comes the time to share what you’ve written with others, who can provide honest, constructive feedback.

“I recommend you read your story aloud to someone or a ‘beta reader,’ a person who loves the genre (and you) but are willing to say ‘uh, uh. You lost me here. I’m confused.’”

Lowell’s next book signing event will be the Columbia Gorge Book Festival on Oct. 5 in The Dalles.

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