Lois Kennis

Why I Started Writing:

I’ve always loved to read. I inherited this respectable addiction from my mother, a stay-at-home mom in the 1950s who read me all the wonderful books I craved. And I grew up loving the scent of ink and newsprint. My father—a newspaperman who operated the old Guttenberg Linotype and Letterpress equipment—couldn’t drive into a small town on family vacation without stopping to tour the local print shop and chat with its owner. With ink in my veins and a pen in hand, I transitioned organically into a love of writing.

For years as an adult, I wrote feature stories and designed ads to promote small, independent women’s businesses. The work was satisfying, combining words and pictures to help entrepreneurs share their encouraging stories. Then, at age fifty, after domestic upheaval that led me to a series of women’s shelters, I determined to finish the college education I’d begun almost thirty years prior. This time around, I took courses in the field I wanted to study, rather than settle on what seemed pragmatic. In creative writing, I immediately felt at home and soon admitted I wanted to write realistic fiction with heart and hope.

My first novel began while I inhabited a quaint cottage with a screen porch that overlooked the bank of Bear Creek where otters, blue herons, and eagles fished and cavorted. The breathtaking natural beauty in my back yard called me to write as an outpouring of gratitude to God for giving me a second chance in life. I write to stir the hearts of seekers and fortify the souls of believers.

Authors Who Have Influenced Me:

Growing up, I cherished Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Oliver Twist, The Diary of Anne Frank, and other classics. I appreciate novels that address injustice, such as Black Beauty and The Grapes of Wrath. As an adult, the Little House on the Prairie series continues to warm my heart.

I enjoy books that face difficulty and lift the spirit. A few of my favorite 21st century novels are Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, and The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle. I also love Buck Storm’s quirky novels, such as Truck Stop Jesus and The Miracle Man. All these works are filled with laughter, tears, hope, and lovely little insights into human character.

Books I Have Written:

My first book started as a children’s story named Homeless on Eagle Creek. But as I wrote, the story grew, and the characters matured into a novel for grownups, titled Rise on Eagle’s Wings.

When I met my inspiration for the main character in Rise on Eagle’s Wings, she was a teenage mother with two children, separated from her husband and working at a rustic campground. Her strength, tenacity, and love for her children astounded me. My novel’s protagonist, Talitha, is fictional, and the details of her life are entirely different from the teen mom I met years ago. But I’ve long remembered the courage of that young lady at the campground and desired to share her spirit with readers.

Another woman entered my life for a brief time and deeply touched my heart. She was a praying woman, a refugee of the Liberian civil war that ravished her country from 1989-2003. “Miss Ella,” as she is named in the novel, had witnessed her husband and daughter killed when rebels attacked their village. Like Talitha, the details of her life are fictional, but the golden nugget of who Miss Ella was—her grief united with her transforming faith—is genuine.

I dedicate Rise on Eagle’s Wings to all the struggling young mothers of this world who bravely strive to make a better life for their children, and to the Miss Ella’s of this world who reach out to others with the helping hands and the gracious hearts of Jesus.

What I'm Working On Now:

Ideas are germinating. I’m prayerfully considering two novels to follow my first in a series called “Eagle Creek.” Books two and three would each be set in a time period beginning a decade later than the previous book. I hope and pray that my second and third novels won’t each require a decade of writing.

I’m also exploring ideas for a nonfiction magazine article about life-changing events that brought me closer to God.

Lois Kennis

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