Q & A with T.I. Lowe, Author of Indigo Isle
T. I. Lowe is an ordinary country girl who loves to tell extraordinary stories. She is the author of
nearly twenty published novels, including her recent bestselling and critically acclaimed
novel Under the Magnolias and her debut breakout, Lulu’s Café. She lives with her husband and family in coastal South Carolina. Find her at tilowe.com or on Facebook (T.I.Lowe), Instagram(tilowe), and Twitter (@TiLowe).
1. Indigo Isle has been described as Prodigal Daughter meets Beauty and the Beast. Why did you choose to write a story with similarities to these two stories?
Both intrigue me. I can definitely identify with both, but who can’t, right? I’m damaged like the beast. I recently lost my sister unexpectedly and then several valleys followed. I know the hurt and wanting to just erect walls and hide, but I also know that’s not healthy. I am also a Prodigal Daughter, most days actually. Seriously, I’m an absolute disaster, but I’m so relieved to know I can make a U-turn and my Savior is there waiting to celebrate my return.
2. What was your inspiration for the setting of the story?
Honey, the South is so full of folklore and romance. Why not set it in my home state?
3. One of the main characters in the story, Hudson Renfrow, is an indigo farmer. Why did you choose to talk about indigo farming in this story?
Indigo is an important part of South Carolina history in the Lowcountry. I like the idea of learning through my stories and this part of my state’s history allowed me to do just that.
4. You actually visited an indigo farm while writing this story. Can you talk about that experience? What was your favorite part?
Oh, wow . . . Truly, one of the best experiences I’ve been blessed to partake in. I loved it from start to finish. My friend Vicki and I started the day collecting indigo leaves, placing them in a mason jar with water, and then, while the jars steeped in boiling pots to extract the dye, we were educated on the plant and its history in our state. Hands-on education at its finest. Then we spent the afternoon learning the art of shibori, folding silk scarves and dying them
with the dark-blue dye we extracted from the leaves. I’m in awe over that experience!
5. Sonny Bates, the female lead in the story, is a Hollywood location scout. Why did you make this Sonny’s occupation?
Lots of times I’ve read where the “prodigal” character is famous. I like that but wanted Sonny to be more relatable. Because we all cannot be famous, but we can all be prodigals. Also, what happens to Sonny can happen to anyone. I want readers to know this and that it’s not right.
6. Given the occupations of the main characters in the story, you had to do a lot of research. Can you tell us what your research process was like?
It looked like hours upon hours on YouTube! I crack the joke often that I attend the University of YouTube, but I seriously do! Research is the most rewarding part of my writing “job.” I put quotations marks here because this has never felt like a job but an outright blessing.
7. You say that you allow the story to tell itself as you write. What do you mean by that?
I don’t really outline. Never do I want to put restrictions on the story that needs to be told. Who knows what direction the story will lead me from day to day? I like the freedom of letting it tell me and me, not strong-arming it into a fictional formula. There ain’t no fun in that. Not for me anyway.
8. What is your favorite characteristic of Hudson Renfrow, the Monster of Indigo Isle? What frustrates you about Hudson?
I’m not gonna lie—I had a blast with Hudson. He is not your typical hero. So many times the “grumpy” turns soft too easily in stories. Not my Hudson. That dang man was stubborn to a fault! I liked that he didn’t give in to Sonny right away. He frustrated me much like I frustrate myself. I feel unworthy, unlovable, and unredeemable every day. I’m my own
worst enemy. Hudson Renfrow is too.
9. What is your favorite characteristic of Sonny Bates? What frustrates you about Sonny?
Oh, Sonny. That chick marched to the beat of her own drum. If I don’t accomplish anything else in this writing journey, I truly hope I accomplish showing readers it’s perfectly okay to do this. Sonny is flawed, but she genuinely has a good heart. Don’t let the world beat you down to the point you can’t see that in yourself. I fear most of us don’t get this. Sonny frustrated me in the same sense. She didn’t believe God could clean up her tarnished heart.
10. What is one thing you hope readers walk away with after having read Indigo Isle?
“Man, that ole country hick sure can tell a story!” LOL. Seriously, though, I hope readers realize their own stories are continuing until their last breath. Make it count!
Indigo Isle by T. I. Lowe
ISBN 978-1-4964-6559-7 | Hardcover: $26.99
ISBN 978-1-4964-6560-3 | Softcover: $16.99
June 2023 |Tyndale.com