Lulu’s Café by T.I. Lowe deals with issues that are sometimes difficult to discuss and shows one woman’s journey toward healing and love. In this exclusive interview with T.I. Lowe, discover what she said about why it’s important for readers to read Christian fiction that deals with issues portrayed in Lulu’s Café.
Your novel Lulu’s Café deals with issues such as domestic abuse, domestic violence, grief, and loss. These are weighty topics that readers don’t always encounter in Christian romance novels. Why do you think it’s important for readers to read Christian fiction that deals with these issues?
No matter the genre, those topics are relevant to everyone, but they need to be addressed from a Christian perspective. I’ve had several readers contact me or leave reviews, sharing how my books were relatable. Many have shared their personal stories (devastating stories in some cases) with me and how they fell away from their faith during those dark times. It never ceases to make my heart warm and give me goose bumps when they say that through my stories, they have found their way back to God.
In the novel, Leah Allen has been scarred both physically and emotionally. She eventually begins to heal and overcome her past. How do you hope Leah’s story will inspire women who read the novel?
Leah represents every abandoned child and every abused woman. She has a big role to fill, yes, but it was such an important one to take on. The world can feel hopeless in these situations, so Leah has to show women to never give up and to seek help. To lean on those who cross your path and offer support. Leah also shows the need for more women to step up and be support systems to those who have been victims of abuse. I encourage you to look into local organizations that support abused women and make a commitment to support them through volunteering and donations. Just this week, I visited a local group home that helps unwed mothers get back on their feet, bringing simple items such as washing detergent, toilet paper, dish liquid, and a couple copies of my books. It wasn’t much, but it doesn’t have to be. We can all help!
Though it does deal with topics that are sometimes difficult to discuss, Lulu’s Café is also a love story between Leah Allen and Crowley Mason. Tell us a little bit about their story and why they make a perfect couple.
It was a slow progression for them to get to that love connection, but Leah needed quite a bit of time to heal, both physically and emotionally, before even considering another relationship with a man. A friendship was formed first, so their relationship had a firm foundation to build upon. However, Leah struggled with opening up to Crowley and he struggled to understand why, but the Southern gentleman didn’t give up on her. The patience and compassion he so freely gave to Leah was exactly what the fragile woman needed.
Why do you think it’s important for readers to read Lulu’s Café and Leah Allen’s story even if they themselves have never experienced the kinds of pain and grief Leah has experienced?
I want readers who are untouched by domestic abuse to be more aware and to be willing to reach out to those in need. We need to take off our blinders and not judge someone by their surface reflection and lifestyle choices. You never know what is behind it. Instead, be empathetic and more willing to show compassion. The “local hens” in the book represent those quick to judge. I sure enjoyed when Crowley set them straight!
While writing, how did you find the right balance of romance and pain in Leah’s story?
I took the opportunity to show a more delicate side of romance in Lulu’s Café. It was what Leah needed, and Crowley Mason was the perfect hero to deliver this. He showed her through tender caresses, simply holding hands, and even going as far as asking permission to kiss her that touch was meant to be a gift of giving and not a cruel act of taking. I enjoyed weaving little sweet moments into the story for them. Subtlety was necessary, because I wanted to make sure her journey to overcome abuse was never downplayed. Realistically, a flirty encounter or a sweet kiss cannot erase something as severely devastating as what Leah endured before meeting Crowley. I had to diligently stay in her head while their relationship developed, always questioning how she would react to him reaching out to her too quickly or how she would constantly be questioning his intentions. A lot of trust had to be built. It was challenging, yet so rewarding to see it all finally come together.
Just for fun: Do you have a favorite scene in Lulu’s Café or is there one that stands out to you as the scene you had the most fun writing?
Crowley and Leah’s water/mud fight, which was interrupted by that pesky snake! It was so much fun to write. They needed a silly moment to help balance all the heavy they were wading through (pun intended . . . they were goofing off at the river in that scene). Humor is my go-to in life when it’s getting too heavy, so I like to sprinkle it throughout my books for readers to enjoy with me.
Lulu’s Cafe by T.I. Lowe
“T. I. Lowe has crafted a terrific novel with characters to root for. This author is one to watch!” —Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of The Masterpiece
When a damaged young woman is given a chance to reclaim her life in a small South Carolina town, she must reckon with the dark secrets she left behind in order to accept the love she deserves.
On the run from a violent past, Leah Allen arrived in tiny Rivertown, South Carolina, battered and broken, but ready to reinvent herself. By a stroke of fate, Leah is drawn to the Southern hospitality of a small café, looking for a warm meal but finding so much more. Lulu, the owner, offers her a job, a place to stay and a new lease on life. Through Lulu’s tenacious warmth and generosity, Leah quickly finds herself embraced by the quaint community as she tries to put herself back together. Given she’s accustomed to cruelty, the kindness is overwhelming.
Soon Leah meets Crowley Mason, the most eligible bachelor in town. A lawyer and friend of Lulu’s, Crowley is wary of Leah’s sudden, mysterious arrival. Despite his reserve, something sparks between them that can’t be denied. But after all she’s been through, can Leah allow herself to truly love and be loved, especially when her first urge is to run?
Exploring the resiliency of both the heart and the spirit, Lulu’s Café gorgeously illustrates how old scars can finally heal no matter how deep they seem.