I do not fit in anywhere or with any group. I have many friends of all economic tiers and working levels. I float amongst them, yet not without some level of not belonging.
I was blessed with a perfect partner for several decades. I utterly adored her. Yes even she, on a rather basic level could not understand me. She felt my many eccentricities as affects to garner attention. Luckily she read an article about a doctor who always dressed in a clown suit [he treated adult patients], as well as a woman who always dressed in 19th century garb.
Then she understood: We do not always choose these nonconformities; all too often, they choose us.
As a Jewish lesbian in the 60’s and 70’s – before even the women’s movement was in full bloom, I always felt a level of discomfort.
Except when I was in a group or on a date with an African American. [Think Amy Winehouse.] In this group I felt comfort and that I belonged. I was accepted with warmth and understanding.
As a sports fanatic growing up in Brookline, MA., I made scape books that were unlike those of the other girls. Mine were filled with pictures of the Celtics. Bill Russell was a particular hero of mine.
In other words, I identify myself as an outsider. And Lotus does too. She never felt she belonged with the other Vassar girls; for all her intelligence, she could not make full that social connection.
I have sought out opportunities to work with people of color. In community organizing under the guidance of Saul Alinsky and Roger Katan. I have joyfully studied the literature of African Americans when I convinced the president of Vassar College to hire a charismatic African American literature professor. I have studied the literature of African Americans. I found their largely neglected works the best of western literature.
So when I created Lotus, I was really putting on paper a large part of myself. I share with Lotus a great feeling of alienation from much of the rest of western society.
Further, at the risk of sounding presumptuous, have read—literally read cover to back—hundreds of mysteries. I have not found more than one or two (any, perhaps, for that matter) mysteries that cast a highly intelligent African American leading character. I wanted to share an example of the intelligent personage that stands in sharp contrast to this otherwise, and most unfair, slanted stereotypical styling of African Americans. And I also wanted to create a character that other women of color could call their own.
That is why my main character, Lotus Williams, is the way that she is. Because we all are.
Writing in Color
Lita Lepie on Character, Race,
and her Investment in Black Lotus
Black Lotus by Lita Lepie
"Possibly one of the most artful colloquial narratives of the past decade."
- E. Cohen
"My only criticism is that it wasn’t long enough..."
"...film noir in a book..."
"Awareness of race, gender and sexual orientation shades [Black Lotus] with great depth..."