From the age of four, Ki Longfellow knew what she wanted to be, a writer. Or a painter. Or the pilot of an experimental jet. Writing won. Born on Staten Island, New York, to a French-Irish mother and an Iroquois father, she grew up in Hawaii and Marin County, California, but ended up living in France and England for many years. She is the widow of a British national treasure, the complete artist Vivian Stanshall, who dreamed her name was Ki. As Ki Longfellow-Stanshall, she created and sailed the Thekla, a 180 foot Baltic Trader, to Bristol, England where it became the Old Profanity Showboat. It remains there today as a Bristol landmark. On it, she and Vivian wrote and staged a unique musical for the sheer joy of it. “Stinkfoot, a Comic Opera,” garnered a host of delighted, if slightly puzzled, national reviews. That musical is on its way to becoming a film.
Her first book, “China Blues,” was the subject of a bidding war. “China Blues,” and her second novel, “Chasing Women,” introduced Longfellow to Hollywood…a long hard but ultimately fascinating trip.
When Vivian died in 1995, Ki stopped writing, living on Standing Room Only Farm in Vermont. Time may not heal, but it tempers. Eventually Ki began writing again, but now her subject was the moment at age 19 that informed her life…a direct experience with the Divine. She chose the figure of the Magdalene to tell that tale in her novel “The Secret Magdalene.” Nancy Savoca, a brilliant independent film maker (winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize with her first film, “True Love”) traveled all the way to Vermont to option the book as her next film.
Ki’s second book about the Divine Feminine is “Flow Down Like Silver,” a novel about the numinous and gifted Hypatia of Alexandria, a tragically ignored woman of towering intellect who searched through intellect for what the Magdalene knew in her heart.
And recently, a huge departure from her all she’d written before, Longfellow found herself writing a tale of supernatural horror called “Houdini Heart.” This book has been selected by the Horror Writers of America as one of a handful of books being considered for their 2011 Bram Stoker Award.
She is now at work on the third and last book in her Divine Feminine series. Meant to be one thing, it’s become quite another thing. Writers may think they know what they’re going to write, but they can be very wrong.