Loretta is the author of novels for young readers as well as the adult historical novel Stars Over Clear Lake, set during WW II in Iowa. She received her Master's Degree in Writing for Children from Hamline University, and teaches writing workshops across the country.
Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
Stars Over Clear Lake is a story set in Iowa during WW II. It’s about a farmer’s daughter whose father resorts to using German Prisoners of War from the nearby Algona POW camp to help with his farm while his son is in Europe fighting the Nazis. She gets to know a young German soldier, and falls in love with him, but after the war he is sent back to Germany and she doesn’t see him again until a few years later when she is engaged to someone else and he is playing in a band at the Surf Ballroom.
My own parents met at the Surf Ballroom shortly after the war, and this book is a tribute to ballrooms and all the people who fell in love there, as well as a story of the Midwest home front during WWII.
Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching, outlining, or planning before beginning a book?
I spent a great deal of time researching this story, both before I wrote it, and during the writing. I visited the Surf Ballroom, the Algona POW Museum, the Clear Lake History Center, and I interviewed relatives of German POWs as well as people who worked at the Algona Camp. I also interviewed people who went to the Surf Ballroom in the 1940s.
Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
Harper Lee is one of my favorite writers and I revisit To Kill a Mockingbird often. I even wrote a Middle Grade novel In Search of Mockingbird, about a girl who travels to Monroeville, Alabama, in search of her favorite author, Harper Lee.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy reading, and I play tennis in my spare time. I often teach at young writer workshops around the country. I also have ten grandchildren, and I spend a great deal of time with them.
Do you have a website or social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) where readers can learn more about your work?
I am on Twitter (@Lellsworth), Facebook (Loretta Ellsworth Author Page), and Instagram (lorettaellsworth_author).