Power of the Pen; Author of ‘Stars Over Clear Lake’ shares love of writing

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Standing in front of a writer’s circle, Loretta Ellsworth shares what she knows with fellow creatives on Tuesday morning.

Inside the Austin Public Library, about 10 people gathered to receive advice and swap ideas with the author of “Stars Over Clear Lake,” the 2019 Austin Page Turners Citywide Book Read selection. There, each person was able to talk to Ellsworth about the creative writing process, and fine tune some of their own writing skills.

Not only did the Lakeville resident and Mason City, Iowa native host a writer’s workshop, she visited Austin High School and held a community-wide event at the library last night. There, Ellsworth was able to transport readers on a journey about romance and mystery involving the famed Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Author Loretta Ellsworth, center, listens as attendees to her writing workshop introduce themselves and relate their motives for being at the workship.

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For some, meeting Ellsworth and having the actual writer whose work is featured for the city-wide book read was an additional layer of experiences for the community.

“It’s a great thrill for me,” said Peggy Benzkofer, an Austin Page Turners member.

Community-wide book reads are becoming more common. From Ellsworth’s perspective, she sees an increasing number of cities such as Lakeville and Farmington implementing their own book reads, an encouraging sight of different people having conversations with each other over a common interest.

“It brings communities together,” she said. “You see people having interactions of all ages whether they’re seniors or students. It’s thrilling as an author. You don’t need a huge budget for a community-wide book read. To have my book as a community-wide read in Austin is thrilling.”

Coming together

Writing “Stars Over Clear Lake” was the first adult novel that Ellsworth ventured into during her writing career. She previously penned young adult fiction books such as “The Shrouding Woman” in 2002 and “In Search of Mockingbird” back in 2010.

Putting together any book requires research, and for “Stars Over Clear Lake,” Ellsworth was challenged in some aspects such as the storytelling through flashbacks and transitioning between the past and present day in the narrative style. Having received inspiration from how her own parents met in the vibrant Surf Ballroom and danced to the big bands that played there, Ellsworth didn’t have to look far for the perfect stage.

Author Loretta Ellsworth listens to an attendee to her writing workshop Tuesday morning at the Austin Public Library.

“All books require research,” she said. “The thing about real places is that all of your research must be accurate. I feel a responsibility to make things as real and true as it can be. The research forms the plot of the novel.”

That research resulted in the story taking place during World War II and the little-known POW camps that were in Iowa at the time. There was also a fire that occurred in the Surf Ballroom, a true event in which the cause was never discovered.

While the story of love and mystery entices readers to pick up a copy of Ellsworth’s book, she thanked the Austin Page Turners for promoting her work and for featuring local Minnesota writers as part of the community-wide initiative to read books together.

“I wanted to let them know how appreciative I am for them choosing my book,” she said. “It makes a difference when your book is promoted and shared with the community. It means so much.”