Lori Oestreich - Sweeping Historical Events, Economic Challenges and Familial Pressures About Religion
Lori Oestreich's 1930s romance debut novel "Darling, All My Love" entwines historical events into the emotional lives of two characters based on her grandparents. Lori makes her home in Wisconsin, where she and her husband raised three daughters and are now enjoying an empty nest. When she's not creating stories, she's either reading, walking her rescue dog Charlie, gardening, or spending time with family (including her five grandchildren) and friends. As our Author of the Day, she tells us about her book, Darling, All My Love.
Please give us a short introduction to what Darling, All My Love is about.
Darling, All My Love is a historical romance of impossible love inspired by the author’s family history. At a time when we all need hope for overcoming obstacles, this novel delivers the essential happily ever after. Readers are taken back to a time in rural 1930s America during the depression. The author combines sweeping historical events, economic challenges, and familial pressures about religion in an irresistibly sweet romance that is too beautiful not to be real.
What inspired you to write about a Catholic woman from the wrong sides of the tracks who meets a Presbyterian heir?
After both my grandparents passed, I read almost three hundred and seventy letters my grandfather had written to my grandmother while they were apart. The letters gave me a sense of how much he loved her and the difficulties they endured. I also learned about his interests, everyday life, and historical details from the 1930s. His letters and the knowledge of their love story inspired me to write the romance novel.
This is your debut romance novel. What has the experience been like so far?
I love reading, but creating a story was an entirely different process. Who would have thought there were actual rules I needed to follow in writing a romance beyond boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, and they live happily ever after? Learning the craft of writing and creating a story the reader expects became my focus. I entered my work in several contests, joined a romance writing group, and attended conferences. Additionally, I studied multiple writing technique books and gained valuable information. My journey has been both enjoyable and challenging. I’m happy my debut novel is out in the world.
Why did you pick a 1930s Midwestern town as the backdrop for your story?
I chose the setting because the city is where my grandparents lived.
How much research did this require from you to make the history ring true? What was the most interesting aspect of this research?
Intertwining the backstory of my grandparents with the fictional characters of Lily and Benjamin was the most challenging. I knew when my grandparents met, they were both engaged to other people. He was a wealthy Presbyterian man and she was a poor Catholic woman. They were not an acceptable couple in society nor within their families to marry in 1933. I’m certain their relationship had been a difficult one for those reasons, and there was a time they were apart because of it. All the other details in between were creatively written. The most interesting aspect was finding historical events that would work with the true story of my grandparents. At times I didn’t know if I would find the ideal pieces of history, but when I did, everything fell into place.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
In the 1980s, when computers first became available for home use, I took a class at a technical school. I’ve continued learning new programs ever since, and my computer is invaluable. I use it while researching on the internet, writing my novels, and tracking plots, characters, timelines, and more.
Tell us more about Lily Vanderhoof. What makes her so special?
Lily’s special because she is a strong woman. I incorporated some true stories my grandmother did. She was the first woman to wear pants in school when all the other girls wore dresses. Climbed a water tower in the middle of town and belonged to the girl’s athletic association in school.
What makes Benjamin Claussen such a great love interest?
The letters in the novel are a testament to my grandfather’s feelings for my grandmother. Readers will get a sense of how much he fell in love with my grandmother. Some of the words/phrases are the actual ones he wrote. The letters were addressed “Darling” and signed with “All My Love.” I thought the title was perfect for the 1930s era and an honorable tribute to my grandfather.
Clashing beliefs are a major theme in this book. Why was this important to you to write about?
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I enjoy lighting a candle while I write. If I’m stuck on a scene, I’ll go for a walk with my dog and listen to love songs. I’ve also created a writer’s block, which I can roll. Whatever story part it lands on is what I need to work on in the scene. The framed photo is my grandmother and the picture I used on the cover of my novel.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on the second book in the series - A 1930s Hub City Romance. My characters, Drew and Rose, are traveling on a train to Hub City. They will face societal pressures that force them to question their future.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
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