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A & E

LocalLit author spotlight: Larry Zoeller of Downers Grove

Larry Woods Zoeller of Downers Grove
Larry Woods Zoeller of Downers Grove

LocalLit is a new short story newsletter that connects local authors with local readers. The family-friendly newsletter kicked off in April. Each week a new short story by a local author is sent directly to subscribers email.

The featured short story on Sept. 11 is by Larry Woods Zoeller of Downers Grove. Recently Zoeller took a few minutes to speak via email with Herald-News features editor Denise M. Baran-Unland.

Baran-Unland: Tell us a bit about your writing background.

Zoeller: Got an MA in English literature while working as a speech writer in the Pentagon with the idea that I would teach and write fiction. But like many before me I found teaching paid too little to support a family so I ended up as a magazine editor and eventually a public affairs counselor in Washington, DC. In 1981, a job offer in Chicago brought us out here.All the while I was writing for others, I never lost the desire to write fiction and in my spare time wrote short stories, a novel and poetry. Upon retirement, I joined the Downers Grove Writers Workshop have finished two more novels as well as numerous short stories and poems.

Baran-Unland: What types of stories do you like to write?

Zoeller: I like history and a lot of it is centered, as this story is, around the area where I grew up, Martins Ferry, Ohio on the Ohio River just across from Wheeling, West Virginia and 60 miles from Pittsburgh. My family has a long history as pioneers and farmers there and it is an area of Appalachia where manufacturing, coal mining and farming all connect. My first novel followed the history of a farming family becoming involved with the gangsters and country music stars that were Wheeling, WVA's elite in the early 20th century. More recently I finished a World War II novel about code breaking based on my experiences in the Army Security Agency.

Baran-Unland: Give a one-line summary about your featured short story.

Zoeller: Laid off worker tries to regain his pride by digging his own water well with often humorous and near disastrous results.

Baran-Unland: Have you published any books and/or are you working on one now?

Zoeller: I haven't published except trade press articles, although I do have hopes for my code breaking novel. LocalLit will be my very first publication.

Baran-Unland: Where can people find more information about you?

Zoeller: I'm on Facebook and you can find me every second and fourth Monday evening of the month at the Downers Grove Writers Workshop meeting.

Editor's note: For more information about the Downers Grove Writers Workshop, visit


Each week LocalLit will deliver an original short and family-friendly story by a local author to the newsletter's subscribers.

Authors with a connection to our readership area may submit. Submission does not guarantee acceptance. Stories should be edited and between 1,000 words and 7,500 words.

In addition, featured authors will be spotlighted in publications before the newsletter runs so readers have time to sign up.

To submit and for more information, contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-280-4122 or

To sign up for the LocalLit newsletter and read Zoeller's story on Sept. 11, visit

To read about other LocalLit authors, visit

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