Former resident pens novella

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Author J. Kirby Smith, formerly of Marshalltown, has penned his first novella entitled “Lovisa.” It is a love story set in Waterloo in the late 1960s.

J. Kirby Smith of Des Moines, formerly of Marshalltown, has taken a 32-year-old story concept and shaped it into his first published novella, entitled “Lovisa.”

The story centers around the lives of Lovisa and Derrick, two blue collar individuals living in Waterloo in the late 1960s. Smith is a native of that city.

When Smith first started writing the story, back in 1985, he pictured Lovisa as having all the positive traits he would look for in a woman.

“I was single when I wrote the story, looking for a woman I’d be compatible with, and decided to write a story about her,” Smith said.

The author got the name for his heroine from an unlikely place.

“Back in the late ’70s, I worked at a cemetery, and I saw the name Lovisa on a monument and liked the name,” he said.

Lovisa works as a hairdresser, while Derrick, recently out of the army, works as a foreman in a factory. The pair first meet at a baseball game and find instant compatibility. But Lovisa’s tumultuous relationship with her best friend Sue, plus a former beau re-entering her life, and battle with leukemia, add drama to the story of love, loss, friendship, support and compassion.

Smith said the character dynamics in the story make his book stand out from other romance novels and novellas.

“They have a total empathic love — supportive, thoughtful, tender and vast — something so unique today,” he said.

“Lovisa” is Smith’s second published work. In 2011, he penned a volume of poems entitled “Lyrical and Lovely Thoughts.”

“I’m retired now, and writing, especially poetry, is a hobby,” he said.

The novella is aimed at young adults, and while it deals with the couple’s romance, it does not contain explicit scenes.

“I like the story’s message and idealism,” he said. “They have great respect for each other.”

His books are available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Smith plans to conduct a series of regional book signings, at a time to be determined.