Writing a novel is an individual journey that requires imagination, patience and a whole lot of free time. For some, it takes a matter of months; for others, the process takes years. For Ellicott City resident and novelist Loree Lough, it took 20 years — to write more than 100 books.
Lough began writing in her 30s by contributing to a neighborhood newspaper. She made the leap from journalism to creative writing in 1993, and her first novel, published in August 1994, won a readers’ choice award for best contemporary romance of the year from Barbour Publishing.
“There was a pretty quick succession after that,” she says. “[I wrote] approximately five books a year.”
Even after 104 books, Lough says she doesn’t get bored with writing fiction.
“Some of the things I liked best about nonfiction were the interviews and the research, and that’s required of novels, too,” she says. “It keeps me interested because no matter what I’m writing … [I] need to give the characters enough [detail] to make them real people.”
Lough moved to Howard County with her husband in 1978.
“Even though I was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Illinois, [Howard County] has been home right from the get-go,” she says. “It just felt like the right place for us all along. This is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere.”
Over the years, Lough has taught numerous classes and seminars on fiction at Howard Community College. The county and its surrounding areas have also inspired much of her work.
“I can’t count how many novels are set in Ellicott City or Baltimore,” she says.
“Devoted to Drew,” for instance, tells the story of a widowed Ellicott City mother with an autistic child who meets a former football star with an autistic newphew and becomes inspired to build a school for children on the autism spectrum.
Lough also engages in the community. She donates regularly to organizations such as Pathfinders for Autism and the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania.
“About a quarter of my income in a given year goes to these various charities,” Lough explains.
Friends, family and readers respect her generosity as well as her skill with the pen. Fellow author Sandra Bricker, a longtime friend of Lough’s, has read more than a dozen of her books.
“Great storytelling thrills me, and Loree is a natural storyteller,” Bricker says. “I remember noticing right away how adept she was at painting a picture with minimal text.”
Bricker also admires how Lough takes the time to get to know her audience.
“She’s one of those authors who really likes her readers,” Bricker says. “Loree builds relationships with them. … They come to know and love her because she’s so warm and authentic, and that goes a long, long way. She really stands out because of it.”
Lough was to release her 103rd and 104th books on New Year’s Day. Her new releases are “Currency of the Heart,” a historical novel set in Denver in 1883, and “Once a Marine,” a contemporary novel set in Vail, Colo.