How did you decide on the name of the book?
“All on Account of You” is the title of a song my dad wrote for my mom before they got married. He played the piano every day while we were growing up, especially the love songs of the 1940s. I wanted to make sure readers knew that this was a true story, and that it took place during World War II, so I included these two elements in the sub-title.
What inspired you to write it?
In response to Captured Words, a family friend, Dr. Bill Peterson, suggested that I write a biography of my father. My father was an extraordinary man, and I was intrigued. Circumstances were such that a few days later, my mother happened to bring out her album of love letters that my father had written to her during WWII.
I had read bits and pieces of them before, but this time as I read letter after letter, I realized not only how incredibly romantic they were, but what an important part of history letters like his were. During wartime, it was the letters that kept couples together and cemented their relationships in the face of so many uncertainties.
I asked my mother if she was willing to share his letters with the world and, without hesitation, she agreed. As I began to transcribe them, I found myself drawn more and more into my parents’ story. I realized that his story was told through the letters, but her perspective was needed to thread them together. I started with some initial memoirs my mother had written, and interviewed her to fill in the rest of the story.
How long did it take you?
It took two years altogether. Over a period of six months, I transcribed the letters and put together a basic draft of the book. I put the undated letters in chronological order based on clues in the letters, which was a time-consuming process. It took a year to write the memoir text, and six more months to edit it and select and scan the pictures, keepsakes, and cover elements.
Why didn’t you include any letters from your mom to your dad?
My mother doesn’t recall what happened to them—none of hers were found. My grandmother saved the letters from my mother, so we do have correspondences from my mother to her family from that time period.
What influenced the design of the book?
Early on, I scanned some of the letters, envelopes, and my dad’s Navy record, and as soon as I saw the result, I knew that image had to go on the cover. Graphic artist, Laura Taylor, had the idea to scan the fabric, braid, and stars from my dad’s Navy yearbook, The Sideboy, and to incorporate them into the cover design. We were fortunate to have my dad’s Navy photo and a professional picture of my mother from the same time period to use on the back cover.
Megan Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Design Studio designed the interior of the book. She came up with the idea of using different seals, popular graphical elements from the 1940s, for each chapter. In one of Dad’s letters, he mentioned that the men of the U.S.S. Prairie State, the ship on which he trained, were to be featured in the March 28th, 1942 issue of Collier’s magazine. Out of curiosity, I started searching for a copy on the Internet. It took me a full year, but I found one online and purchased it. When I saw the period ads and cartoons, I knew I had to add them to the book to further evoke the era.