Early in 2007, Martha Fitzgerald had her parents’ nearly 800 courtship letters transcribed, and she and her father, Dr. Joe Holoubek, began editing them together. They planned an abridged compilation of the collection, for the many readers of his 2004 award-winning novel Letters to Luke. Dr. Joe wrote the first draft of a prologue. Set in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1937, it recounted how he and his future wife, senior medical students from Omaha and New Orleans, met at Mayo Clinic.

For several months, Fitzgerald, a veteran journalist, probed his memory further and drew out more details. Where did they live that summer? she asked. How did they dress and what kind of car did he drive? What did he say that so quickly piqued the interest of the girl from Louisiana?

In answer to my questions, he unearthed a treasure I hadn’t known existed: a five-year diary he kept during his medical training. It later proved invaluable in verifying facts and fleshing out the storyline of a summer seventy years past.

The Courtship of Two Doctors: A 1930s Love Story of Letters, Hope & Healing comprises that prologue and excerpts from roughly 300 letters. It will be released August 15, 2012, by Little Dove Press.