Meet Rochelle

Rochelle Distelheim, an award-winning short story writer and Chicago native, will release her debut novel, Sadie In Love (Aubade Publishing), on May 31, 2018.

Rochelle, who describes language and writing as her “oxygen,” has earned numerous short story literary awards, including The Katherine Anne Porter Prize; Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and Fellowships; The Ragdale Foundation Fellowships; The Faulkner Society Gold Medal in Novel; The Gival Press 2017 Short Story Competition; Finalist, Glimmer Train’s Emerging Writers; and The Salamander Second Prize in Short Story. In addition, Rochelle’s short stories have earned nominations for The Best American Short Stories and The PushCart Press Prize.

As early as grade school, a ten year-old Rochelle knew that some day she would write a novel. Eight decades later, with the release of Sadie in Love, that dream has come true.

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Rochelle honed her skills writing for her school newspapers from grade school onward to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree, and wrote a column about college life for the local newspaper. After college, Rochelle worked in advertising. Later, married and raising three children, she continued writing short stories and opinion pieces. Always eager to improve her craft, Rochelle joined a weekly writers’ workshop that she still attends. This was the 60’s, a decade of change. The Women’s Movement was gaining momentum, and the National Organization for Women was formed. After attending NOW’s first meeting in the Chicago suburbs, and raising her hand a few times too many, she was elected President. Empowered, and eager to be published, Rochelle convinced the editor of her suburban newspaper to let her write a weekly column, “The Liberated Woman.” In addition, Rochelle wrote satirical “Liberated Women-themed” poems, many of which were published in national magazines.

In the 70’s, Rochelle returned to school and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois. Shortly thereafter, she sold a story to McCall’s Magazine, catching the attention of one of McCall’s non-fiction editors. Soon Rochelle was flying around the country covering a wide range of “women’s stories” for McCall’s and other national magazines, such as Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Glamour, Working Woman, and Working Mother.

Prior to Aubade’s purchase of Sadie in Love, Joyce and Byrne Piven, co-Directors of The Piven Theater in Evanston, Illinois, created a musical theater piece, Love Knots, based on Rochelle’s novel. Love Knots ran every weekend for an entire summer to standing-room-only audiences.

Rochelle lives in Highland Park and has three adult daughters. She loves the theatre, ballet, and owned an art gallery, The Distelheim Galleries, on Oak Street in Chicago with her late husband.