Anyone here under fifty? Okay, WHO here claims to be a SENIOR CITIZEN?
These days–when people all around us are celebrating hundredth birthdays and beyond–I am befuddled about where senior citizenry begins.
Never mind, I’m enough beyond fifty to know I am an “SC” and also know I’m a late bloomer, since I’m not o
ne of those many authors who grin, and tell the interviewer (showing dimpled modesty), “Oh, I wrote my first book when I was six.”
My first book didn’t appear until I was fifty–exactly.
Oh, I did well in English in school, wrote bits for free that were published in local papers, even edited a college newspaper. But, writing to sell? Never occurred to me until about 1985, when my husband and I were getting ready to move to Spring Hollow in the Arkansas Ozarks. Truth be told, I loved the Ozarks so much I wanted to tell everyone about the place. I sold my first essay set here in 1986, and continued to sell articles and essays to magazines and newspapers regionally, nationally, and even internationally until the mid 90’s. That collection became my first book, the non-fiction “DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter From Spring Hollow,” published by Brett in New York.
When I looked around, wondering what to do next, I was offered a job researching and presenting a fifteen-minute weekly news program for an Arkansas radio station. While I was doing that (for ten years) I also began writing–for fun–a mystery novel who’s beginnings were set at a place called Blackberry Hollow, so much like the Spring Hollow of DEAR EARTH that the two were indistinguishable. (Write what you know.)
My main characters, Carrie McCrite and Henry King, are retirees. Their friends (and side-kicks in mystery solving) are definitely part of the “SC” crowd, but no wimps there, no grannies in rockers. They’re side-kicks who can be kick-butt ferocious when circumstances call for it. They rely on wit, knowledge of humans, and a genuine caring for others to solve crimes as serious as murder, and have been so successful that they’re still at it, seven books into the series relating their adventure stories.
Readers comment a lot on how much they like Carrie and her friends. “She seems so real,” is a frequent comment. And, y’know what? I think Radine being a senior citizen is part of the reason Carrie and Henry fans feel this way.
For you see, I’ve LIVED! I’ve been out in the world. I’ve watched, listened, interacted, and absorbed how humans feel, act, speak, and think. It doesn’t take overhearing a cell phone conversation for me to be aware of why people do what they do, feel as they feel. Being around on this earth for a decently long time does this for most of us. For me, and probably for most of you, living, experiencing, observing, and absorbing life is natural, even done without thinking about it.
That’s one of the beauties of being a late blooming writer. Carrie McCrite says she gets involved in helping solve crimes because she notices things. She sees people in trouble and reaches out to them when most folks want to run the other direction. She observes peculiarities when others look away. And, she attributes her interest in what’s going on around her to her own senior citizen status (whatever her age may be). She knows a lot about people, and often recognizes motivation, problems, and characteristics the young-uns don’t see.
In other words, being a problem solver can be an outgrowth of long living.
And, writing about problem solving as I do is a result of long living as well.
Don’t ask me Carrie’s age. I have learned readers tend to identify her age (and Henry’s and the others) as similar to whatever their’s is. So, my book people don’t tell their ages any more than I do mine. It’s sufficient to identify us as senior citizens which is, after all, a convenient term to use.