Good morning, I’m Audrey, an Idaho housewife. I live on a soybean and hops farm in rural Idaho eighteen miles out of town and only recently met this author. Her name is Gail Cushman and she’s a piece of work. I’m over sixty-five years old and I was perfectly happy with my life until she sent me on a month-long cruise to Portugal. It wasn’t enough that she took me out of my comfort zone, but she also introduced me to a seventy-year-old dreamboat named Logan, a podiatrist with a foot fetish and insists that I have the prettiest feet around. Gail caused me to second-guess Griff, my husband of nearly fifty years, and now she has written four books about me, Griff, Logan, and a group of other seventy-year-olds who are looking for adventure in their golden years. Gail’s books are laugh-out-loud funny with adventurous quirks. I’ve heard Gail talking about adding books to the series, so I’m looking forward to a boat trip down the Erie Canal and a romantic trip to Paris. Ooh-la-la!
Gail is a people watcher who sees humor in every part of everyday life. She brings those observations and humor in each of her novels. Gail’s background includes Marine Corps service during Vietnam, teaching high school, being a high school principal, and director of education for the Idaho State Department of Correction. She has always lived in small towns and identifies with the day-to-day lives of plain, ordinary people living and loving in their communities.
- Without giving us spoilers introduce your latest and greatest novel or work in progress and let us know which it is and if it’s a WIP let us know when it goes live.
Wrinkly Bits Flash of Time is a WIP and will go live this fall.
In the fourth Wrinkly Bits novel, Audrey and gang head off to a high-end senior community in Florida called the Haciendas where they continue their avant-garde activities and head off to the beach, a nude beach. They are all over sixty-five years old and figure “why not?” After all, it’s an adventure that they will probably never see again, but senior citizens on a nude beach is fraught with wide-eyed excitement especially when they arrive at the wrong beach. A couple characters, Clare and Lynnie, tackle online dating, trying to find love while avoiding pitfalls.
- What do you like best about your main character in your latest and greatest or WIP from above?
My favorite character in my series is Audrey, a rural Idaho housewife. She is retired, but worked part time, puts up with her over-bearing husband Griff, and longed for adventure in her retirement. She is pretty and energetic and wants more from life than her daily walks through a soybean field and reading. Griff loves her but is more interested in sex than enriching their lives with adventures. When Griff decides they should go on a cruise, she runs into Logan and her life opens up to see all the adventure that awaits her.
- Tell us a little about one of your side characters from your latest and greatest or WIP?
Phyllis is a retired teacher with energy and interests galore. She loves to travel, and she and her husband Gus have taken many cruises since they retired. They had no children but stayed involved with the students they taught. She instigates adventures for all, loves to laugh, and is often the center of attention.
- How did you come up with your idea for the above story?
When my daughter reminded me to “write what you know,” she mentioned cruises and being old.” I growled a bit but realized the potential for fun-loving romances and hopped on that bus and began writing about retired folks having adventures on cruises and other types of travel. The stories include some truth, some fiction, and a lot of fun.
- What was your writing plan for this book or WIP?
I planned four books in this series Cruise Time, Out of Time, Wasting Time, and my WIP Flash of Time. They tell the stories of six rural Idaho people all of whom go off on hijinks looking for the next adventure. My readers are often retired, in their seventies, and I want to introduce readers to themselves, getting out, doing things, having adventures, and loving life. Speaking for myself, time passes quickly and how much time does a seventy-six-year-old person have? I’m not getting healthier and I’m not getting younger, so the time for an adventure is today!
- How do you handle writers block?
I’ve written since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but I have written for possible publication only in the past twenty years and so far, I haven’t had writer’s block. There are so many exciting things going on in my life and the world that I can’t be bothered by thinking about what’s not there. I have the opposite problem: Writer’s Gush, too many stories flowing out my fingertips. When I see something, anything, I see a story, but sometimes I have to put it on hold until a later time. This is where my Wrinkly Bits blogs kick in. I can plug the “anything” into a story and post it on Facebook or another site. The first hundred blogs of the nearly three hundred are available in my book Bits of Time. At age seventy-six, I don’t have time to write all the stories that flow through my fingers.
- Do you have a secret writing ritual and what is it?
There is no secret to my writing, other than writing daily and enjoying what I do. I write every day, often six or seven hours. I currently have three WIP’s, Flash of Time, Murder in the Diocese, a mystery, and Widows and Widowers, Dancing with a New Partner, a combo love story and how-to book about online dating for senior citizens, co-authored by my significant other, Cowboy Bob. My blog writing keeps me on target, and I work on blogs almost every day. They are two-minute reads, in the guise of Erma Bombeck, Seinfeld, or Paul Harvey, basically about nothing except the ups and downs of everyday life. My readers are very generous with their comments, and when I miss a deadline, I often receive texts or emails inquiring about my health. My followers identify with my blogs, whether they are about nostalgia, technology, aches and pains of aging, or getting on with life. I love hearing from my many readers.
- What is your writing snack?
Easy question: water and coffee. I’m always on some kind of diet, but no matter the diet, they include water. Coffee is one of the essential food groups, so that gets a nod, too. I stay away from carbs because I might as well paste them on my body, eliminating the digestive system as being the middleman.
- What do you do when you’re not writing?
I love adventures and Cowboy Bob, a real Montana cowboy, and I take off for adventure as often as we can. In the past year we have traveled over twenty-five states and half a dozen countries in the past year. We have a list of to goes” as well as a daily list of to do’s The most difficult part of our list is deciding which to do first. Next year, Paris and the Erie Canal are on the list, but a trip through the Panama Canal sounds inviting as does a railroad trip across Canada. We’ll figure it out!
- What is your favorite season and why?
Autumn, because Cowboy Bob and I both love the changing of the colors, the first snow on the mountains, the Thanksgiving holidays, and watching the baseball playoffs. When I taught school, autumn included the first day of school, the first football games, and unpredictable days of what to wear…shorts, sweaters, or ski parkas, sometimes all three in one day.
- What is your favorite genre to read and what do you like about it?
I usually select either good stories or mysteries. I have always loved to read, but when I’m in the middle of writing a book, I read less, because of time and the possibility of confusing my characters with the characters in the book I chose. My favorite authors are Lee Child, Michael Connelly, and Ivan Diog and I often reread their stories.
- Do you have a writer mission statement? What is it?
My mission is to write humorous and useful books for and about people of a certain age. And what is life without fun and laughter? I strive to make people laugh, move away from the dreary, and take an adventure with me.
The literary world considers age fifty as senior citizens, but many of us baby boomers are well over fifty, into the eighties or nineties and are active and energetic and adventurous but left behind in the literary world. I try to fill that gap.
- What do you listen to when you write? How does it help to put you in the mood?
I need silence when I write. Music distracts me from the job at hand. If the TV or radio is on, I tune them out.
OCTOBER QUESTION OF THE MONTH
What’s the weirdest dream you’ve ever had?
I seldom remember my dreams, but I’ll tell you about something weird that happened the day my husband died. He had spent his last days at the Idaho State Veteran’s Home, and the staff called me at about 0300 and told me that he had passed away. I had visited the night before, but he had been unresponsive. I want to believe that he knew I was there but didn’t respond when I spoke or touched him. I called my kids and told them he had died, but we didn’t go to the Veteran’s Home until later in the morning. I had made my bed, eaten breakfast, and rustled around a bit, not knowing who might be stopping by. The VA played Taps and held a wonderful ceremony for him, followed by eating another breakfast at a local cafe. When I returned home, I went into my bedroom to change clothes and I discovered a perfect paper heart, lying smack-dab in the middle of the bed. It was about ½ inch square and looked like it had been cut out with a hole punch, but the thing is, I don’t own a hole punch. I have no idea where it came from. It was tiny, so I picked it up with a piece of Scotch tape and taped it to my computer, so I can look at it every day.
I’ve heard of things like this happening but never dreamed it would happen to me