Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When Did I Become Such An Old Fart?

ROSEMARY: Having spent two of the last six weekends with Sue Ann Jaffarian I can definitely say - she is not an old fart! She's got more energy, enthusiasm and charm than most people are entitled to, and when we lost a moderator to the flu at a recent conference I asked Sue Ann to step in and within seconds she said, "Sure, I can help out!"

Not ready for the retirement home and and the early bird special. Here's what Sue Ann has to say.

When Did I Become Such An Old Fart?

By Sue Ann Jaffarian

Not too long ago my editor sent me a draft of the cover for my second vampire book, Baited Blood. It’s a fabulous cover – hot, sexy, bold – perfect for catching a reader’s eye. I instantly loved it, except for one thing – the male model on the cover seemed way too young. And I said so.

Me to editor: “I’d rather bake this young man cookies for his study group than bed him.”

My editor: “A hot young dude will bring in younger readers.”

Me to editor: “But I’ll feel like a pedophile every time I have unclean thoughts about this cover.”

My editor: “Trust me, he’s of legal age.”

I sent a copy of the cover draft to several female friends. Most were aged 27-35, a few others were between 50 and 65, and asked their opinion of the cover without giving my personal thoughts first. The results: they all loved the cover and the “hot young dude” on it. Not a single one of them thought he looked too young.

(Note from Rosemary...I've seen it and this cover is soooooo hot, we can't even show it to you!)

Sigh - Somewhere between my first novel and this last one, I turned into an old fart.

Double Sigh – It’s not just the book cover.

In the past couple of years, many of my friends have started retiring from their jobs or are talking about retiring. Discussions revolve around where to live, where to travel, retirement funds and wearing stretchy pants 24/7. Me? My career as a paralegal is booming and I’m signing more book contracts that only add to my work load and stress level. As they cut back, I continue to work nearly 70 hrs a week between both endeavors.

Did I miss the boat or was I not paying attention? When did I become dangerously close to retirement age? Or do I need younger friends?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I see the sprouting chin hairs and, yes, I have noticed I only wear low comfortable shoes these days. But getting my hair colored more often is merely a scheduling issue – honest. Never mind that I’m older now by several years than my mother was when she passed away. Or that nearly half of the attorneys I work for at the law firm are young enough to be my offspring. Pffft, minor, silly details really.

But did that waitress really have to point out the senior menu at lunch yesterday?

Thankfully, writing is one of those careers where it’s actually to your advantage to have a little snow on the roof. There’s nothing like having an arsenal of life experiences at your beck and call as you pound out conflicts of characters, young or old. Gather a bunch of accomplished crime writers together and watch the average age of the group edge up the time line rather than slip south, as in most occupations. Not that there isn’t an entire gaggle of fabulous young writers in the mix, but we oldsters are definitely in the majority, and no one is saying boo about it.

Can you imagine someone calling Mary Higgins Clark (still writing at 83) into their office and offering her voluntary retirement to thin the ranks? Or telling Sue Grafton (going strong at 70) that she needs to concentrate on learning new technology or be replaced? And I hardly think Elmore Leonard (amazing at 85) is thinking about switching to a career as a Wal-Mart greeter.

Writing is one of those rare careers someone can choose later in life and work until he or she doesn’t want to do it any longer. It’s a career where old farts can excel.

In the next ten years, as my career as a paralegal begins to wind down, my writing career will hopefully continue to grow and prosper. I still have nine books under contract left to write, so that should keep me busy and focused for a few more years. Though I have no doubt that in the near future, I’ll be looking over the drafts of new book covers and instead of finding the model inappropriately sexy, I’ll expect him to wink and call me Nana.

Sue Ann Jaffarian is the author of the best-selling Odelia Grey mystery series, the Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series, and the Madison Rose Vampire Mysteries. In addition to writing, Sue Ann is a full-time paralegal for a Los Angeles law firm, and is sought after as a motivational speaker. Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini, the 2nd book in the Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series, is her latest release.

Visit her at


  1. "I want whatever she's having." Sue Ann's Magical Patented Energy Drink! I suspect that at the rate you're going, you'll surpass not only MHC, but PD James . . .

    The lack of a mandatory retirement age is one of the nice things about our job, and I can't imagine WANTING to stop writing, old fart or not.

    I do, however, want to see the guy on your cover!

  2. Old? You? I'm sorry, but you've got more energy that a coked up monkey. Don't blink! SueAnn just wrote another book!

    Old fart my ass

  3. I'm glad it's not just me whoi thinks so...I saw her in Birmingham at around 10:30am and she'd already done one event!

  4. What a fun post. I am fond of saying that I plan to die at my computer, so I can relate to everyone of a certain age who keep clicking away at the keyboard. More power to us.
    But, however, comma, I do not work 70 hours a week. Guess I could do more than one book a year if I did, but in my close to dottering years I really do enjoy the freedom to garden, play with animals and grand kids, and read more books. (smile)

  5. Seriously? The getting old thing is pretty interesting--more "snow on the roof"--an expression I've never heard before but which certainly resonates here in Boston these days--is a pretty good thing.

    A well-published pal said to me one day--I wish you had started writing years ago, when I did, then we could have come up through the ranks together.

    Which was lovely, but you know, I started writing when the time was right for me, age 55. And I wouldnt have been that person 20 years earlier.

    GO, Sue Ann! And cannot wait to see that cover--let alone the treats sure to be inside. xoox

  6. Maryann, I never intended to do more than one book a year. When I did, I had a lot of leisure time even with the demands of my day job, but when I was offered contracts for the other two series, I felt I couldn't pass up the opportunity to stretch my writer's legs and build my backlist. This is my last year to write 3 books a year, because, frankly, the pace is insane, even if I do enjoy doing it!

  7. Sue Ann, I'm going through the same thing--friends retiring, going to Elderhostel to learn flower arranging, slowing down, and I simply can't picture a life without writing.

    I have to confess I must learn to cut down on my crazy speaking and travel schedule (Chicago on Sunday, driving to Tucson today) but I find it hard to say no to that too.
    And I enjoy it--the writing and meeting readers. The perfect life, in fact. So no bingo in my future either!

  8. I remember when my hair started to turn, one of my daughters said, "It's not gray, it's sparkly." Sweet, and if only...

    Nevertheless, one of my dear friends died last week, so I have a slightly more serious take on the subject. Have spent the week reaching out and hugging (virtually and otherwise) "old" friends.

  9. Hallie, I am so sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, as we get older, losing loved ones is something that also becomes a part of our reality.

  10. I like to think of myself as the "new old," destined to break through at an advanced age and to heck with conventional wisdom.

    Sue Ann, you're talking my language!

  11. I've had the pleasure of knowing Sue Ann for almost half her life (think about it, Sue!) And in that time she has never been, nor will she ever be an OLD FART! Each year brings more wisdom and hilarity ... and I love both of them. I sometimes envy those of you who are just getting to know her. She's a peach!!!
    oxox -- Susan

  12. Sue Ann, nine books under contract takes my breath away. Never mind a day job too...

    But I can't either imagine how boring life would be without writing!

  13. Can't wait to try your vampire series, which you made me aware of through this post. I've read your other two series and loved them, so I'm sure this one will be terrific too.

    I tried writing while in my middle thirties, but felt too green, as if I was still too unformed to say anything with authority. So, I put my desire to write aside and picked up the keyboard years later. By then, I felt more sure of myself and of my writing.