By Jeff Ayers
In Mike Befeler’s fourth mystery, CRUISING IN YOUR EIGHTIES IS MURDER his octogenarian hero Paul Jacobson becomes involved in a series of crimes while struggling with the problems of his short-term memory loss. He must deal with mayhem, missing people and murder and use all his geezer resources to solve a case of international intrigue.
Mike talked to The Big Thrill about discovering his love of writing later in life, plus his “geezer-lit” books.
What sparked the writing bug?
I started writing late in life at the age of 56. I was sitting in my easy chair in the living room one evening, thinking over things I had really enjoyed over my life, which included painting and writing–creative activities. That evening I made the decision that I wanted to pursue fiction writing as something I could retire into. I negotiated with my boss to work three days a week and took two semesters of fiction writing at the University of Colorado (I had learned that if you’re 55 or older, you can audit any class at CU with the instructor’s permission). That jump-started my writing.
What did you do before you started writing? Why wait until you retired?
I was in the computer industry for 39 years in sales, marketing and program management. I began writing while still working and was fortunate to publish my first novel, RETIREMENT HOMES ARE MURDER, in January 2007. I retired in August of that year to write full time.
Talk about “Geezer-Lit.”
I write Geezer-lit Mysteries that promote a positive image of aging. The tag came from fellow mystery author Christine Goff, who writes a bird watching mystery series. She gave me a blurb for my first novel, and I went with the geezer-lit name. Geezer-lit features older characters who defy the stereotypes of aging. Even though octogenarian Paul Jacobson suffers from short-term memory loss, he becomes an amateur sleuth and has a romance with a young chick in her seventies.
Could you discuss the origins of Paul Jacobson? And, did you plan a series?
People I met when my mom and stepdad lived in a retirement home inspired Paul Jacobson. Paul has short-term memory loss but different symptoms than my stepfather who suffered from dementia. I didn’t think of a series when I started, but when I completed the first novel, it seemed natural to keep going with Paul.
What prompted the idea for your new novel, Cruising in Your Eighties is Murder?
My wife, daughter and I went on an Alaskan cruise in 2006. I had just sold my first Paul Jacobson novel to Five Star, and a cruise became a natural progression for Paul’s adventures.
Do you find your books appeal to all ages?
With the growth of the aging population I find many older readers. Younger readers also get a kick out of Paul and often buy books and then pass them on to their parents. There are readers who also enjoy Paul’s 12-year-old granddaughter, Jennifer.
Book five in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, CARE HOMES ARE MURDER, will be released in June 2013. Paul and his family return to Hawaii during his granddaughter’s winter break from school, and once again Paul gets in all kinds of trouble and must solve a series of murders with the assistance of his granddaughter.
As I tell my readers, stay young in spirit.
Mike Befeler writes the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series including CRUISING IN YOUR EIGHTIES IS MURDER, SENIOR MOMENTS ARE MURDER, RETIREMENT HOMES ARE MURDER and LIVING WITH YOUR KIDS IS MURDER, which was nominated for the Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2009. Mike is vice-president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.
To learn more about Mike, please visit his website.