Angela Lauria interviewed another interesting author in last week’s Book Journeys, featuring Lee Gale Gruen with her book, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Gruen’s book is a memoir that narrates her three-year journey of attending a senior acting class with her father and how the experience bonded them together more than ever in their lives. Lee Gale was 60 years old when she started attending senior acting classes just for something to do. When her mother died a few weeks later, she invited her 85-year-old father to join her. She tells how the experience taught her a lot of sensitivity and understanding of her father who, she described, was an overbearing man who loved to get all the attention on himself. It also helped her overcome her own feelings of insecurity in talking in front of a big group of people.
The idea for writing the book just came to her one day while sitting in one of her acting classes and watching someone else perform. She thought they were in a unique situation being the only senior father-daughter team in the class, and they were getting the admiration of their classmates and audiences in their acting showcases. She started thinking what a cute book it would make, and at first thought of just writing it for her children, but eventually entertained the possibility of the public being interested in something like it. For Gruen, writing the book was a gradual process, not thinking about it for a couple of years until one day she just woke up in the middle of the night with half the book written in her head. Ideas just started pouring out as she typed sentences and paragraphs she didn’t know she had, making her realize that she had actually been thinking about the book all these years.
Gruen has reinvented herself as a senior and became a professional actress, and then an author, where she was thrust into becoming a speaker,
giving book talks in order to promote her book, and later becoming a motivational speaker to seniors to help them find joy, excitement and satisfaction in their life after retirement. She has been writing articles for magazines as well, and has been blogging for more than a year now. All these have evolved one from the other, and she never imagined that such things would happen in her life.
Learning how to publish a book was another challenge for Gruen since she didn’t know anything about it. After doing research and networking with writers’ organizations, she sent query letters to agents but no one picked up her book. Finally though, she did find a small boutique publisher who liked her idea and was totally supportive of her. While she didn’t put any money out of her own pocket to publish the book, Gruen had to do all the marketing herself, from booking speaking engagements, to doing talks and interviews, and putting up the book on social media. She always had cards to hand out to anybody, anywhere she can.
Gruen loved the whole process but she admits it was difficult from the beginning, having to be forthcoming in looking for a publisher, doing the marketing, and facing rejection along the way. She advises would-be authors to go into it with their eyes wide open and expect to get out and push the book themselves. She also finds it important to have people around who encourage you when you’re down. Being a memoir, the book was a catharsis for her, as she was able to pull things deep out of herself and put them down on paper. She learned that the reader wants to see “the real you,” so as an author, one has to be willing to reveal intimate things about themselves.
Watch out for Angela’s interview with another exciting author.