We welcome today baby boomer and author Kay Marshall Strom. Kay is the author of The Second-Half Adventure: Don't Just Retire - Use Your Time, Skills & Resources to Change the World (Moody Publishers).
Q. Thank you for this interview, Kay. Can we begin by having you tell us why you chose to write for baby boomers?
Because they are, without a doubt, a crowd to be reckoned with. A generation of 77 million, they are just starting to enter retirement age. But instead of planning for the end of their lives as other generations have done, boomers are healthy, many are comfortably set, and they have a life expectancy of twenty or thirty years. And the majority have a real desire to make use of the skills and life experiences they have accumulated during their first half. If any generation was ever up to reinventing retirement, it’s baby boomers.
Q. Did you outline before you wrote your book or just went with the flow?
I’m actually a pretty organized writer. I believe in outlining thoroughly so I have a good map of where I’m going. My first draft—the composing draft—takes me the most time. (I’m euphoric while I do this draft. My writing seems so wonderful!) The second draft is where I do the nuts and bolts. All my wonderful words suddenly sound like mush and I’m faced with having to make a work of art out it. (I’m always discouraged here. I feel like everyone will discover I’m a fraud with no clue what I’m doing!) Then I do a final edit, where I read everything out loud and put on the final touches. Although I’m never back to euphoric, I feel a lot better with this finished product.
Q. What kind of research did you do before putting this book together?
Although I read and read and read some more, my most important research came from interviews. I talked with almost fifty people who were already involved with a second-half adventure somewhere in the world. In addition, I talked with representatives from a large number of organizations that actively look for such people.
Q. Can you tell us if you interviewed people for this book and can you give us an example of who?
Well, the approximately fifty people I interviewed ranged from a Viet Nam vet artist to a financial counselor who grew up in a Mafia family, from a quilter to an airline pilot, from a government employed launch engineer to a substitute school teacher, from a bankrupt businessman to a college professor, from a doctor to a bakery truck driver, from an engineer to a never-employed grandma. I conducted most interviews in the U.S. , but also in India , China , West Africa . It was a great book for getting a wide range of voices heard.
Q. Did you get endorsements for your book prior to publication and can you tell us how you went about getting them?
I partnered with an excellent organization called the Finishers Project (Finishers.org) and they handed me contacts. The Finishers Project is an umbrella group for 100 mission organizations. Voila! Built-in endorsements!
Q. What was the hardest part to write?
Well, the hardest part was finding an angle that I felt was worthy of another book on retirement. That angle came from the Finishers Project. This great organization had already done cutting-edge research on the baby boomer generation, on their specific needs, and their second-half potential. Even better, they had put together a base of mission opportunities and developed a user-friendly way for people to search out service openings online.
Q. What message are you trying to get across to your readers with this book?
The subtitle, which I originally argued was awfully unwieldy, really is a pretty accurate answer to this question: Boomers, you don’t have to just retire. You really can use your time, skills and resources to change the World.
Q. Do you plan on writing more baby boomer books?
I don’t have any others on the radar just now, but I’m certainly open to it. It’s a great audience!
Q. Thank you for this interview, Kay. Can you tell us where we can find out more about you and your wonderful new book?