Fit After Fifty – and Beyond

Posted Jun 23 2011, 12:01 am

I’m very excited to welcome Golden Heart sister, Linda Lovely, here today!

Linda just celebrated the release of her new mystery/suspense novel, DEAR KILLER.

MARLEY CLARK, a retired military intelligence officer, works security for a Sea Island community simply to keep busy. A single night patrol transforms the feisty widow’s yawner of a job into a deadly battle of wits when she finds an islander drowned and bobbing naked amid a potpourri of veggies in a Jacuzzi.

Asked to serve as the lead investigator’s liaison, the 52-year-old heroine is startled to discover she’s become DEPUTY BRADEN MANN’S target as well—for romance. Yet their steamy attraction doesn’t deter the pair from sorting through a viper’s nest of suspects as the body count grows and the pun-loving killer plans a grizzly epitaph for Marley. 

DEAR KILLER is the first in a series of Marley Clark adventures that promise to dish up heart-pounding suspense with a side of romance.

 What was your inspiration for writing DEAR KILLER?

My inspiration could best be described as a process. I lived in the Lowcountry of South Carolina for about a dozen years and  knew I wanted to set a mystery here. Beaufort County has dozens of gorgeous islands, many secluded and private–perfect for locking a killer and a heroine and hero into confined geography (especially if a bridge goes out).

 But who did I want as my heroine? Though I didn’t want to write a police procedural, I wanted my heroine to be a kick-ass investigator with legitimate qualifications. So I created Marley Clark, a retired Army officer, inspired by Arlene Underwood, a friend since kindergarten, who is a retired military intelligence officer. Like Arlene, Marley started her military career as a Polish linguist, knows how to shoot a Glock, and can trot out defensive martial arts tactics if need be. This background made it believable that she would be hired to work security on a private island. Of course, though my heroine and Arlene share some career experiences, Marley is completely fictional. Her personality, humor, flaws and beliefs are purely products of my imagination. Arlene’s not to blame!

Okay, that gave me the setting and the heroine’s pedigree and occupation. Next I needed a plot. A former public relations client provided investigative and fraud protection services to all types of businesses and government entities. Interviewing this firm’s experts for feature articles gave me quite a menu of plot options from which to choose.

So DEAR KILLER is the first book in a series?

I’m happy to answer, yes. The sequel, NO WAKE ZONE, is set in Spirit Lake, Iowa–another of my favorite places. While visiting her crusty 79-year-old aunt, Marley Clark witnesses a billionaire’s death when he tumbles from a double-decker tourist boat captained by her cousin. The victim—founder of a biotech empire—is dead before his body hits the water. Soon Marley is consoling the widow, an old college friend and a prime murder suspect.

As Marley becomes embroiled in the murder investigation, members of the tycoon’s family perish faster than overripe fruit, and the arrogant head of an international security firm renews an old vendetta. When it appears the murder spree may tie into biological weapons and terrorist threats, Marley’s former Pentagon boss joins the probe.

To unmask the villains and protect her kin, Marley reaches deep into her bag of tricks, taps relatives’ homegrown resources, and debates the wisdom of trusting a handsome attorney with a suspicious past and a killer smile.

Wow! Both DEAR KILLER and NO WAKE ZONE sound like great reads. Tell us more about your feisty over fifty heroine, Marley.

Marley runs and practices Tae Bo. She also swims, kayaks and plays a tough game of tennis. She’s 52 years young. True, Marley is a fictional character, but I believe her fitness—essential to the plot of DEAR KILLER, my mystery/suspense novel—is realistic.

Many boomer friends—including ones a decade or more older than my heroine—are athletic, fit and quite capable of meeting the physical challenges Marley faces as she matches wits with a vicious, pun-loving killer. (Oh, and Marley also performs admirably in another physical arena when she discovers the 40-year-old detective she’s paired with wants to trade strip searches.)

Stories about legendary elder athletes pop up constantly on the Internet. Consider Sister Madonna Buder, known as The Iron Nun, who didn’t start running marathons until the late 1970s. Some 300 triathlons later—including the grueling Ironman—she continues to compete at age 78. Then there’s Grandad Leslie “Dizzy” Seales, the oldest person to wing-walk on an airplane. His age? Eighty-five, and he only has one leg.

Yes, these people are exceptions, but fit seniors represent a sizable demographic. According to an article in Newsweek, “there are an estimated 250,000 senior athletes in training in the United States, and every one of them is redefining what the aging body can do.” The U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) organization has grown to include close to 60,000 members.

While many boomers exercise, few do so to compete—except with our own ability. We engage because more flexible schedules give us the time to play AND we do it for health.

Dozens of studies conclude that exercise helps us live longer and enjoy a better quality of life. The value of exercise even extends to those of us who do too many lifts with our forks. According to a University of South Carolina study, folks over 60 who work on their cardio-respiratory fitness tend to outlive unfit adults regardless of body fat. Another study suggests a weekly commitment to walk for two and a half hours offers boomers some protection against memory loss.

Do I exercise? Yes. Like Marley Clark, I swim, kayak and play tennis. I walk (have a four-mile circuit measured out) but I don’t run or do Tae Bo. Do I exercise enough? No. But I do make commitments and am pretty good at keeping them.

I think as more and more boomer authors pen books, heroes and heroines in this age group will be allowed to run, sweat, kick ass—and find and make love—just like protagonists still in their twenties and thirties.

Do you exercise regularly? Has your exercise routine changed with age? Can you name an older hero/heroine who exemplifies senior fitness?

Linda Lovely;;  Author of DEAR KILLER, a Marley Clark Mystery. Now available in e-book and trade paperback formats.



6 responses to “Fit After Fifty – and Beyond”

  1. Lynda says:

    Congratulations on DEAR KILLER! Marley sounds like an awesome lady.
    I love to work-out; sweating and “feeling the burn.” The worst thing for me is when injuries happen, they keep me on the sidelines longer and longer because I’m just not as young as I used to be. Damn it. But I’ve learned (Finally!) to take the time to let my body heal. Then it’s back to sweating and “feeling that burn” posthaste!
    Here’s to many more adventures with Marley!

  2. Shea Berkley says:

    Great interview, ladies. Your books sound fun, Linda.

    As writers, regular exercise is very important since we sit most of the day pounding out books. It’s so seditary, and I for one need to get my body moving. I do cross-training and kickboxing to keep in shape, but just getting up and taking a walk around the block every two hours would help. I also dance around the house like a fool when no one is looking. Makes me happy and gets my blood moving.

  3. Linda Lovely says:

    Shea, I agree–writing may give the brain a work out but it doesn’t do much for the body. Your approach sounds great. I should take a break every two hours. I tend to do my exercise in larger chunks. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Congratulations on the release, Linda!

    I stopped exercising for a while, because of some killer deadlines, and boy was that a mistake.

    One thing I’ve noticed as I age is how hard it is to return to the post-stopping level of fitness again.

  5. And I meant: pre-stopping, not post-stopping. 🙂

  6. Ramona says:

    Marley sounds like a terrific character. I love reading and writing a character who defies conventional thinking about seniors. The heroine of SABRINA SAYS has a grandmother who’s a “hoot.” And in my new ebook, BORDER HEAT, the hero and heroine have a whole tour group of senior citizens to contend with and protect as they flee a Mexican drug cartel.

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