Doris Reidy doesn’t like wasting time and hopes other people feel the same
“I think that’s where I say it’s never too late, but let’s face it. sometimes
it’s too late.
Bodies wear out, brains blow a fuse, and grief tears a person into a knot.
So if you want to do it, whatever it is, do it now.
She is the perfect embodiment of her own advice and the saying “write what
you know.” An energetic 79-year-old widow, she is about to publish her tenth novel and
she did not publish her first until she was 72. She is best known for her light, fun and often touching books featuring Mrs. Entwhistle, an energetic 80-year-old widow.
chatting with her reveals a sharp wit, a realistic yet optimistic outlook, and a dry sense
Q. Tell us about your background.
I’m a transplanted Hoosier and lived in the same house in Cobb
County for 48 years. That makes me a native, but not quite.
In the 70s, 80s and 90s, I wrote non-fiction articles for newspapers and
magazines. It’s a bit like hitting your head with a hammer—it’s
feels so good when you stop. When I opted for a regular salary, I
became the executive assistant to the CEO of a large hospital system, and
then deputy mayor of Marietta, I took early retirement to take care of
seriously ill husband.
Q. How did you start as a writer?
You mean other than ninth grade when my poem about fairies dancing in the
moonlight did the local newspaper? Honestly, it was torture to be released as
freelancer for periodicals. I only persisted because I thought I couldn’t write
fiction and I had to write something. The very first item I sold was to Andy
Sparks at AJC Sunday magazine. It was about a belly dancer, and I went to see a
class and participated on behalf of the research. Then I wrote book reviews on real crime books.
Q. How did you get into fiction?
After my husband was stable and life calmed down, I decided to write a novel for
see if I could. I have always said firmly that I lacked the imagination to write fiction,
preferred to deal with facts and did not know where to start. I didn’t tell anyone what I was
do, including my husband and our three adult children. It was like my personal
secret mission. There were no witnesses to my mistakes, but also no one to show
me how to do better.
Q. What has changed?
When the student is ready, the teacher will come, and at that time I met a
wonderful writing teacher, Josh Langston. Josh is an accomplished, successful
novelist and generously shared his know-how with beginners. Something he said in
the class changed everything for me as a writer: “A plot begins with a person in a place
with a problem. A cartoon light bulb went on in my brain—’Of course! I can do
this!’ When I became a widow after 52 years of marriage, writing became my refuge.
Q. How was Mrs. Entwhistle born?
She started life in a new one, but she had none of that and insisted on
takes the lead in a series of novels. He’s the most popular character.
readers. She’s a composite of my mother, a strong southern woman, and maybe a
a little bit of me. The first book, “Mrs. Entwhistle,” is a collection of connected stories,
as does the fourth book, “Many Happy Returns, Mrs. Entwhistle”. The rest is
conventional novels. There is a cast of recurring characters, including Maxine, her
best friend, and Roger, her dog.
Q. Is Mrs. Entwhistle progressing well in the modern era?
She is fine with her cell phone but has a love-hate relationship with it
the computer. She remains unrepentant and unrepentant throughout the series. One thing that I
I constantly hear from my readers is that she reminds them of their mothers or
grandmothers. I’m aware of the stasis while I’m writing to her, and one of the ways I keep it
move is by involving it with young characters.
Q. How do you think the main characters are portrayed in the books?
I find that people my age are often portrayed as caricatures. The values of our company
youth to the point that the very word “old” has become pejorative. The old ones too
often one-dimensionally portrayed as eccentric, incompetent, or weak. If I want
no one listens when we say it’s not. My goal is to present Mrs. Entwhistle as a fully developed character who is always up to life’s challenges. The safest way
to make her do something is to suggest that perhaps, at her age, it is better for her not to!
Q. Share with us how you got published.
As a late beginner, I had no time – literally – for the slow walk that is conventional
publication – where you interview agents, wait to hear, get a nibble, submit a synopsis
and the first chapter, just wait. Maybe you’ll get lucky and interest an agent who
repeat the process with the editors while you wait to hear.
I took this route briefly with my first novel, “Five for the Money” and only heard
crickets. So I decided to publish independently. If you are technically competent, it is
possible to format a manuscript, design a cover and publish a paperback on
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, for zero dollars. Of course, if you want it to be
good, you’ll want to pay for professional help with editing and design.
There are over 48 million titles available on Amazon, and to make mine
visible I use global online ads and the price of the books is low enough to be an “oh, what
whore ? ” purchase. Some of my readers write reviews, and that connection is
precious. I appreciate every comment, even the most negative ones.
Q. Any last words from you or Mrs. Entwhistle?
Do it now. Chase the skinny little dream that frolics in your
head – what have you got to lose? This dream can grow stronger and propel you into a
direction you never imagined.