Boomer Literature targets those entering the third Act in the drama of their lives.
March 10, 2013
This is the final installment of our on-going conversation with Claude Nougat, author of the Boomer novel A Hook in the Sky. We have explored the potential size of the Boomer lit market and discussed the forces behind it. We also found that Boomer lit raises some fundamental themes linked to the second major transition in life, and we know that Boomer lit celebrates the wild, defiant, and rebellious spirit of those generations who fundamentally changed the social landscape of the world.
Caleb: We’ve talked so much about Boomer lit and now I’m going to ask you the key question, the one I should have started with: how did the idea of boomer lit ever occur to you?
Claude: In a very simple natural way. Like all authors who have just finished a novel, once I had completed the first draft of my book, A Hook in the Sky, I began to worry about what kind of audience might want to read it. My book features a typical boomer, Robert is sixty when he retires, full of energy and ready to do much more with his life! So I began researching in earnest the boomer market. An article in The New York Times drew my attention, it was published some two years ago and made the observation that Hollywood had suddenly turned to making movies for what they delicately called “a silver-haired audience”. And to everyone’s surprise, every single one of these films became box office hits, like for example RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous) or The King’s Speech. That set me thinking…
Claude: Right. And it became quickly obvious from observing statistics that the market for a boomer book was huge. Remember I’m an economist by training! So I thought I’d seek other authors who might have written boomer novels.
Caleb: How did you go about doing that?
Claude: As soon as I had published my book, back in September of 2012, I got in touch with the moderator of the Kindle Forum threads listing books by genres and convinced him that there was a large number of boomer authors and boomer books just waiting to be recognized as such and that they needed their own boomer book thread. This was a major first step since for the time being, Amazon does not classify boomer books as a genre.
Next, in October, I started a group on Goodreads to discuss what I first called Baby Boomer novels until I was told by members joining the group that this was too restrictive. Besides novels, there were all sorts of forms of fiction, non-fiction and even poetry. So everyone agreed that the broader term of Boomer lit was much better. As a result the Group’s name was changed and it is now called “Boomer Lit, Novels, Short Stories, Memoirs and More”. That should cover about everything! At first, like the Kindle thread to list boomer titles, the Group was very slow in taking off and I thought I had maybe made a mistake, that I had misread the market. Then, suddenly, starting in November, things began to pick up speed.
Caleb: How far has it progressed to date? Has it surprised you?
Claude: The Goodreads Group grew even faster than the Kindle thread and I have to confess I was astounded! It’s as if Boomer lit had been there all along, just waiting to be named to come out in the open! Now, as I talk to you, the Group has 225 members but every day new members are added and new boomer titles are uploaded on the Group’s bookshelf, so far 67 books. And it keeps growing every day! In December we started reading one boomer book/month, democratically selected through a (blind) poll: this is a practical, fun way to explore the confines of boomer lit.
We first read my book and then another book and this one was useful in an unexpected, contrarian way: we discovered that for a book to qualify as Boomer lit, it is not enough to have some characters of boomer age. It is essential that the story address boomer themes, otherwise it doesn’t properly belong to Boomer lit. We have now (since 15 February) started reading Michael Murphy’s Goodbye Emily – I haven’t started yet but it sounds like a good boomer read.
Then of course, as I’ve said before, we have a Boomer lit Facebook page and a Twitter account at @BoomerLit, both growing fast but it’s still early days, they were started only a couple of weeks ago…It’s a lot of work and as I’ve said before, I’m lucky to be ably helped along by Abigail Padgett and Marsha Roberts for the Group and Libby Fischer Hellmann on Facebook, all three of them excellent boomer authors.
Caleb: Claude, it’s been nice discussing Boomer lit with you, thanks so much.
Claude: Thank you, Caleb! I really appreciate the thoughtful questions. You gave me a chance to explain about Boomer lit and what I’m doing, I’m very grateful for that. The launching of a new genre is an enormous task and I’m hugely helped along by the selfless work of dedicated authors like you and Stephen on this wonderful website and of course all the authors and readers who participate in our Goodreads Group and contribute to the debate, without which Boomer lit could never have come to light.