I’ve been scheduling lots of readings at retirement communities in the Bay Area since Fling!’s two main characters are 57 and 90. For the most part, these experiences are positive and give me a chance to introduce a diverse group of people to my novel. However, I don’t think that one’s characters need to be older adults necessarily in order to attract readers in these venues.
What I’ve learned, though, is to be sure that the facility has lots of independent living units. Otherwise, if it’s an assisted living place primarily, those attending will be limited in their cognitive functions and the reading will be less successful.
Since those who have chosen a retirement community are probably less mobile than they once were, many are eager for stimulation, intellectual or otherwise. Activities directors, therefore, are usually eager to book authors whose books might resonate with their residents.
At the beginning of an event, I pass out postcards my publisher has created that give info about me and the book, as well as my blog address. I usually ask those attending why they read because their answers often, ironically, state the reasons why writers write. Then I ask what kinds of books attract them. Depending on the facility, the answers usually are mysteries and romances, though some also enjoy literary works.
After I’ve given an overview of my novel and its origins, I read a short passage, usually not for more than seven to ten minutes. I follow that with an opportunity for them to ask me questions. To stimulate the dialogue, I print out at least a dozen different questions that writers are asked about process, etc., and distribute them to those who are willing to read them aloud. That allows me to go into more depth and also involves those attending to interact with me.
By the end of the event, some are interested in buying a book, but even if they aren’t, it’s been an opportunity for me to spread the word about Fling! and to bring some stimulation into their lives. Both seem important outcomes.