Writers of the baby boomer generation are now moving past mid-life toward old age; but this has not stopped them from creating fiction and non-fiction that continues to captivate millions. Authors over 50 continue to predominate on bestseller lists, with works that are achieving strongly positive critical reviews in addition to their popularity with the public. Below are ten baby boomer authors from various subgenres of fiction and non-fiction who are currently experiencing success and receiving acclaim for their literary efforts.
As a practicing lawyer in Mississippi in the 1980s, Grisham was horrified but riveted by a case involving a violent assault on a young girl. His fascination with this case led him to write a fictionalized version of this story in his first novel, 1987s A Time to Kill. This book was not an immediate success; but the bug had bitten Grisham, and he chose to leave the law and continue his career as a novelist. Grisham’s legal thrillers have now sold hundreds of millions of copies around the world, and he is still going strong at age 56.
A highly successful author of contemporary and historical romance novelists, Anderson’s works have received positive critical attention somewhat unusual for her genre. Her latest books, published just after her 60th birthday, have been in the Top Ten on the New York Times bestseller list. Anderson, who is part Shoshone, spends her time these days enjoying the wilderness with her husband on a ranch in Oregon, while continuing to produce exciting new works of fiction.
McCammon was a highly successful horror fiction author who grew tired of being pigeonholed and retired from writing in 1998. But he mounted a comeback in the early 2000s, reinventing himself in his 50s as a writer of popular and critically acclaimed historical fiction.
This 50-something writer published her first novel in 1980. However, she has found her greatest success with her current Virginia River series. Basically, Carr views her earlier works as a primer that led her to her present incarnation as a highly-respected writer of serious fiction about strong and courageous female characters.
Trained as an economist and formerly employed on Wall Street, Lewis eventually morphed into a chronicler of the behind-the-scenes world of business and high finance. Probably his most important book is his latest, published at age 50 – The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, which is an expose of the chicanery and skullduggery involved in the now-burst housing and credit bubbles that gave us our current recession.
Stacy Schiff is a 50 year-old New York Times contributor who specializes in biographies. Literary critics everywhere have praised her examinations of the lives of historical figures, both well known and overlooked. Her biography of Vera Nabokov (wife of the novelist Vladimir) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. Many have called her latest work on the life of Cleopatra, the best biography of 2010. This book currently resides on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list.
Skloot is an essayist, memoirist, and novelist whose life was changed forever in 1988 when, at age 41, he suffered severe neurological damage from a virus that infected his brain. Despite suffering significant impairment to his thinking and creative processes, Skloot has continued to produce outstanding material even though it can now take him up two years to fully complete an essay. He has written two memoirs after the age of 50 telling the story of his struggles, and his daughter Rebecca is also a best-selling author.
This 50-year-old author has carved out a unique niche for herself as an extremely successful science fiction author of tales featuring gay, lesbian and transgender lead characters. Scott, who won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction in 1986, is an enthusiastic promoter of her craft, has taught online writing courses through her website in addition to publishing her own guide to writing.
A highly distinguished professor of theoretical physics, the 63-year-old Kaku has essentially become the Carl Sagan of his generation, helping to explain and popularize exotic ideas from the world of physics through a series of popular science books. With his unmatched ability to clearly explain complex subject matter, Kaku has enjoyed a robustly successful second career as a public scientist in his 50s and 60s.
It seems safe to say that almost everyone has heard of Stephen King, even if they have never read one of his epic horror novels. But in 2000, at age 53, King also wrote a how-to book devoted to his chosen profession. Entitled On Writing, this book has been heavily praised as one of the best books about the art of writing that has ever been written. King’s advice to aspiring writers is simple – you have to read a lot and write a lot to become good at writing, there is no shortcut.
These writers have not only been successful, but they have continued their success past the age of 50 and beyond. If indeed you can never be too old to write and write well, then what this means is that for anyone who has ever dreamed of becoming a writer, it is never too late.