Mullen takes the 50’s road to a new career Alex Carrier, Journalist
When Ann Mullen retired in her early 50’s, she hadn’t quite decided on which road to take in her new life. She and her husband had already spent summers and vacations building their dream home in Greene County, VA. Their children were adults and her husband had moved his work to their new location.
“I often think about the different paths we take,” says Mullen, “and all the little life-changing side streets along the way. I look at how different people’s lives are in comparison to each other and wonder what paths they must have taken to reach this point.”
Although writing was a completely different career path for Mullen, it shared some similarities with her first. Mullen used her degree in machine technology to work in the engineering center of Phillip Morris. Her job included rebuilding machines to make them work better, faster and meet the demands of the consumer. Now, she builds stories and works to make the characters, location and plot mesh together, and lead to a conclusion that satisfies her readers’ demands.
Mullen had never thought of becoming a writer before moving to Greene County. “I don’t know what sparked the idea of becoming a writer,” says Mullen. “In college, it was all I could do to write a short story for a class. It once took me two days to write a letter to the editor.”
“When we moved here, I wanted the freedom of not needing to work,” she admits. “But I look back and wonder what would have happened if I had never set down that first day and starting writing that first book.” That first book, What You See, became just one in a series following the life and relationships of Mullen’s main character, a fictional female detective named Jesse Watson. All About the Money, the seventh novel in the series, was released in June of this year.
“My stories are not about real people but they are based in Greene County,” Mullen stresses. “In my sixth book, some of the characters go on a cruise, but the story still comes back to something local. The characters come from Greene, Charlottesville and Central Virginia.”
It is Mullen’s characters as much as the Greene County location that keeps readers coming back for each new addition to the series.
“The series is just a long story about characters developing relationships. People are introduced. Some stay and some go,” explains Mullen. “In each book I try to introduce a few good characters that readers will really like and not forget. I have developed a whole population I can pick from and add to.”
“Each book is just another chapter of the story, and just like life, I keep adding on. I don’t see a time when this series will end, but I do see a time when I might go on to another set of characters and write two or three books, and then merge both series in some future event. We’ll see.”
Like the books she plans to combine someday, Mullen found herself merging her new career as an author with an additional career as an independent publisher. “I just set down and started writing, and had no idea of what I needed to do—what really happened after the writing,” admits Mullen. “Getting the book published turned out to be as much a job as writing the book itself.”
In the end, Mullen started her own publishing company. Although the plan has proved successful, it has not been without its own set of problems. “For me, it was a step by step process while walking blind,” she explains. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I made mistakes with my first book and it cost me money. But I learned a lot that helped me when I published my second book.”
Seven years of experience, missteps and lessons learned as an independent publisher have led Mullen down an unexpected road in her journey.
“For several years, people have been suggesting I do consulting so I could help others,” says Mullen. “Then I had a woman approach me about helping her publish her book, and the time seemed right.”
“There are thousands of independent publishers,” states Mullen. “It’s not that hard to do if you know what to do, how to do it and how to avoid making mistakes that cost you money and don’t improve your product.”
As a writer, publisher and now consultant; Ann Mullen is just one example of what many Baby Boomers are discovering themselves. The journey through life is filled with unexpected turns, side streets and new paths. For Mullen’s avid fans, they just enjoy the journey through mayhem, murder, mystery and, of course, Greene County.
To find out more about Ann Mullen, go to her website at www.aftonridge.com where you can also read about the her characters and Greene County, get her books and even check out some of Mullen’s short stories.
*Ann pictured signing a book for one of her readers, Gloria, at Massanutten Resort.