Who’s That Indie Author? Lillian McCloy

Author name:  Lillian McCloy

Genre:  Memoir / Travel Literature / Espionage

Book:  Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant: Undercover and Overwhelmed as a CIA Wife and Mother

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  I was always a writer, since I was six years old. I wrote stories on the middle pages of my notebooks in school. Sometimes I would add pictures to go with the stories. Genius.

I grew up in Canada. I became a big band jazz singer and also worked as a secretary and a paralegal.  After I moved to San Francisco, I became Melvin Belli’s secretary. That’s when I met my husband Frank.

I write for pleasure, but I don’t really know the answer to how I came to write my memoir. I may have felt the need to write my story down after my house and everything burned in the 1991 Oakland hills fire. I wrote my manuscript a year later.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  Well, I am 94 years old, so this isn’t an issue for me. I’m blind from macular degeneration. I have no other demands.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  Hmmm. I couldn’t answer that succinctly. I’d have to think about that for a while.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  I’m a planner. I’m a Capricorn and I’m very organized.

Could you write in a café with people around?  No, I like solitude and quiet.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it? No, I haven’t.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  My favorite book is Little Women, which I read when I was seventeen. And it’s still my favorite book. I am not reading now at all, because I am disabled, but I’ve always loved reading and having stacks of books from the library. Unfortunately, I am not able to read anymore. I miss it terribly.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  I don’t even know what an eReader is. That was after my time. I prefer a hardcover. I like the smell of a book.

Do you think print books will always be around?  No. Sadly, I don’t think so. I think it won’t be very long before they just don’t bother anymore.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  No, I wouldn’t.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  A standard phone (landline) does me just fine.

How long could you go without checking your phone?  Always. I never check my phone. I wouldn’t know how to check a phone. Mine just rings.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening? I don’t listen to audiobooks because I don’t enjoy it. I think there’s too much acting going on with the voice. If everyone read books in a plain reading voice, I probably would enjoy it. They’re always trying too much to dramatize, and I don’t like that.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  My daughter Johanna has done all of my promotion. She says she does it on a dedicated Facebook page.

Website and social media links:
Website: bordertownpublishing.com
Facebook: bordertownpublishing

Awards/special recognition:  Certificate of Recognition from the California State Assembly 2017


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13 thoughts on “Who’s That Indie Author? Lillian McCloy

  1. Six Car length behind an elephant is a) an intriguing title and b) abook I’d like to read. What a life Lil must have had!

    1. The title references a story that Lillian shares in the book. Here’s an excerpt: “When a young woman in Frank’s class, in the bloom of idealism and spirituality, asked him, ‘What did your experience in India teach you? What did you learn from that incredible country?’ He replied, ‘Always drive six car lengths behind an elephant.'” Bordertown Publishing loves to get feedback from readers and book clubs. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments!

  2. So nice to meet Lilian McCoy

    I agree with her about audio books being annoying if too dramatized.
    Also – cheers to her inspiration as writer in her 90s!
    Laughing with the subtle humor esp the part about checking her phone
    “wouldn’t know how to check a phone. Mine just rings.”
    Haha

    And her writing sounds interesting – esp the title of the book – “Six car lengths behind an elephant”

    1. Lillian wrote the book as a series of personal anecdotes. She often comments that she wrote it much like she would some of her lengthy letters to friends. In a casual and personal style. Hope you like it!

    1. Lillian wrote the book on her Selectric typewriter at her kitchen table. She wrote her manuscript in 1993, before mobile phones, laptops, the internet, or ebooks were what they’ve since become. She has never logged onto a computer. She’s been blind from macular degeneration for over 10 years now. Thank goodness she typed her manuscript years ago! 🙂

  3. Besides the arresting title, Six Car length behind an Elephant, I found other startling items in this post.
    Lilian, compared to mine, you have had a dramatic, fabulously interesting life. I gasped (in a good way!) when I read you are 94 year old. Brava!

    Also, you are persevering through macular degeneration, which I struggle with also but have one good eye. Your life story leaves no excuses for not persevering through difficulty. I’m glad your daughter Johanna promotes you through social media.

    Thanks, Barbara, for introducing me to this inspiring author. 🙂

  4. Hi Barbara, thanks for introducing us to Lillian. Her answers were honest and fascinating and reminded me of my parents who lived to be 90 & 97. My mom had macular degeneration and when she couldn’t read anymore, it was so sad. I think she tried audio books, but they just weren’t the same. Some older people can progress with the rapidly evolving technology, like my Dad, who in his late 90’s, loved to email and had a Facebook page! Maybe Mom would’ve done the same, I don’t know because her sight dictated what she had to give up. Some older people stay with what they know and how it’s been done all their lives.
    I do hope Lillian is wrong about print books because like her, I love the smell and feel. I just mentioned to my son how the bookcase is looking a bit messy. He said that he loves a messy bookcase, bursting at the seams with books that have been read. Huh. I liked his thought process. 🙂 Anyway, her book sounds intriguing and one I’ll have to purchase. xo

    1. Hi,

      I’m Lillian’s daughter and the book’s editor. It seems like you went through a very similar experience with your mother. It’s true how some older people prefer to stick with what they’ve done all their lives. Going blind at an old age can be very challenging. I thought she’d appreciate any opportunity to continue “reading,” since she loved books so much, but she really disliked the audiobook experience. She found it to be formal and constricting.

      I have taken to reading parts of her book aloud to her, which she enjoys. She wrote the manuscript over 25 years ago, so she’s remembering things anew. It’s an affirmation of her amazing life and of her achievement in writing a wonderful book. 🙂

      1. Hi Johanna,
        Thanks so much for sharing about your mom. I look forward to reading her book, and that’s wonderful of you to read parts of her book to her, allowing those memories to flood again. I know when I read her stories, I’ll think of Mom, too. Take care and thanks again, Lauren

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