Author Alice McCracken, 74, also known by the pen name Dorothy Rice Bennett, knew she had to find something constructive to do in the wake of sorrowing news.
That creative outlet became her second book “Girls on the Run,” a romantic fiction novel, about two 20-somethings on the run for different reasons.
McCracken, a retired therapist and journalist, said the beginnings of “Girls on the Run” followed the death of her long-time partner, a battle with diabetes and emergency gallbladder surgery.
“Life was pretty much in the toilet for me,” she said.
So she opted to do two things — get a puppy and turn to writing.
In hindsight, McCracken said she chose younger characters for her second book because she “needed my characters to have more opportunities than what I was feeling at the moment.”
McCracken’s first book “North Coast,” centers on a lesbian romance novel, while “Girls on the Run” follows two women coming from two different spots in life as they meet at a truck stop where Jennifer picks up Stacy. Jennifer is running from threatened violence back home in Pittsburg while Stacy recently had a fight with her family after coming out as a lesbian and being discharged from the military, McCracken said.
The two become friends despite their differences and move to San Francisco where they build their own lives. “Girls on the Run” follows the women through a year as McCracken said she tries to write in real time in order to watch the characters grow naturally.
“There’s a slow reveal of a relationship that matures,” she said.
To avoid cliches, McCracken said she seeks to include enough details of these women’s lives so that you feel like you’re there with them.
“Critics say if it doesn’t advance the story, don’t put it in,” she said. “I don’t want to over-detail it but I’m told I’m a visual writer. I’ve heard that from so many people.”
While “Girls on the Run” focuses on a lesbian love story, McCracken said she’s been surprised to learn her readership is all types of people from mature lesbians to mature heterosexual males and females.
“This is a love story with universal themes,” she said.
McCracken said it’s quite a difference living in Sequim compared to other areas.
“When I lived in San Diego, I had a lesbian community that was very much part of my life,” she said. “Here in Sequim I feel like I’m accepted by pretty much everybody.”
Writing books in her 70s has become less intimidating too. After releasing “North Coast,” she feels more comfortable and has become more active with a website blog about the Olympic Peninsula.
“Girls on the Run” marks her halfway point for a bucket list point, too.
“The goal is to finish four books by 80,” she said. “I think I can do it.”
McCracken has found taking up a creative project like writing at an older age to be quite rewarding.
“I’m fulfilling a life’s dream,” she said. “The little parts of aging that used to bother me don’t bother me so much because I have other things to focus on.”
McCracken hosts a book signing at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, at Adagio Bean & Leaf, 981 E. Washington St., with “Girls on the Run” for $15. For more information about McCracken and book promotions, visit www.dorothyricebennett.com.
McCracken uses a pen name she adopted some time ago — Dorothy Rice Bennett — using her mother’s middle name and her maiden name (Dorothy and Rice) and her grandmother’s maiden name (Bennett).