“I noticed an improvement in my cognitive ability.”
One of the interesting things about Eileen isn’t just that she writes mystery novels, but that she spent a lot of years in a job observing people sometimes acting in mysterious ways before she took early retirement and wrote her first mystery.
“I spent 30 years working in government for an electric utility,” Eileen explains. “I worked my way up into managing a safety division for the utility, and at the end, that was a pretty stressful job where I could see the underbelly of things and sometimes people who are scheming. My personality is upbeat and friendly and positive, so when I see the underside of something, it intrigues me.”
She continues, “I took early retirement at the age of 50 so that I could then concentrate on writing. After I retired, I went back to school and got a master’s degree in writing.”
In addition to writing her books, she also stays busy boarding dogs at her home in Vancouver, Washington. The real love of her life is a dog named Flynn with a pedigree and name that, as any writer would, she takes pains to spell and about whom she then tells an interesting story.
“I have the best dog in the world,” she begins, “and of course all dogs’ parents think that they have the best dog. But he is. He is a Dutch purebred, a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje. There are only about 500 of them in the United States, but they are big in the Netherlands.”
“Flynn’s a therapy dog so we go to elder care facilities, rehab centers and VA hospitals, and he just likes everyone,” she tells the story. “One day we were in a rehab facility, and we went to each of the rooms; there was one room that seemed empty, but Flynn pulled me into the room. There hiding in the corner behind the curtain was a lady crying in a wheelchair. And we got her to talk. We spent about an hour with her, and eventually she let Flynn get up on her lap. Well, he’s about 30 pounds, but he sat on her lap, with his head on her chest, and she just told me her life story.”
It was Flynn who one day about two years ago caused her to realize that she had begun to feel less sharp. “One day I was at the dog park and there was a rabbit jumping along the hill. I wanted to tell Flynn to go chase the rabbit because he hadn’t seen it, and I couldn’t think of the word rabbit.”
As time went on, Eileen says she could tell things were not especially clear to her anymore. “I was having more difficulty with keeping the clues straight in my writing, something that’s critical for writing a mystery. I need to be able to keep a whole lot of balls in the air, and keep everything straight, or I’m going to mess up a clue somewhere, and the whole plot comes apart.”
Realizing that she was starting to have minor problems with her memory, as can happen with age, Eileen decided she needed to take proactive action. “I had seen the commercials, of course, so I started taking Prevagen, and I noticed an improvement in my cognitive ability.” Which is a good thing for Flynn. The next time he jumps a rabbit at the dog park, he probably won’t hear Eileen shout, “Flynn! Go catch that whatchamacallit!”