When Doug Tindal told his boss he was going to retire in a year’s time, the Algonquin Highlands writer says, “literally, the next day, I started having a creative outpouring. I would wake up early with ideas that had to be written down.”

Although he had a degree in journalism and had written magazine features, fiction was a relatively new foray.

Sitting in the living room of Oakview Coliving, he adds that he wrote all kinds of things; plays, started novels, poetry, short stories. He was in a writer’s group.

When he presented the first Wine on the Porch short story, the group told him he had found his voice.

After a while, he wrote another one, and another one. “Eventually, it occurred to me there might be a collection there.”

He had about eight stories, 35,000 words in total, and went to a writer’s conference. He spoke with editors and agents and received advice on how to proceed. He left the conference with a goal to pen another 50,000 words and have a manuscript ready in a year.

“That was February of 2020,” he says with a chuckle. “I kept writing, but I couldn’t write another Wine on the Porch story for four months because I had to decide, ‘is this a universe in which COVID doesn’t happen, or has it not happened yet, or has it already happened?’ And we didn’t know what we were dealing with.”

Instead, he wrote dystopia. In the end, about one-third of the stories are pre-COVID, one-third during, and one-third after.

The manuscript was completed by August 2022 and published in February 2023.

“The basic setup is, this is a group of seniors, and a couple of seniors-in-training, who have decided to set up a coliving situation.”

He and his wife were attempting to do that in Toronto. So, he used that as a model for the stories. The characters are fictitious. “It’s the adventures of this group of seniors living together.”

He adds the easiest way to describe it is for people who remember Stuart McLean’s The Vinyl Cafe on CBC radio. “The kind of stories Dave and Morley might have told, if they’d had the chance to grow old with their friends.

“They have the kind of challenges that you might imagine of a whole bunch of people who are mostly strangers, making a decision to live together, and then having to figure out how to make that work.”

He said the feedback he gets is that readers laugh out loud. That being said, there are serious topics. For example, one story involves a discussion about natural burials.

He said people do not always think about their older years. “They have a vision of themselves in vigorous retirement, and then they cut to an image of themselves drooling in a wheelchair, and they don’t think anything about how they’re going to deal with the interim.”

He is passionate about the coliving model. He wanted to show in the stories what it might look like to help people imagine it.

He is now working on volume two, with six stories complete. He is also working on a play, and acting.

The paperback is available from Master’s Book Store. Paperback plus ebook are available from Amazon.