Interview with Gene Clements

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
By now, I know my characters pretty well. I love trying to figure out how they would respond to situations that come up in the stories. I'm often surprised at the result, I even try to talk them out of what they want to do sometimes, but they always win the argument.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I draw. I practiced architecture for about forty years and drawing was a great hobby because no one could tell me they didn't like my work. Well, they could tell me, but since they weren't my client, I didn't have to listen. These days I belong to a figure drawing group. We draw together once a week, and I often draw in coffee shops, on the beach, or wherever. I have done all my drawings on the iPad (including the illustrations in my books) for several years.
Who are your favorite authors?
A mixed bag. Ivan Doig, especially "English Creek", because he is such a careful observer of nuance. Dylan Thomas, especially "Holiday Memory" for his use of language. Who wouldn't love to be able to begin a story this way:

"August Bank Holiday. A tune on an ice-cream cornet. A slap of sea and a tickle of sand. A fanfare of sunshades opening. A wince and whinny of bathers dancing into deceptive water. A tuck of dresses. A rolling of trousers. A compromise of paddlers. A sunburn of girls and a lark of boys. A silent hullabaloo of balloons."

Henry David Thoreau for the content. And, naturally, James Thurber and Mark Twain.
What do your fans mean to you?
It's great when readers enjoy the stories, and naturally I love it when they let me know through a review or in person. I know some of my readers personally and I also enjoy hearing their suggestions, even though, in some cases, I know Tilly and Elmer wouldn't, in a million years, do what my friends propose.
What are you working on next?
I have several ideas asking for my attention, but I don't think I'm finished writing about Tilly and Elmer. Mostly, I just want to see what they get into next. I may have to write about their college years with Elmer in Cedar Falls, Iowa and Tilly in San Francisco. I don't think Tilly wants to tell me everything about her exploits in San Francisco from 1963 to 1968, especially her activities during the "Summer of Love" in 1967, but I can probably get the info out of her if I ask nicely, and maybe ply her with a martini or two.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee. And, on those days when I wake up early, I usually start writing in my head. When I have too much to remember, I have to get up and start putting it down.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. Well, as an adult anyway. My father was an English teacher (my mother taught art), but I never wrote for fun until about 20 years ago. I'm sure my father would be shocked that I began writing for fun, and at my choice of subject matter.
What is your writing process?
I collect ideas for stories that I think might be fun to tackle. When I have an idea that I can't resist, I start writing. Once I get going, the story pretty much writes itself. Then I edit the heck out of it. I usually draw the illustrations once the writing is well under way. Sometimes, I'll tweak the story a bit just because I think a certain situation would make an interesting drawing.
How do you approach cover design?
Since I draw the covers myself, I'm thinking about them while I'm writing. I want the covers to be about something that really happens in the story, rather than just a generic photo of a cowboy and a pretty girl or whatever. I try to make the covers interesting enough to make the reader want to see how the illustration fits in, but not specific enough to give away the plot. It's a narrow target to produce a cover that's funny and sexy at the same time. The cover I originally drew for the first Tilly and Elmer story, "Tilly and Elmer Get Crazy", was rejected as too racy because it showed Tilly flashing her bare nipple at Elmer in the parking lot of Target. I had to put a gold star over her nipple to get it through the censors.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
iPad.
Describe your desk
In front of me is an older iMac with two screens, I usually write on that one. To my left is a Macbook Pro. I use that at the same time to verify things that I assert in the writing or to research things like the the original paint colors of a '52 Chevy pickup for the illustrations. My iPad is next to me so I can draw sketches for the illustrations when an idea presents itself. The walls are encrusted with figure drawings from the last 25 or 30 years.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Central Illinois and graduated from High School in 1962, about the same time as Tilly and Elmer. Once I left Illinois, after getting an undergraduate degree in architecture, I lived in Boston and California. I remember attending a county fair in California just after I moved here and thinking "I wish I was a writer!" so I could compare and contrast the experience with county fairs in Illinois. I think it was the fried calamari stand at the fair in California that caused my jaw to drop.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote my first bit of fiction about 1994.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Tilly and Elmer are a married couple in their late sixties who have been married nearly fifty years. I finished seven short stories about their frisky misadventures in the Tilly and Elmer series, and I wanted to give readers some background on them. In the Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX series, they reminisce about their high school romance. I think most of us remember falling in love and learning about sex with a combination of embarrassment and delight, and I wanted to try to think carefully about those days and write about them honestly. My personal experience was not like Tilly and Elmer's in any particular detail, but I think the flavor of the story will feel very familiar to anyone who came of age in that place and time.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I just wanted to write for fun and try to do it as well as I could. The idea of struggling to find a publisher seemed too much like work. I like the idea of having my writing available for people to read if they find it interesting, but I don't want it to become too much like a business.
Published 2014-06-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Let's Tryst Again
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 36,340. Language: English. Published: November 16, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Couples Erotica, Fiction » Erotica » Comedy/Humor
Sam and Carol were friends 40 years ago - now they're back in touch - in more ways than they ever were back then! They live 2500 miles apart, but they still have full benefits, especially when they get together twice a year for a weeklong tryst! "Let's Tryst Again" recounts one of their sexy summer sojourns in the woods of Michigan. They'll NEED their six-month rest after this!
Tilly and Elmer In Decent Exposure
Series: Tilly and Elmer. Price: Free! Words: 7,850. Language: English. Published: August 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Romance » Short stories
Tilly and Elmer, a sexagenarian couple from Iowa, are at it again. They decide to expand their horizons by taking some classes at the local community college, but this time, their horizons, and their local notoriety, expand a lot more than they had in mind. By the end of the semester, everyone in town is talking about the esthetic qualities of Elmer’s nude body and Tilly’s talent for kissing.
The Sexy Seniors of South Branch, Tilly and Elmer - Collected Stories
Series: Tilly and Elmer. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 16,670. Language: English. Published: February 10, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Erotica Anthologies, Fiction » Erotica » Comedy/Humor
All 7 of the original Tilly and Elmer stories, brought together under one cover. Tilly and Elmer are an Iowa couple, married nearly fifty years, who are still fond of each other and know what to do about it. They aren’t as athletic as they used to be, but by virtue of long experience and a sense of humor, they manage to have plenty of sexy fun anyway. Sweet, funny, nostalgic, and a little dirty.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - Coming of Age in South Branch
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 59,440. Language: English. Published: September 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Adult, Fiction » Coming of age
Tilly and Elmer, married sexagenarians from Iowa, reminisce about their high school dating years - the clumsy first date, the dramatic first kiss, the surprise of falling in love, and the glorious but worrisome hands-on, do-it-yourself version of sex-ed in the 60’s. Sweet, funny, nostalgic, and a little dirty. Sometimes more than a little. 60,000 words, 75 illustrations, lots of fun.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - Wide Awake at the Sleeptite Motel
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 11. Price: Free! Words: 12,480. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Romance, Fiction » Coming of age
Book 11 is the final chapter in the Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX series. After two years as high school sweethearts, Tilly and Elmer are off to college; Elmer to Cedar Falls, Iowa; Tilly to San Francisco. Before she leaves, Elmer wants them to enjoy the ultimate debauchery, something even more shocking and forbidden than their usual exploits. The Sleeptite Motel will never be the same after this.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - The Coming of Spring
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 10. Price: Free! Words: 8,390. Language: English. Published: August 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Romance, Fiction » Coming of age
Tilly and Elmer, a Midwestern couple in their sixties, reminisce about their awkward but passionate high school romance. “In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of” … having sex as often as possible! With their senior year coming to an end, Tilly and Elmer had trouble concentrating on their homework, but they learned plenty in their secret hideaway down by the creek.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - Strokes of Luck
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 9. Price: Free! Words: 9,020. Language: English. Published: August 16, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Romance, Fiction » Coming of age
In the FlashbackX series, Tilly and Elmer, a Midwestern couple in their sixties, reminisce about their awkward but passionate high school romance. After their first try fails, Tilly and Elmer find another opportunity to lose their virginity, and this time the result is a very memorable afternoon. By the time Tilly’s grandmother finds an embarrassing artifact they have forgotten, the deed is done.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - The First First Time
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 8. Price: Free! Words: 6,700. Language: English. Published: August 8, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Erotic, Fiction » Coming of age
In the FlashbackX series, Tilly and Elmer, a Midwestern couple in their sixties, reminisce about their awkward but passionate high school romance. In Book 8, “The First First Time”, Tilly and Elmer have that decided their love is real and that they’re mature enough to have real sex; in other words, “GO ALL THE WAY!”. They devise a brilliant plan to bring this about, and nothing could go wrong.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - Emission Accomplished
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 7. Price: Free! Words: 5,880. Language: English. Published: July 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Erotic, Fiction » Coming of age
In the FlashbackX series, Tilly and Elmer, a Midwestern couple in their sixties, reminisce about their awkward but passionate high school romance. Tilly knows that if she keeps touching Elmer that way, something exciting will happen, but she’s not sure just what to expect. Whatever it is, she can’t wait to see it! Sure enough, something does happen, and when it does, she gets an eyeful.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - Skinny-Dipping Naked with No Clothes On
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 6. Price: Free! Words: 7,830. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Adult, Fiction » Coming of age
In the FlashbackX series, Tilly and Elmer, a Midwestern couple in their sixties, reminisce about their awkward but passionate high school romance. While Elmer is very familiar with Playboy centerfolds, neither he nor Tilly has ever seen a real member of the opposite sex naked. Then, Elmer takes Tilly on an outing to a secluded spot by the creek one hot summer afternoon, and the rest is … Book 6.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - Prom Night and Spanish Olives
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 5,890. Language: English. Published: July 15, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Erotic, Fiction » Coming of age
In the FlashbackX series, Tilly and Elmer, a Midwestern couple in their sixties, reminisce about their awkward but passionate high school romance. In this story, the young lovers look forward to prom night with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation. The prom is fun, but the most romantic, beautiful, sexy, and surprisingly educational, yet worrisome, event happens the following afternoon.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - The Breast Laid Plans
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 5,980. Language: English. Published: July 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Adult, Fiction » Coming of age
In the FlashbackX series, Tilly and Elmer, a Midwestern couple in their sixties, reminisce about their awkward but passionate high school romance. In Book 4, Elmer feels it’s time for he and Tilly to become more intimate, and he works out a careful strategy to get his hands inside Tilly’s blouse. When he tries to put his plan into action, however, it gets stuck on two points.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - Punch Drunk on Love
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 7,410. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Short stories, Fiction » Coming of age
(5.00)
Tilly and Elmer, a Midwestern couple in their sixties, reminisce about their awkward but passionate high school days. Once Tilly and Elmer had kissed after the Halloween dance, they fell hopelessly in love; walking on air, talking on the phone for hours, drinking vodka punch! Wait, how did they get that in the Midwest in 1962? And, would Tilly have allowed Elmer to be so forward without it?
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - Falling for a Kiss
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 5,820. Language: English. Published: June 21, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Short stories, Fiction » Coming of age
(5.00)
In the FlashbackX series, Tilly and Elmer, a Midwestern couple in their sixties, reminisce about their awkward but passionate high school romance. Elmer knew that tradition required him to kiss Tilly on the third date. He wanted to, but when he found her dressed as a vampire for the Halloween dance, his well rehearsed strategy took a scary turn. They're still laughing about it fifty years later.
Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX - Is that your Thigh I'm Squeezing?
Series: Tilly and Elmer FlashbackX, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 6,730. Language: English. Published: June 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Short stories, Fiction » Coming of age
In the FlashbackX series, Tilly and Elmer, a Midwestern couple married for over forty years, reminisce about their awkward but passionate high school romance. This story recounts their first date, which they’re still laughing about fifty years after it happened. Don’t worry, Tilly’s dad was joking about the shotgun, and Tilly didn’t really grab Elmer “down there” during “Blue Hawaii”.
Tilly and Elmer - Tilly's Afternoon Delight
Series: Tilly and Elmer. Price: Free! Words: 3,760. Language: English. Published: February 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Comedy/Humor, Fiction » Erotica » Romance
(5.00)
Elmer goes fishing on a hot Iowa afternoon while Tilly intends to spend the day reading her erotic novel about a handsome woodsman who rescues an innocent virgin. When a young arborist comes to thin the oak tree in the backyard however, her dirty story takes on a whole new level of realism.
Virgil's Reality
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 290. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Graphic novels & comics » Comics
Fifty two cartoons featuring Virgil Mifton, a sexagenarian whose body is in its mid sixties, but whose mind is closer to twenty three. That can cause confusion and hilarity, but, let's face it, all our friends have been there. Enjoy.
Truck Tryst
Series: Tilly and Elmer. Price: Free! Words: 2,540. Language: English. Published: December 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Couples Erotica, Fiction » Romance » Adult
Tilly and Elmer decide to liven up their sex life by making love in Elmer's old truck as they did as teenagers. Unfortunately, they aren't teenagers any longer. When Elmer hurts his back in the process, Tilly, a former nurse, has to use unorthodox methods to treat his injury. In the end, though, the treatment livens up their sex life even more than their original plan.
Skinny-Dipping Scandal
Series: Tilly and Elmer. Price: Free! Words: 3,820. Language: English. Published: November 28, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Comedy/Humor, Fiction » Erotica » Romance
It's a beautiful summer afternoon so Elmer and Tilly head down to the creek for a picnic and some skinny-dipping, just like they did at eighteen. When a young couple shows up unexpectedly, Elmer discovers to his embarrassment that he knows the girl. Fortunately Tilly and Elmer are able to duck out of sight just in time. Or are they?
Tilly and Elmer's 50th Class Reunion
Series: Tilly and Elmer. Price: Free! Words: 3,330. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Romance » Short stories
(5.00)
Tilly and Elmer attend their 50th high school reunion with high expectations. And apprehension. Both have lovers from the past, real or imagined, that they haven't seen in decades, and that they haven't fully described to each other. Long hidden secrets are revealed, romantic flames are rekindled, and they both see an old lover in a new light. The real party begins when the party is over.
Tilly and Elmer Go to Las Vegas
Series: Tilly and Elmer. Price: Free! Words: 3,300. Language: English. Published: November 15, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Comedy/Humor, Fiction » Erotica » Couples Erotica
(5.00)
Elmer feels like an old man after he and his friends overhear a group of high school boys in Pearl's Diner bragging about their sexual exploits. Tilly proposes a trip to Las Vegas to perk him up. The trip perks them both up, and Elmer feels like a young man again by the end of the story, but what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas! In fact, it's front page news back in South Branch!
Tilly and Elmer Get Warmed Up
Series: Tilly and Elmer. Price: Free! Words: 2,820. Language: English. Published: November 7, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Romance » Short stories
(4.00)
"Tilly and Elmer Get Warmed Up" is a funny, romantic, and erotic story about an older married couple's plan to have sex in the woods during the winter, just as they remembered doing when they were eighteen. Needless to say, their adventure this time has a different, but still satisfying, outcome.
Tilly and Elmer Get Crazy
Series: Tilly and Elmer. Price: Free! Words: 2,570. Language: English. Published: November 4, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Adult, Fiction » Erotica » Comedy/Humor
(4.00)
"Tilly and Elmer Get Crazy" is a funny, romantic, and erotic short story chronicling an older married couple's efforts to spice up their love life by following the advice Tilly found in a woman's magazine, "Women's Excitement". The advice works, but not in quite the way Tilly expected.