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At age 85, author debuts her novel
Sweet Summer
Ann Nivens published her first novel, Sweet Summer, at age 85. She will be at Covenant Village of Turlock on Tuesday to discuss her work. - photo by Photo Contributed

Some writers are hit with instant inspiration, while some will kick around an idea for a few years. Then there is Ann Nivens, who had an idea for a novel nibbling away at her for decades.

Nivens finally put her idea on paper and the result is her first novel, published at the age of 85 years old.

“Inspiration comes at the most inopportune times — in the middle of the night, when you are washing dishes or doing laundry, basically anytime,” Nivens said. “So much of my notes were on slips of paper, backs of envelopes and even a handy tablet now and then. After years of keeping these scattered notes, I finally gathered them into my office room and began typing them up on the computer. This was about 15 years ago. I was 70 at the time.”

Nivens’ novel “Sweet Summer” was published by the Westbow Press division of Thomas Nelson and is currently available in print and e-book at Amazon. She is also on a book tour that is bringing her to Covenant Village of Turlock on Tuesday.

“Sweet Summer” is a love story inspired by Nivens’ own parents. It tells the story of Aura Blake and Patrick Garner and their life-long love for one another, even during the tenuous times when circumstances separated the pair and Aura suffered years of mistreatment.

“For many years I had a dream of publishing the story of my own parents, their times, their love and their struggles — an epic love story,” Nivens said. “I have always been fascinated by the story of my parents. Much of that story was told to me by my mother when I was very young, and then has grown through the years as I have heard anecdotes from friends, relatives, and even strangers.”

Nivens approached her work with gusto. Before she even started writing, she returned to college at age 68, after spending 25 years as a professional interpreter for the deaf and decades teaching piano. She said she returned to the classroom to take all the subjects she could that would help her write her book. She also spent countless hours researching to make sure her work would be historically accurate.

On several occasions Nivens was forced to shelve the project, like when she became her husband’s caretaker in the last few years of his life, and when her own health started to decline. But Nivens was determined to see the project through to the end and got plenty of support from her six children.

“My children encouraged me and helped me not to give up,” Nivens said. “They helped me type, edit, rewrite, and continue the project.”

The determination has paid off. Not only is she touring with her first book, but she is working on the sequels.

“Since I had so much material, Westbow asked me to cut it down quite a bit for the first book and come out with two sequels, which I am working on now,” Nivens said. “I am confident that I can finish those since I have much of the material already written.”

Nivens will be at Covenant Village of Turlock, located at 2125 N. Olive Ave., at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. She will give a presentation about bringing the project together and will give a short reading. A book signing will follow.