S1-EP5: Dr. Sam Harrington on Writing His First Book After Taking a Gap Year

Apr 12, 2019


Debbie chats with her husband, Sam Harrington, about the experience of writing a book and about being a first-time author. Yes, writing a book was on Sam’s bucket list but he never seriously considered it until their gap year when he had the time and mental space to focus on it.

A practicing physician in D.C. for 31 years, he realized he had deep knowledge and a strong point of view about how the elderly should make decisions at the end of life. The result is AT PEACE: Choosing a Good Death After a Long Life (Hachette 2018). Debbie is a nonfiction writing coach and editor and she asks Sam the tough questions about writing his book.

This episode will be of interest to anyone who has A BOOK on their bucket list – lots of practical tips and truth-telling.

Mentioned in the episode:

Gap Year After Sixty: Debbie and Sam’s gap year blog (where the book began)

AT PEACE: Choosing a Good Death After a Long Life by Samuel Harrington (Hachette 2018)

Read the Introduction to Sam’s book

Interview: The inside story: from stomach doctor to first-time author by Debbie Weil

Sam’s twitter: @gapyearsam

Other end-of-life books

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Katy Butler

How We Die by Sherwin B. Nuland


Show creator and host: Debbie Weil

Twitter: @debbieweil

Insta: @debbieweil

Producer: Julie-Roxane Krikorian

Podcast website

Music by Manuel Senfft


Contact: [email protected]

Thanks to our media partners

Encore.org, our newest media partner, is an ideas and innovation hub tapping the talent of those 50+ as a force for good. Founder and CEO Marc Freedman is an award-winning social entrepreneur and author, most recently, of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations. Looking for a great gap-year transition program? Check out Encore Fellowships, which match skilled, seasoned professionals with social-sector organizations in high-impact, paid assignments.


Modern Elder Academy is a program dedicated to navigating mid-life transitions. MEA, based in Baja California, Mexico, provides the place and the tools to start reframing your lifetime of experience. Grow whole, not old. Founder Chip Conley is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning hospitality entrepreneur and a rock star of the mid-life transition movement. His newest book is Wisdom @ Work: the Making of a Modern Elder.


Next For Me is an important new resource for the 50+ crowd focused on rewriting life. Taking a gap year or timeout may be the best way to figure out "what's next" when you're in this stage of life. Founder Jeff Tidwell explains, Next For Me "connects and inspires our generation to evolve our post-50 lives through new work, a new purpose, or a new social contribution."