SouthWest Writers Interview with Gail Rubin

Jun 12, 2017 | 0 comments

Kicking the Bucket List CoverThe respected writers organization SouthWest Writers recently posted an interview with Gail Rubin about her latest book, KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die.

Here is a portion of the Q&A related to KICKING THE BUCKET LIST:

What’s your elevator pitch for Kicking the Bucket List?
Kicking the Bucket List is two-thirds about downsizing and one-third about organizing for end-of-life issues. We’re more inclined to deal with our material goods than our mortality, and this book helps get the conversation started.

What unique challenges did this work pose for you?
At first, it seemed like coming up with 100 items for this particular Bucket List was going to be a stretch. It turned out I had to pare down and combine items to make everything fit. Each item needed a photo or other artwork. I found a great resource for free Creative Commons images at, and I took my own photos around the house of my own junk and my cats.

How did the book come together?
Barbe Awalt and Paul Rhetts, the publishers at Rio Grande Books, have published a series of Bucket List books since 2015. It started with Barbe’s The Basic New Mexico Bucket List: 100 Things to Do in New Mexico Before You Die. Each bucket list item has one page, with a paragraph or two of description, a link to a website for more information, and a color photograph. By the time Barbe approached me about doing a book for the series, other titles in the pipeline focused on hot air ballooning, cowboy life, space buff activities, and other New Mexico topics. This was the first of the books to focus on a practical issue everyone will eventually face.

We met to discuss the book in August of 2015, and signed a contract in September. I first focused on doing an outline of tips that went from “why downsize” to “how to downsize” to “creative ways to downsize” to “organizing for end-of life issues.” Once I started the writing, found appropriate website links and gathered photos, it came together within three months. Paul said the editor commented this was the most polished manuscript she’d ever seen, so the editing process didn’t take long. I thank my critique group for helping make it so polished. And we have SWW member Steve Brewer to thank for the title. I believe alcohol was involved.

Gail Rubin, CT

Gail Rubin, CT, pioneering death educator, funeral expert and Celebrant.

What was the most rewarding aspect of writing Kicking the Bucket List?
As a professional speaker, the book has given me a new way to speak about mortality issues. I now have a PowerPoint presentation with photos from the book that I can customize to focus more on downsizing or on end-of-life issues, depending on the emphasis desired by the organization having me speak. The talks have been very well received, and I’ve sold a number of books after these presentations.

Do you have a favorite quote from the book you’d like to share?
I love the promotional blurb provided by Caitlin Doughty, YouTube “Ask a Mortician” star and author of New York Times bestseller Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory: “The connection between downsizing and death acceptance has never been more obvious. Clear your mind and conscience by sucking it up and doing the things Gail suggests.”

How many of the 100 items from the list have you checked off?
You would think The Doyenne of Death® would have completed all of the items, but no, I’ve still got drawers, closets, shelves and rooms that have excess goods that need to go. I have done a number of the end-of-life organizing items, though.

Any “Oh, wow!” moments while doing research for this book?
Oh, wow—I still have a lot of stuff to get rid of.

The interview continues: how Gail became The Doyenne of Death®, her top marketing tips, and why authors need to be good speakers. Read the entire interview at SouthWest Writers website.

A Good Goodbye