I’ve read a lot about the need for romance to be more inclusive, to have characters of all races, characters who have diverse ethnic backgrounds, LGBT characters and those with disabilities. And I wholeheartedly agree. But rarely do I ever see an outcry for romances to include, or even feature, older characters.
I happen to be what’s referred to as a “woman of a certain age”-- guess that sounds better than “middle aged” or "mature". And while I enjoy writing romances with characters in their twenties and thirties, I would love to write some love stories where the heroines are closer to my own age. But I fear it would be a waste of my time.
Women in their forties, fifties, and beyond are vibrant, passionate women who need love as much as a twenty-year-old. They enjoy candlelit dinners and long kisses, and...gasp...sex! And I would love to show that to the romance reading community through my stories. But I’ve always been warned not to make my characters too old. That no one wants to read about them.
Older women are often treated as though we are invisible. We’ve had our time and aren’t interesting anymore. We’re treated as if we have nothing to offer to society. No one markets to older women.
I could go on and on about double standards ( http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/22/entertainment/maggie-gyllenhaal-too-old-feat/ ) but that’s not what this blog post is about. Still, there have been a few movies lately that show older women having romances, and they are mostly played by Meryl Streep. But look at Meryl Streep. Is she invisible? No, she’s vibrant and passionate and why wouldn’t readers enjoy romances about women like her? They’ve had experiences and histories that lend themselves well to the conflicts inherent to romances. And double standards aside, look at the silver foxes we have for inspiration for our heroes (Mark Harmon, Sam Elliott, George Clooney, etc.). Yet, I’ve been told I shouldn’t write about them. And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to.
So, apparently this post on older characters in romance novels has turned into a comment on ageism and double standards. I think they are important topics and I encourage you to not only learn more about them, but think about the way we perpetuate these ideas. Here’s an interesting article on ageism. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amancay-tapia/ageism-or-the-last-accept_b_8186304.html
I did hesitate to spend my time and energy on something that possibly no one would want to read. But I’ve decided to write a series of “mature romances” anyway. I hope the market for them will be out there, older women who want to read about characters closer to their own age, and romance readers of all ages who simply want a good love story. So later this year look for my Silver Fox Romance series. I’m excited to be writing them. I hope you’ll look forward to reading them too.