NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Are you over 35?


           Are you over 35?  
            Yes, I am nosey. I also want to know if, like me, you are looking for books with heroines over 35. Women who have experienced life. If you are, you aren’t alone. There are at least  two of us.*grin*
CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on Nora Roberts CBS Sunday Morning
 Charles Osgood gave a prologue quoting some statistics. The average age of readers is 44. The majority of book buyers are over 50 and 58% percent of those buyers are women. The vast majority of what those women buy is romance. So, those gals who say “I don’t read those kinds of books” may be stretching the truth.  Anyway, during the interview Nora, 61, says she moved away from writing younger heroines. Nothing wrong with them. Writing about young helpless women wasn’t what she wanted. I agree with her decision. As the median age of our society shifts, I think those in that median age want to read about women like them. Women who have experienced life and have skills. Maybe even have a few lumps and bumps.
            Recently Fortune listed the 50 most powerful women in business and only 7 were under the age of 50.  Take a look here 50Most Powerful Women  Should you take the time to check it out you’ll find these gals have what I call the double B whammy. They are brilliant and beautiful.
            Many of my friends write great YA.  Not me, can’t do it. I write about extraordinary women and the men they love.  For me that means women with a high level of competency. I don’t think a gal in her early twenties can fill the bill.  My new book, Under Fire: The Admiral, has a heroine over 35. Way over 35.  Shopping this story I had some crazy ‘feedback’ like - “She’s old, wouldn’t she be tired all the time?” Nope. She has her Geritol and Boost and I’ll make sure I have her take a nap.  Grrr! And don’t worry I won’t let the hero use the glass she keeps her teeth in.
            I believe we are on the cusp of a change in what is considered old. One of the main reasons for the change is, the media is aging. Yes, I am being snarky here and jaded.  But the media controls what we see. How can they call some of our notables and celebrities old when they are the same age? Hmmm….   
            Are you over 35?  Can you see your life ending because you’ve reached a certain age? Do you think you will slip into a kind of narcolepsy of life when you reach a certain age? What about your writing? Will your characters age as you do?   

18 comments:

Cathy Perkins said...

Yes Rita... what's that line? Hi, I'm Cathy and I'm ... over 35.

When I stopped and thought about your question, the mysteries I enjoy reading feature men and women who are more established in their careers, but it is difficult to find books that focus on the relationship of {ahem} older characters.

The relationship issue of the story I'm writing now, Honor Code, involves a couple whose kids are grown. The marriage is falling apart without that 'glue' and the hero tries to figure out how to salvage it. So far, people seem to relate to the issue. Who knows? Maybe it's the beginning of a new trend. :)

Rita said...

Cathy, what you describe is a universal theme. I know two families facing those issues. In one he thought when the kids were gone and their money was no longer diverted to the kids, they would travel and have fun. She is in a deep depression because her children are gone (say that with a lot of drama) and he feels like she doesn’t love him. I watch from a distance and shake my head. I think she is crazy and feel he soon will move out. I believe you have the possibility for a deeply moving story.
New trend YES!

Rita said...

BTW -RWA has a reader survey that relates to romance http://www.rwa.org/cs/readership_stats
I always take these with a grain of salt but it gives more insight on the age of readers.

Toni Anderson said...

Rita--unbelievably (I know) I am over 35 :)

I thought about YA but I'm like you, I don't relate to that age as much as I relate to men and women of experience. Most of my H/h tend to be early thirties. I feel there's a huge gap in the romance market for plausible 'older' H/h characters. I like early 30s b/c It gives people a lot of growing room and time to figure out who they really are. And life changes and who people are changes, so why would an older heroine really be a problem. Where can I buy your new book? You should have put a link in the post!!!

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

I am over 35, and find harder and harder to read books with flighty heroines who are 22.

I'd love to see a single heroine over the age of 39 who wasn't widowed, divorced or traumatized.

Rita said...

It’s funny how I never think of age when I see people. It’s generally attitude. My neighbors across the street are in their 80s and are on the go constantly. As far as partying they can put me to shame any day.
I wish there were a better word to use than older. Perhaps I should have a contest to come up with another term. My characters are generally in their late 30s but I felt this story simply needed to be told.
Under Fire: The Admiral is available everywhere but for you here are a couple of links
Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Under-Fire-The-Admiral-ebook/dp/B009G2X3P2/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1
B&N
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-fire-rita-henuber/1112958596?ean=2940015695908

Rita said...

Good morning A Buckeye Girl
ALL my heroines are late 30s or older. Plus they are kick butt take no prisoners kinda gals. Honestly I think we are going to see more and more books with very strong heroines. At least I'm hoping.
Thanks for coming by.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rita ~

I am almost 44 and have been reading for over 30 years. While I love to read about heroines/heroes in their 20's I would also like to read about some in their 40's who have lived life already with both good and bad experiences. I have Under Fire and Under Fire, The Admiral on my Nook but haven't had a chance to read them yet but I am looking forward to it!

Have a good Day!
Missy

Rita said...

Ahhh! Thanks Missy.
It's fun to read about people who know what they want and are not willing to settle for less.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Great topic, Rita. I'm definitely over 35, and so is the heroine of my Mendenhall Mysteries books. Kate is creeping up on her mid-fifties and she's never been married, or ever felt the need to be. She's been too busy becoming Chief of Police.

I like reading about older characters and how they deal with life's challenges.

Rita said...

Marcelle
So glad you commented. Mid-fifties is a very good age. Big smile. I like she doesn't feel the need to be married.

Elise Warner said...

Over 35--just on the outside. Inside I'm whatever age I can convince people I am. My amateur detective in Scene Stealer, Augusta Weidenmaier is in her late 60s. She won't be getting any younger. Great topic, Rita.

Rita said...

*Inside I'm whatever age I can convince people I am*
LOVE it.
I think we have started the trend!

Anne Marie Becker said...

*raises hand* I'm over 35. Sometimes I feel much older, and sometimes I feel younger - it's all about your attitude, as you mention above.

I love how you mentioned it's about the "experience" of the character. I, too, am a bit tired of the super-young heroines, though I love historicals. In contemporaries, I enjoy reading from a more experienced POV. I like snark and sarcasm, and I think a lot of that comes with life experience. *grin*

This also made me wonder...do people like heroines to be around 30 because it supposedly embodies the best of both worlds...the image of youth and beauty (as the media sees it, anyway), but also the wisdom of some experience? It's a critical life stage. Okay, all stages or milestones in life are critical, but this one is where one's self-identity is really taking shape. Where one is becoming established in a career, figuring out if they want marriage/children, etc. Lots of potential for relationship issues. And yes, there is much potential at 50, or 60, or 70, I'm sure, but maybe the average reader doesn't picture as much potential for change or growth there? I don't know...just throwing out some thoughts. :)

Rita said...

Anne Marie
The potential for growth is another point. No, the older H&H may not have much of a growth arc but many have that bucket list. Does the single woman leave the company she built, leave her children and grandchildren to live in the back woods of the third world country she has wanted to live in since she was a teenager? Does she ride elephants, camels, touca-touca’s and canoes down forgotten rivers? Does she meet and fall in love with a man from another culture? Live in the Yukon by herself? The possibilities are endless. You mention self-identity. The thing with the characters I’m speaking about know who they are and have ALWAYS wanted to do these things. The constraints of society have prevented them. They don’t need to grow so much as they are finally in a position to do what they want. For me it’s a challenging new set of internal and external conflicts to think about.

krisgils33 said...

I am waaaay over 35. I read Under Fire: The Admiral last night (it was awesome) and at no time did I think the heroine was of a mature age...not because she didn't act mature, but because she acted like a normal person who could be any age and had the attitude and ability to accomplish anything. It seems that when people are a bit older in books, they're described in a way that you instantly feel like they're ancient and/or can't do as much...if that makes any sense at all.

Rita said...

Thank you for stopping by and commenting Kris.
You are my first review. Soo glad you liked the book.

Maureen A. Miller said...

My Grandmother remained "Jack Benny's age" until the day she died, God bless her. The fact that I even know Jack Benny's age will really tell that I'm over 35!! :)

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