I’m not a rule breaker by nature. Honest. I’m pretty ordinary and I mostly go with the flow. You could easily make the argument that I’m kinda boring. But when it comes to writing my novels, I’m considered a rebel because I write older characters. It’s not that I’m being deliberately difficult by not writing the typical young, hip, twenty-something heroine or the usual too-cool hunky hero. It’s that I don’t know those people. I don’t run in those circles, and I know that if I tried to write younger characters, they would all sound false.
I never got why romance novels seem to be the bailiwick of characters who are younger than 50 anyway. If 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40, then how come romance after 50 isn’t sexy? Why is it that if you’re a woman of a certain age, then nobody wants to read about your love life? I actually had an editor tell me that “nobody wants to read about Grandma and Grandpa having sex.” Seriously? Have you run that theory past, say . . . Grandma and Grandpa? Frankly, I think the scenes between Jane Fonda and Sam Eliot on Netflix’s hit show Grace and Frankie are pretty sexy. And I’ll watch Jeff Bridges in a love scene any time any place.
I love the older heroines in my Women of Willow Bay series. These are women of experience and depth. They’re grown-ups, past all the silliness of youth. Carrie Halligan in Once More From the Top is a raising a teenager and running her own business when she reunites with the father of her son. Even though she’s in love, she’s also built her own life and changing everything is hard. They have to find a way to blend their lives and become a family.
Julie Miles in Sex and the Widow Miles is sexy, funny, bold, and living the perfect life with her doctor husband. Everything falls apart when her husband dies and Julie has to rebuild her life at age fifty-two. But she does it, in spite of discovering that her perfect life wasn’t all that perfect. Julie’s boldness comes from her maturity. You can forgive her for being snarky and brash because, unlike an annoying sarcastic twenty-something, she’s earned the right to speak her mind.
Sophie Russo and Henry Dugan in The Summer of Second Chances are middle-aged friends turned lovers. When Sophie realizes that she can act on her attraction by just being honest with Henry about how she feels, she skips the silliness and self-doubt of young kids falling in love. Their love grows gently and quietly out of their deep respect for each other and their friendship.
In my current WIP, Sarah in A Safe Haven for Her Heart (book 4 in Women of Willow series) has a big issue to overcome because she’s was abused in her first marriage. She has to learn to trust again and Tony, deputy sheriff, handyman, and grandfather believes he’s the one to help her do that. And Libby and Nick in A Little Glimpse of Heaven (book 5 in the WOWB series), also a WIP, are both grieving lost spouses after long happy marriages when they discover one another—a story only a seasoned romance can tell.
Love can happen to anyone at any age. That’s why I’m writing mature heroines. That’s why I’m stepping out in faith and breaking the rules. So do you break the rules as a writer? How? Let’s talk.