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I recently saw an article (and I wish I could remember where) that a writer had been encouraged by her agent or publisher to change the age of her character. She was basically told that women want to read about characters in their 20s so they can fantasize about being that age again. That romance novels with older protagonists don’t sell. Um…
Now, I’m not an expert on the romance novel market by any means, and maybe that statement is correct. Still, it ticked me off. I like to read romance, but I don’t fantasize about being 20 again. Sure, I’d like the ability to function on three hours of Z-time, but I like who I am now. I had no clue who I even was then. Okay, a little clue, but I had yet to settle into my skin. Lemme tell ya – a wrinkle or two and a stray gray hair does not impair one’s ability to kick some patooty. I know lots of women in their 40s who do it on a daily basis–I like to think I’m in that category. Hey, whatever. I have a black belt and work out. A lot. Don’t judge.
And I don’t remember ever paying attention to the age of the protagonist in the romance books I read. Is it because they were all in their 20s or 30s? Would I remember specifically if the character was 40? 50? Have I not picked up a book because my market-brainwashed subconscious recognized the protagonist as too old? Is that why the characters I write are in their 20s? Gah!
I like what wise 60 Minutes correspondent Andy Rooney had to say about women over 40:
As I grow in age, I value women over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:
A woman over 40 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, ‘What are you thinking?’ She doesn’t care what you think. If a woman over 40 doesn’t want to watch the game, she doesn’t sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it’s usually more interesting. Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won’t hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.
Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it’s like to be unappreciated. Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Older women are forth right and honest. They’ll tell you right off if you are a jerk if you are acting like one . You don’t ever have to wonder where you stand with her.
Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons Unfortunately, it’s not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress.
Ladies, I apologize. For all those men who say, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”, here’s an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it’s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!
I’m very tempted to write a novel with a 40-something, kick-ass, dagger-wielding heroine who totally gets the guy (age negotiable). How about you? Have you read/written a heroine 40 or over? Do you care about age at all when you read?