Friday Fascination

Age Matters?

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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…

photo courtesy of stockimages
photo courtesy of stockimages

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!

photo courtesy of Stuart Miles
photo courtesy of Stuart Miles

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!

photo courtesy of amenic 181
photo courtesy of amenic 181

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?


  1. cindy reifel says:

    Tell the person who told you to change your character’s age that that’s why they write NA and YA books now!.
    I’m 61, have been reading since I was 4 and the character’s ages never affected me. I do have to say that I don’t read NA or YA now because of my age. Other than that, I have no problem with the main female character being mid 20’s to 50’s.

    1. CJ Burright says:

      Right on, Cindy! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks age is irrelevant. Not that I want to read a book about a creepy 70 year old dude with a 16 year old…those arranged marriage days must have sucked!

  2. Love this post, CJ. I don’t think age matters. In fact, I find I identify more with women mid-thirties and forties than the twenty-year-olds. All ages deserve romance!

    1. CJ Burright says:

      I still remember teenage angst enough that I can relate to YA, but while it’s not my preferred genre, I still enjoy the romance. If it’s a good book, the ages of the characters shouldn’t matter, right? Right!

  3. You go girl! Write that book. I and a couple million other women will read it.

    1. CJ Burright says:

      Yep, I’ll definitely think about it. 40-year-old kick-em-in-the-head, dagger-wielding demon hunter. Or something. 🙂

  4. Right on, sister. Jennifer Cruise writes some of the best “middle aged” romance heroine out there. And sure, living the fantasy is part of any romance, but not all readers identify with the same types of heroines. Vive la variety! 🙂

    1. CJ Burright says:

      You’re so right, Traci – variety is the spice of life. And fantasies can happen at any age.

  5. carol savoy says:

    Love your post! To be honest I prefer reading romances where the characters are a little older. I’m 50 and I’m really not too interested in “young romance” reads as I am into the older more mature romances. I love action, adventure and loads of hot romance. I’m not 20 and don’t wish to be in my 20s. Lol the 50s are the new 30s.

    1. CJ Burright says:

      Exactly! I feel like I’m not a day above 30, and I want more action than angst. Have a great weekend, Carol!

  6. I don’t pay attention to age all that much, but once I remember being surprised when the heroine’s age was mentioned and she was a young 20 something. She’d seemed far more mature to me. So maybe that was a case of the editor telling the writer to change the age?? Interesting topic, CJ!

    1. CJ Burright says:

      Well, I know some people who are 20 and act like they’re 40 (and there are some people who just refuse to grow up). I say forget age once you’re technically an adult, especially in books! Thanks for stopping in, Coleen!

  7. Natasha says:

    I don’t pay attention to age much when reading.
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

    1. CJ Burright says:

      Glad you stopped by, Natasha!

  8. Virginia H says:

    I enjoy reading books about people over 40, I am way past that age myself and its something different to read. I do love to read something different. I know we are not all young anymore.

    Virginia H.

    1. CJ Burright says:

      Glad to hear it, Virginia! People of all ages can be sexy heroines, JMHO.

  9. Elizabeth Inglee-Richards says:

    I’ve never cared much about the age of the characters in the books I read.


    1. CJ Burright says:

      Yeah, me neither. Age…pfft. Thanks for dropping in!

  10. bn100 says:

    it matters when I’m reading

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. CJ Burright says:

      Happy Monday! Thanks for the blog stop-in and good luck!

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