Why Writing Romantic Fiction with Mature Characters

Ever since I’ve been through all the Pippi Longstockings, the Karl May books (a German-style Western for youngsters), and matured through the rest of our tiny island’s library, I’ve been reading romance novels. I devoured them all my life.

Until a few years ago. I got bored with the flawless, beautiful, size ten, gorgeous, fashionable and funkily dressed young heroine. Yes, I remember those times… not very well anymore, but yes, I’ve been there, done that, and got the stretch marks to prove it. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t relate to these young girls anymore. And I would like to identify with the heroines I’m reading about and get lost in their worlds before I contemplate what to cook for dinner tonight.

Where are the romance novels about women my age? My daughter turned forty-five this year, and her baby sister is thirty-two.  Even their age is no longer represented in typical romance categories, at least not in the traditional romance sections in shops or on Amazon.

So here I am, writing about this amazing group of older woman, older than twenty-five at least. Why? Because contrary to common convention, love after forty does exist. Women even want and enjoy sex after fifty. And there are rumors after sixty there is still love and sexual intimacy to be had. Who guessed modern day grandmothers are not only good for babysitting, crocheting, and buying unfashionable clothes at budget stores?

Because traditional publishing houses for romance novels don’t touch books featuring us ol’ gals, self-publishing is the only way forward so far. Without a crew of editors, cover experts, and marketing people at hand, self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted. And don’t even try it if you aim for instant gratification. It’s a gravel road less traveled.

I have a mission, and that mission is to combat the age stereotypes of older women. I don’t bother with older men because the Sean Connerys or George Clooneys of this world are still desirable in the love department. I’m not the first person pointing out that older women aren’t getting a similar break.

That’s a pity because writing about older heroines is different than writing about young females. Issues older women are dealing with are different, their reactions and ideas for their future are different. That makes writing their stories interesting for me.

We don’t have one true love, a blissful wedding, gorgeous children and a cool career followed by a happy ever after until death do us part. Older characters force us to write about more real-life situations. They may be divorced or widowed, have children or even grandchildren, and might be at the end of their working life. It can be tricky to navigate their complex backstories, but they also offer a rich life and plenty of emotional baggage to weave into the story.

And who says we have to point out sagging breasts and varicose veins? A whole army of 60-somethings in love demonstrates it doesn’t matter. “Turn on my mind and the rest will follow….” That’s never truer than later in life.

In an age where about every second marriage ends up in divorce, I like to spread the hope that there is more than one true love, more than one chance at happiness. Mature love might not care about the obsession with money or rank, hence the lack of dukes and billionaires. As a writer, the challenge is to convey attraction that goes beyond money and a fabulous body. I find it fascinating and exciting.

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