So I’ve been thinking about age.
Lately, I’ve read a number of excellent historicals with heroines that are near my own age
(28-30ish). Okay, I’m 31, but you know. Close enough. Be they spinsters or widows, they’re old enough to have a better-developed sense of themselves and their own sensuality, which adds to the complexity of the romance. I love reading about “older” (that being a very relative term, of course) heroines.

But I don’t know that I could write one yet.

My own heroine (Lucy, as you know) turns 20 during the course of the novel. Her hero is 29. So are all the other men in the novel . In fact, there’s only one character in the book over 30, and she’s the senile great-aunt. It’s like an episode of Friends set in the Regency – everyone’s 20-something, witty, and good-looking.

I guess I just feel like, being 31, I can write about what it’s like to be a woman under the age of … 25 or so. Beyond that, I feel less confident. I’m still processing what it’s like to be a woman in my late 20s or early 30s. With the men, all bets are off anyways – I’ve never been a man of any age.

How about you? What age of characters do you prefer to read about? Are there certain ages you feel more or less comfortable writing? Would you put my book back on the rack because all the characters are so young?

11 comments to “May-December Romance (or in my case, more like April-March)”

  1. Mary Danielson
    · January 24th, 2007 at 6:04 pm · Link

    Hi Eve!

    Well, I’m in the same boat as you on difficulty with writing ages. Originally, I tried to write a full-blown romance, because that is what I normally read and love. Yet, I soon realized the thing I’m best at is writing Young Adult – my current heroine is 17, an age which can still sympathize with, but am far enough away to understand better. I think the age of your main characters is the most important aspect of the “write what you know” commandment.

    I also prefer reading about older heroines, even though I am in my low 20s – just because I can’t imagine having a life-changing romance at this point in my life. For me romance novels are that “someday” fantasy. Truthfully though, if the heroine is smart and self-possessed, age never really bothers me. And from reading excerpt, your Lucy definitely qualifies as both!

  2. Tessa Dare
    · January 24th, 2007 at 8:48 pm · Link

    Merryday! When are you going to update your blog, girl? I keep checking, and it keeps looking different, but there are no new posts, and it makes me sad. 🙁

    I want to hear about your WIP!

  3. Lindsey
    · January 24th, 2007 at 9:22 pm · Link

    I’m okay with historicals being about younger characters because it works for the period – though every time I read a phrase like “26-year-old spinster” my single 27-year-old self dies a little. 😉

    I generally assume a historical romance age conversion – that Regency heroines would be older (at least four years?) by contemporary standards. Most 20-year-old heroines seem more like me than like my 20-year-old sister, and most 27-year-old heroines seem far and away beyound my experience – and I’m told I’m mature for my age.
    I think there has to be a certain amount of maturity in a relationship for me to believe it’s true love rather than puppy love, and since people in the period married younger, I just have to believe that most of them (at least the ones worth writing romances about!) were more mature.

  4. Ericka Scott
    · January 24th, 2007 at 10:54 pm · Link

    Having been a “victim” of a late life romance (okay, not so late, but I was first married at 27, divorced at 35, then remarried at 42) I like to read about those unexpected late life romances. Unfortunately, really young contemporary heroines (20 or so) strike me as TSTL and are totally wasting their opportunities worrying about finding an elusive love of their life instead of learning who they are. In historicals, I have more patience with those young’uns as they didn’t have any choice.

  5. Alice Audrey
    · January 24th, 2007 at 10:58 pm · Link

    I like to read them when they are younger, Historical or Single Title, because I think it’s more realistic. If they are over 29, then I get fed up if they haven’t been in at least one serious relationship before.


  6. Maggie Robinson
    · January 25th, 2007 at 6:15 am · Link

    I think a lot of historical romance writers got fed up with the 17 year old heroine and stretched out to contemporary, where everybody seems to be in their thirties.

    I’ve noticed the trend in historicals for the heroines to be “older” (chortle, in their early twenties)lately— primarily, I believe, to remove the “ick” factor we place on the pairing of a high-school age girl and a 30 year old guy from our 21st century perspective.

    As a writer you want to stay true to some version of history, but you have to make concessions to what is palatable to today’s reader. But I do keep in mind that kids were not “infantalized” by 19th century parents or education. They grew up quicker and more was expected of them. However, nobody reads a romance for the history lesson alone!

    I’m kind of a sucker now for the “overlooked” heroine, who grew up without access to the season, or the widow, who had an unhappy first marriage. I like to see the blossoming. So I guess I should be writing about them next!

  7. beverley
    · January 25th, 2007 at 9:20 am · Link

    For historicals I have to agree with everyone. They do tend to be younger to be true to the period but in the same breath, I hardly think as 29 to be on the shelf even though I know it was in those days. My herione is young but I will write about older heroines and have no problems reading about them. I do admit though, I like them to be of an age where they can still have babies cause I’m a sucker for kids.

  8. Tessa Dare
    · January 25th, 2007 at 3:09 pm · Link

    You all make some great points. Yes, in a historical a younger heroine makes more sense. That’s just when most women got married. If she’s in her late 20s or more, you have to explain WHY she’s still unmarried or make her widowed or some such.

    I guess I just feel a bit dishonest about it, because – like some of you mentioned – it’s so hard to believe that a 19 or 20-year-old is going to have the faintest clue what she wants out of love or life. If I were made to live by the life decisions I made at 19 – oh dear Lord. Not good.

    I guess I just have to believe that Lucy is smarter at 19 than I was. Or luckier. Probably both.

  9. CM
    · January 25th, 2007 at 5:05 pm · Link

    Oh yes. Anytime people accuse a heroine of being TSTL, I remember what I was like at nineteen. And indeed, I am impressed that I survived.

    My heroine is not actually 19. My theory is that she’s prematurely mature.


  10. beverley
    · January 25th, 2007 at 5:29 pm · Link

    But at nineteen in the 1800s I have to believe they had the maturity of a women in her 30s in this day and age. Children were working full time back breaking jobs and the poverty was staggering. That must harden you way before your time. If they saw the way teenagers had it now, they’d say we are probably one of the most spoiled generation.

  11. Sara Dennis
    · January 26th, 2007 at 1:13 am · Link

    Maybe I’m weird. I tend to write heroines who are 30something these days. I’m 34, and I go down to 28 or so and up to late thirties, but that’s about my comfort range. My heroes tend to be a little older than the heroine.

    Unless I’m trying for a chick-lit sort of feeling. Then I go younger, but I write within my peer group. Or something.