Saturday, November 04, 2006

How Old Are You, Really?

I read an interesting column the other day (of course now, I can't remember where) about the age of romance novel heroines. Most seem to be floating somewhere in the 26-34 age range. Years ago, I entered a contest and had a judge tell me my 22-yer old heroine was too young. Hmm. I've always kept that in the back of my mind, as if the general romance readership isn't really interested in a heroine that couldn't possibly have any baggage at the tender age of 22.

But this column talked about the other end of the spectrum - the 40+ romance novel heroine. We know they're out there, of course. But how popular are they, and will they become a bigger trend? What about 50+ heroines? I mean, OK, I'm still in my early 30's, but I'd like to think that romance, that the need for love and affection and good old-fashioned sex, continues well past middle age. Here's the thing: will readers identify with a heroine who's at that age and stage in her life? Or, as this columnist suggested, do most women readers identify with a younger heroine because that's the age they still think of themselves? Are we all, somehow, and somewhere deep inside, hovering around 16 or 25 or whenever it is that we remember really and truly falling in love for the first time?

In many ways, I still feel 24 (I have always looked back at that age as the moment when everything in my life was most perfect and unencumbered). So when I'm 50, will I still feel half my age? Maybe not physically, but emotionally and psychologically?

More important, will I want to read about heroines who are my own age? Or will I prefer to identify with a twenty-something heroine because she reminds me of who I once was, and who I sometimes still think I am, inside?

What do you think?

1 comment:

Marianne Arkins said...

I'm hoping that readers will like the older heroine -- my NaNo novel deals with a 40 y.o., Camilla is 29, Tish is 26 and Liv is my youngest at 25.

Looking back at my early twenties, I was nowhere near mature enough to jump into a "forever" relationship (though I did get engaged at 21 -- that ended a year later).

I imagine we'll find out. I wonder how the sales of Harlequin Next are doing (though they are exactly pure romance)?