I've already admitted that I prefer writing for older characters. They're just so much more interesting, having actually experienced real life and real suffering, and thus honestly earning their angst, rather than merely thinking that they had (I was 15 going on 16 in 1985 when The Breakfast Club came out and sat through that entire movie thinking: What is their problem?).
I prefer older people in real life, too. My first crush, as the age of 13, was Falcon Crest's David Selby who, according to IMDB, would have been in his mid-forties at the time.
My father once joked, "I'm afraid I'll have a son-in-law my own age."
"I just hope he isn't my age," my grandfather chimed in.
(For those curious, my husband is only two years older than I am but, like me, he is one of those disturbingly old souls. We got engaged basically three months after we started dating. Someone asked, "How long have you two known each other?" "Oh, about three or four... lifetimes," was Scott's smart-assed answer. We are both old soul smart-asses.)
I am guessing that it was either the old soul (or the smart-ass) in me that decided in 1998, when I was 28 years old, that I was qualified to write my second contemporary romance novel, "When a Man Loves a Woman," featuring a pair of 40-something protagonists.
The book was published by DELL in 2000 and got some pretty nice reviews, too.
A few months ago, I got the rights to it back and decided to release it as an enhanced e-book. Which meant reading through it again for the first time in over ten years to make sure the technical transfer had gone well.
I read it again and I must say... What the hell was I thinking?
My characters may have been in their forties on paper, but in their behavior, not to mention their pithy quips and, most importantly, their energy levels they were... oh, I'd say around twenty-eight or so.
When I mentioned to my husband that these people were not tired enough to be 40, he asked me, "Do they have kids?"
"There you go."
(Like I said... smart-asses.)
I still happen to think "When A Man Loves a Woman" (or WAMLAW as it was referred to in some reviews) is a pretty good book. It asks the age old question: Can men and women really be just friends? What about when one of them is married? What about when one of them suddenly isn't anymore?
But, I do wonder about the age thing. Books, film, and television are full of criticisms of authors writing outside their gender, their race, their religion, their ethnicity (not that it stops writers from doing it... or the critics from piling on them). But, should age be included in that group?
Obviously authors are capable of writing "down" - they've all been the age they invoke and the practice produced classics like "Catcher In The Rye" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" (not to mention "Harry Potter" or The "Babysitter's Club"). But can you write "up?"
Margaret Mitchell may have never been in the Civil War (and I can only assume Stephenie Meyer is not now and has never been a vampire, though, who knows?), but is advanced age another one of those conceits that can be assumed, or is it something you actually have to live through to get down accurately?
Let me know your thoughts, below, and click on the link to WAMLAW here, to check out my own attempt to write "up."