05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Boomer Fiction: We’re Still Climbing the Hill

By Linda Lovely

Would you be inclined to read a book featuring a heroine who has substantial miles on her odometer but still knows how to burn rubber when she’s chased and is willing to put the pedal to the metal when the kissing starts?

If so, I’m with you. I’m a fan of boomer fiction. Probably because I choose to believe I’m still climbing life’s hill rather than being over the hill.

That belief was part of my motivation for my Marley Clark Mystery series. Marley is a kick-ass retired military intelligence officer. The feisty widow is fit, witty, and sexy. In DEAR KILLER, the first book in the series, Marley’s working security

on a resort island when she finds a corpse bobbing naked amid a potpourri of veggies in a Jacuzzi. Over night her yawner of a job is transformed into a deadly battle of wits.

Soon the 52-year-old heroine is startled to discover she’s become a 40-year-old deputy sheriff’s target as well—for romance. Yet their steamy attraction doesn’t deter the pair from sorting through a viper’s nest of suspects as the body count grows and the pun-loving killer plans a grizzly epitaph for Marley. 

Marley continues her adventures in NO WAKE ZONE as she visits relatives in a Northern Iowa resort area. In the third Marley book, WITH NEIGHBORS LIKE THESE, scheduled to debut in 2016, Marley will return to her home in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Why did I decide to make Marley over fifty? Shortly after I crossed the age 50 divide myself—okay it was a few years ago—I began noodling around with the idea of an over-50 heroine. I had boomer friends engaged in all sort of interesting activities and thought it would be fun to create a “senior” heroine who was athletic, smart AND sexy.

At the time, it never occurred to me that heroines of “a certain age” might be confined primarily to two literary subgenres—a slice of women’s fiction populated with angst-filled over-50s battling declining health, parental regrets, lost loves or marital woes and the heroines of cozy mysteries.

That’s not as true today as it was in 2005 when I searched Internet and library sources for older heroines. Those searches turned up cozy titles by the boatload—heroines who tended to be retired amateur sleuths, unlikely to enjoy hot sex (or, if they did, we certainly never read about it.)

The pickings were slim for readers who wanted to hear about older women lawyers, professors, Army or police officers, journalists, or athletes in mysteries, thrillers and romance novels. And, even more seldom did books describe boomers enjoying healthy, sensual relationships.

This is steadily changing for two reasons. First, boomers devour books, and (delusional or not) we don’t think of ourselves as little old ladies. Second, there are many more options open to authors who want to reach what large traditional publishers may consider niche audiences. With the growth in ebooks and print-on-demand (POD) publishing, these options include Independent publishing, small publishing houses, and, most recently, author cooperatives. (I am lucky enough to be a new member of Windtree Press, an author cooperative that includes some very talented authors.)

Why have large traditional publishers been less likely to publish romance and mystery novels that feature older heroines who aren’t in the “cozy” mold? I’ve heard a variety of arguments. Here are a few: younger readers can’t identify with older heroines, but older readers can still remember the trials that young heroines face. Young heroines are more pliable and can experience greater growth than older “fixed in their beliefs” women.
Young acquiring editors think of old heroines as “geezer” lit.

Mind you, I read and ENJOY cozies. But I also love traditional and noir mysteries, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy. And I’d love to find more titles with older protagonists in all of these genres.

I’m happy to say that I seem to be getting my wish. 

DEAR KILLER and NO WAKE ZONE are available in ebook, paperback and audiobook formats. 


Judith Ashley said...

Wow! I'm even older than Marley but never saw myself as "fixed in their beliefs" or less "pliable". What I've learned is that to enjoy life at any age it is important to be flexible (and that is different than pliable but in a good way).

My dictionary says both words indicate being easily influenced but nowhere in the definition of "pliable" is the word 'adaptable' used. Whereas "flexible" does have that as a key definition behind pliable and tractable.

Being adaptable, able and willing to change to keep pace with the world around us and to figure out ways to continue to live a rich and rewarding life like Marley are keys to remaining (or becoming) happy as we grow older!

And, welcome to Windtree Press, Linda!

Linda Lovely said...

Thanks, Judith. I'm delighted to be a member of Windtree Press. And, I agree with you, maturity doesn't mean we're less adaptable. I'm still adapting--and having fun.

Ashantay Peters said...

I enjoyed reading Marley's adventures, and have seen more older heroines popping up. Stands to reason, and a welcome development! Congrats on your new publishing venture, also!

Diana McCollum said...

Great post Linda! I enjoy reading about "mature" heroines. Of course, I am a mature woman. I do enjoy thrillers, romantic suspense, paranormal and even regency books. Sometimes I do get annoyed with the childishness of regency, and have to take a break from reading those books. I will definitely try your books. Good luck with sales!

CJG said...

I agree 100%and maybe we are the generation to change the world again, LOL. I have loved every decade I've lived but it wasn't until my 50's I started hearing the negativity. A mature heroine certainly doesn't fit into the clueless, fragile, weak mold and thank goodness!

Linda Lovely said...

Diana and CJG, thanks for dropping by. In addition to being smart and sexy, Marley has a sense of humor. I think that's part of maturity--and enjoying life. You need to know it's okay to laugh at the absurdity. It takes the edge off negativity.

Paty Jager said...

I think an over 50 heroine especially in mysteries is great. I mean it takes someone with life experience to muddle through a mystery. Just look at Miss Marple! And I think, being over 50 myself I would even read a tasteful romance between a couple over 50.