I’m not a rule breaker by nature. Honest. I’m pretty ordinary and I mostly go with the flow. You could easily make the argument that I’m kinda boring. But when it comes to writing my novels, I’m considered a rebel because I write older characters. It’s not that I’m being deliberately difficult by not writing the typical young, hip, twenty-something heroine or the usual too-cool hunky hero. It’s that I don’t know those people. I don’t run in those circles, and I knew that if I tried to write younger characters, they would all sound false.
I never got why romance novels seem to be the bailiwick of characters who are younger than 50 anyway. If 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40, then how come romance after 50 isn’t sexy? Why is it that if you’re a woman of a certain age, then nobody wants to read about your love life? All of us more mature folks are still falling in love, rediscovering love, renewing love, and by God, we’re still having sex and probably doing it with way more panache. So why are most romance novels about girls in their twenties and early thirties?
I love the older heroines in my Women of Willow Bay series. These are women of experience and depth. They’re grown-ups, past all the silliness of youth. Carrie Halligan in Once More From the Top is a raising a teenager and running her own business when she reunites with the father of her son. Even though she’s in love, she’s also built her own life and changing everything is hard. They have to find a way to blend their lives and become a family.
Julie Miles in Sex and the Widow Miles is sexy, funny, bold, and living the perfect life with her doctor husband. Everything falls apart when her husband dies and Julie has to rebuild her life at age fifty-two. But she does it, in spite of discovering that her perfect life wasn’t all that perfect. Julie’s boldness comes from her maturity. You can forgive her for being snarky and brash because, unlike an annoying sarcastic twenty-something, she’s earned the right to speak her mind.
Unfortunately, when I set out to try and sell my older heroines, none of the traditional publishers were interested. I have a great agent and when she first signed me, I believed we’d sell books together and my career would take off. Well, it didn’t work out that way. Although she tried hard to sell my books, editors kept saying, “Love the writing, heroine’s too old.” Problem was I was breaking the rules. Writing outside the romance novel “formula,” and they simply couldn’t figure out how to sell a 52-year-old widow or a 40-year-old single mom of a teenager. So I decided to publish the novels on my own.
I’m writing for readers like me—grown-ups—building an audience of baby boomers who want to read about people their own age. We’re ready for romance with a dash of maturity, two people involved in a relationship without all the nonsense of youth. We want conversations between grown-ups who are over the drama of coming-of-age and meet on a level playing field of self-knowledge. We’re looking for sensual sexy love scenes written with that irresistible combination of humor, passion, and life experience.
Love can happen to anyone at any age. That’s why I’m writing mature heroines. That’s why I’m stepping out in faith and breaking the rules.
Nan Reinhardt is a writer of romantic fiction for women in their prime. Yeah, women still fall in love and have sex, even after 45! Imagine! She is also a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother. She’s been an antiques dealer, a bank teller, a stay-at-home mom, a secretary, and for the last 17 years, she’s earned her living as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader.
But writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. She can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t writing—she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten, a love story between the most sophisticated person she knew at the time, her older sister (who was in high school and had a driver’s license!) and a member of Herman’s Hermits. If you remember who they are, you are Nan’s audience! She’s still writing romance, but now from the viewpoint of a wiser, slightly rumpled, menopausal woman who believes that love never ages, women only grow more interesting, and everybody needs a little sexy romance.
Visit Nan’s website at www.nanreinhardt.com, where you’ll find links to all her books as well as blogs about writing, being a Baby Boomer, and aging gracefully…mostly.
Watch for The Summer of Second Chances, book 3 in the Women of Willow Bay series, coming this spring to an e-reader near you!