I am like a fine wine; full of alcohol and a bit fruity. I jest.
Ageing is often likened to a fine wine. I’m more of a vintage cheese, mostly because cheese is my main food group. You get the idea.
Being older is great. I feared it. Now I know I was wrong.
Yes, things start to ache more. The memory isn’t what it used to be but we’re still here. We still exist.
Age shouldn’t be a barrier to our dreams and everyday lives. This is particularly true for writers and their characters.
My Story as an Older Writer
I began writing at forty. Yes, I am that cliché of life beginning at that age, my writing life that is.
Until then I’d entertained the thought of writing but never considered it seriously. Other people were authors. I read other people’s books. To write my own was pie in the sky thinking.
I thought I was content to study literature and teach it. For a while, I was. Then my husband came along and changed it.
If you read any of my novels and hate them, blame my husband. He made me do it. Sort of. Not really.
When we met I told him about the book I had inside me. Many people think they’ve got one.
Here’s some advice, check it’s not just indigestion. Being a writer is hard. If it’s a touch of wind rather than a novel, don’t tread this treacherous writing path – mostly because I don’t want the competition.
My husband bought me a fancy notebook and gorgeous pen. They were my gifts to start writing with. So I did.
I did not need someone to give me permission. I needed someone to believe in me and my ability to write. That could have been a bloke, a woman, an alien or a chimp. It happened to be someone who loves me who has male bits. That matters, the loving me part that is. Moving on.
Since those first scribblings I’ve written a few novels, lots of short stories, and endless blog posts.
My first novel, Hidden, is due to be published on 27th August. I got a publishing contract and I’m not looking back. Being older is brilliant.
My Older Characters
In Hidden, most of my characters are over forty. That’s no accident.
Writers often use characters in their age bracket. Not always but it’s a common enough occurrence. It’s because we can relate to people of our generation.
I’m in awe of older authors who write for children and teenagers. I wish I had that sense of youth.
When I was a secondary school teacher, I tried to relate and did to a degree but I was never “down with the kids”. I’m not a youngster in today’s world with their specific issues.
Some of my characters are young ’uns, particularly the kids from the 1980s council estate. I’d like to think I’ve captured their childhood essence. I believe it’s because I was one of those kids. I can remember being them.
My protagonist, Jen Taylor, is in her early forties. Her best friend and fellow investigator, Claire Dalton was in the same school year.
The novel is partially set in the 1980s so I could hardly have twenty-something investigators, delving into their eighties past.
Using older characters wasn’t just a plot device though. I wanted characters that had lived life, made mistakes, gathered experiences, and had rich pasts.
Jen believes she killed a girl, Kelly Pratt, in 1987. Jen has carried that secret until the present day. Imagine all those decades of harbouring such a secret.
Jen is a complex woman who I hope you’ll find interesting watching her unravel.
Claire is a child-woman. She’s an ace reporter with a potty mouth. Her sarcasm is derived from the eighties to the present. In living through so many decades, she’s built quite the list of comebacks and witticisms.
Doreen Pratt is dying. Before she dies she wants to know what happened to her daughter. Hidden deals with the complexities of dying and how we want to resolve issues before our time runs out.
Constance, another character, is in a residential home. She’s a poster girl for ageing disgracefully and enjoying it. I hope to be like Constance when I’m in my eighties!
Why Age Isn’t a Barrier for Writers
- You don’t need to be a teenager to type. Our fingers may be a bit stiff but we get there.
- More life experience = more to write about.
- Many writers got their first publishing contract when they were older.
- We have more decades to write about. Perfect for recent historians.
We don’t have to research some of these decades because we lived them.
- We can be even more cantankerous about writing because this is grumpy old git territory.
- We don’t sweat the small stuff so much because we know life is shorter. We get stuff done.
- Unless they’ve checked the book jacket or our social media, no-one knows how old we are when they read our books. In this ageist society that means a lot.
- We have wisdom. If we don’t have wisdom, we’ve certainly enjoyed making some of our mistakes. Well, I certainly did.
Over to You
- Are you an older writer? Please share your experiences in the comments.
- Do you enjoy reading books with older characters in them? Why or why not?