Sunday, September 16, 2007

Does Age Matter?

Over at The Pink Heart Society today our Jenna has been chatting about a young man called Channing Tatum. Who? Many of you may ask... and d'ya know I'd have been right there with you if I hadn't ended up seeing a film called Step Up one night at the cinema on a girlie night out... And yes, as Jenna rightly says, the chap is young at 27 but oh my, as Jenna tells us HE CAN DANCE...

Now I will confess I have used dancing in several of my books now ~ right back as far as The Bridal Bet and Her Real-Life Hero ~ to as recently as Breathless! and I love a hero that can dance and who has natural, erm, rhythm... Several of them have even commented on how it can be as close to making love in public as two people can get ;) So I'm all for a hero inspiration with a few *moves* and that puts Channing Tatum on my list.

But what about his age? Well this chap, as Jenna says, is 27 in real life. And in my hero inspirations of old I've used pics of guys who are anywhere from 30 to 42 in real life and I've aged them anywhere from 30 to 37 odds in my stories...Hmmm... so would I dismiss the picturesque Channing due to the fact he is a mere sprig of a thing at 27... I dunno that I would. 'Cos in my story he could be 30, right? Though I def see him as a Modern Extra hero rather than a Romance hero (mind you finding this next pic might have something to do with that too!) - kinda depends on the story, doesn't it? I know I have a story just waiting for Jensen Ackles and he's only just hitting 30 next year so I guess, shallow and all as the confession makes me, it's more about the kind of *look* I want than the actual age... But this is a personal preference, isn't it? Or is it - dah-duh-da? (that was dramatic music there in case you missed it...)

See, when it comes to heroine's I know in my choice of reading I'll struggle a bit with a younger heroine. Now good writing will, of course, always win me over - but when it comes to a modern day love story a la Romance and Modern Extra, a heroine of 18 to even 24 just won't do as well in my imagination as one from say 26/27 to late thirties. Why Trish? Well, it's a statistics thing as much as a personal thing for little old me. Statistically women are marrying later, having children later, building a career before they settle down and going through more than their fair share of Mister Wrong's to get to Mister Close-to-right-as-possible or, with luck, the Mister Right we romance author's write about. And as a single gal of a certain age myself (be kind!!!) I just struggle some with a heroine who finds Mister Right in the 21st Century before she's lived a little and spent time getting to know herself. I'm not saying it's not possible, or doesn't happen, it just wouldn't be my reading or writing preference on the page. Now in a historical - yes absolutely! 'Cos that was a sign of the times, wasn't it? Women married younger, and not just 'cos there was security in marriage and it was expected of them, but because lives were shorter then - death during childbirth figures were higher - diseases were rife...

But nowadays we have a longer life expectancy (with any luck) and a little known thing called divorce, which means people maybe don't have to take marriage as seriously as they did centuries ago... And, for me, as both a reader and a writer, it means I like my heroines to have a little more maturity. I like it if they've struggled with a career, I like it if they've worked hard to pay their own way, I like it if they've had a chance to discover a few Mister Wrong's along the way and so many other things too - 'cos then I kinda think that seeing the perfect guy for them come along makes the happily ever after all the sweeter, you know? But maybe that's just me? Am I alone in this or is it simply a sign of my own age???

So I guess a lot of those things carry over into a hero too. I like if he's spent time getting to know himself too - 'cos really is there anything sexier than a hero who's his own man? I'm not talking set in his ways, but confidence and life experience and a modicum of success add as much to sexiness on the page and in real life as looks do, don't they??? It's part of that whole *aspirational hero* theory, isn't it? My heroine's sure as hell wouldn't want a man to ride roughshod over them, trying to take control of their lives - but they also sure as hell will appreciate one whose strong and capable of 'stepping up' when she needs him to. In fact, she might even be a little impressd when he does. And maybe a man of 27 or younger is capable of that, I'm nto arguing that, but I just dunno I'd be convinced and if I'm not convinced then how can I write a convincing story? So would I dismiss Channing - nope - but along with a brand new name, character, back-story, career etc etc etc - I'd make him older on the page. But that's a personal preference... Would it be yours?

So as a reader do you prefer heroine's of a certain age or is it all about the story? As a writer are you put off by the thought of too young a hero - or like me is it the visual representation and nothing more 'cos everything else is all in the realms of the imagination??? Huh? Huh???

Meanwhile... As it's the lil pink dancing chap's birthday and he's been getting all these lovely prezzies I guess I should give him something too... And being as and how I worry for his welfare with all that bouncing up and down all over the internet while we don't know what he's bouncing under...

I'm giving him a nice pink Hard Hat - just in case... Happy Birthday lil guy!!!


Ray-Anne said...

I totally agree with the age consideration for both hero and heroine. 27 -35 is ideal.
The characters truly have to know themselves, and who they are as people, before they can start a relationship - just as in real life, or the story does not work for me.
Interesting topic though - thank you for raising it. Ray-Anne

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

As I just have the ear of MH at the moment...he is a perfect MX hero. But then I never let age get to me...after all, I cast Elvis in Cooking Up A Storm and he's dead.

Sally Kalkofen said...

LOL, about Elvis, Jenna!

Anyhow, I wouldn't have a problem "casting" Channing or another younger guy as a hero I think because I'm only 28 myself and I still tend to write about characters around my age simply because they're easier for me to relate to. However, I'm also married with three kids and I'm pretty sure that's aged my some! :) So, I don't really feel all that uncomfortable writing 30-something characters either.

Either way, as you and ray-anne said, the characters do have to know themselves and as long as they've got some livin' under their belt, they're a go for me as far as being heroes or heroines.

Ally Blake said...

I'm with you Trish. My characteres tend to be that little bit older. I'm not sure I've ever written a twntysomething hero. How funny!

Maybe because I grew up reading about thirtysomething heroes, or maybe because I'm thirysomething myself and skewing younger feels less experienced.

Thought MX I've had younger heroines to be sure.


Mel said...

Age, like time, is relative. Could be the fact I'm 22 and feel much older because of the life I've lead so far. I already know what I want from life and I'm going to get it. So I guess that's what I consider when I'm writing or reading a book. How grounded is the character? How can I relate to them?

Trish said...

Wow - you guys all bring up some interesting points doncha???

I guess part of the thing with heroines is that thing about women maturing faster... I'm an eldest child who was old before her time in her teens so I guess I'll agree with that saying...;)

But it is kinda relative isn't it? If we had a hero who'd raised his younger siblings then he'd be mature early, right? But like you've ALL said it IS about the character knowing themself isn't it? Is there anything worse than one that hums and ha's and then changes his mind a coupla dozen times - huh???? C'mon - we'va ALL dated one...